Meatless Rooftop Dining at Joie @ Orchard Central
A new meatless restaurant is in town, Joie (pronounced ‘joy’), located on the rooftop garden of Orchard Central on the 12th floor. I think it is risky to go meatless for fine dining in Singapore, but Joie seems ready to prove otherwise.
The restaurant first opened its door in September and presents a refreshing concept that specialises in modern meatless cuisine. Note that meatless is not the same as vegetarian. They still use ingredients like egg and milk in their dessert items.
Influenced by the new wave dining trend in Europe and Taiwan which focuses on uplifting and innovative natural fare prepared with fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs, owner of Joie, Mr Huang Yen Kun aspires to conjure the same fervour for meatless cuisine in Singapore. A tall challenge I must say, but it will definitely be rewarding if successful.
Joie’s highlight lies in its elaborate set lunch and dinner menus, although an a la carte menu is also available. Diners can choose from a six-course lunch ($38.80++) or seven-course dinner ($68.80++) consisting of contemporary dishes with Japanese-European sensibilities and flavours.
Helmed by Executive Chef Sherwin Sim, formerly of Coriander Leaf Restaurant, guests will be challenged to put aside their misconceptions about meatless cuisine with his refined and original creations.
I sampled the seven-course dinner.
I am a meat lover and to be honest, I was very sceptical on how tasty a meatless dinner can be. Joie managed to impress me though. I like it that they totally avoided imitation meat whereby a lot of starch and carbohydrate are used to mimic meat. I see no point in eating imitation meat when I can eat real meat.
Instead, care and effort goes into bringing out the best flavours from the freshest vegetables, fruits and herbs. Plating and presentation plays a key role in enhancing the overall dining experience. Every dish is served like a work of art and you can see that the chef takes pride in his creations.
The restaurant’s ambient is pretty awesome, surrounded by Orchard Central’s serene rooftop garden, above the hustle and bustle of the busy Orchard shopping district. There are six private rooms available which seats 4 to 16 pax and guests can enjoy these rooms at no additional cost.
Unlike conventional set menus with limited choice, Joie offers ample variety to customers with four to five options per course.
Begin with a complimentary palate cleanser, a refreshing sweet and tangy Passion Fruit Sorbet smoothie served alongside the amuse-bouche which changes seasonally:
For the first course, savour the Mushroom Gratin; button mushrooms sauteed in herb garlic butter enveloped by crisp and creamy mozzarella cheekily served in an escargot plate with Tennessee heirloom potato puree and caramelised Belgian endive on the side. Alternatively, the steamed Matsutake Sponge Cake using the prized Japanese mushroom is a treat with its light and fluffy cake texture paired with rosemary gelée, golden enoki mushroom tempura for crunch and a touch of vanilla-scented cream.
Witness Chef Sim’s creativity through the choices for the second course, including a Spring Vegetable Terrine, while not strictly a terrine in traditional terms, the assorted vegetables of aubergines, carrots, mushrooms and peppers are layered in a loaf mould, gelled together using vegetable broth. Served with pistachio crumble and parmesan crisps, the marinated vegetables pair well with the garlic-onion emulsion on the side. The Rubik’s Cube Salad is a popular dish for its familiar flavours yet creative presentation of compressed red and yellow watermelon, cubed mint gelée and feta cheese which are intricately stacked to resemble its namesake. Paired impeccably with a balsamic glaze, the dish elevates a run-of-the-mill watermelon and feta salad with its immaculate presentation.
Slurp up some soup for the soul with the Snow Pear and Napa Cabbage Consommé or Tomato Broth with Garbanzo Beans. The former is presented elegantly on a Chinese tea tray with a clay teapot brimming with a robust-flavoured double-boiled vegetable stock that is poured over a tender poached baby pear and Chinese almonds; light and comforting with every spoonful. The latter Tomato Broth with Garbanzo Beans is equally heart-warming with a mix of al-dente Orzo pasta and garbanzo beans crowned with a spinach dumpling in a tangy, herbaceous tomato-based broth.
For the final savoury course, tuck into Baby Garden Root Vegetables of sous-vide carrots, potatoes, caramelised onions and sweet golden baby beetroots air-flown from Holland nestled in fragrant truffle mash and drizzled with horseradish butter garlic sauce; Wild Rice, a deceptively simple dish of perfectly-sautéed wild rice with crunchy mixed vegetables such as carrots, baby radish and haricot verts; or the Trio of Spheres which includes a creamy butternut pumpkin risotto ball with curry mayonnaise, a flaky puff pastry stuffed with fresh wild mushroom, onion and truffle, and a crispy fried mozzarella cheese ball coated with panko crumbs.
To end on a sweet note, customers will be spoilt for choice as staff roll out the impressive guéridon trolley stacked high with an assortment of desserts from macarons, mini tarts and candy. Guests can indulge in their choice of five sweet picks as well as a drink. Select from a range of teas, coffee and refreshing mocktails such as Joie’s Rose Coffee with aromatic rose syrup; Hot Roselle Rhythm of Roselle flowers, citrus peel and herbs; and Ice Mallow Apple Melody of mallow flowers in apple and guava juice.
It’s pretty fun dining at Joie. The creations are interesting and there are plenty of flavours to tease your tastebuds. Go with an open mind and you would find that you would not miss your serving of meat at the end of the meal! I would recommend the restaurant for group dining to make best use of their private rooms. 🙂
Address: 181 Orchard Road #12-01 Orchard Central
Reservation: Tel 6838 6966
Operating Hours: Monday-Sunday: 12 – 3pm | 6 – 10pm
(last order for lunch: 2pm, last order for dinner: 9pm)
Size: 3600 square feet
Seating Capacity: 82 (indoors) | 8 (outdoors)
Private Rooms: 6 rooms seating 4-16pax