Joie by DOZO @ Orchard Central – Vegetarian Fine Dining in the Heart of Town (Invite)

When you think vegetarian, you think healthy salads and (at times) bland smoothies; the world of fine dining hardly ever comes to mind. Well, here to prove us wrong is Joie by DOZO, a fine dining concept that aims to re-define vegetarianism to experimental, yet refined heights.

Situated on the top level of Orchard Central, Joie is somewhat like a modern day oasis, offering a panoramic view of Orchard Road from its undisturbed premises. Its name takes inspiration from the French phrase, joie de vire, which translates to “exuberant enjoyment of life”. Judging by the evening’s offerings, it’s not hard to see why.

With Huang’s vision of playing on the creativity and flavours of vegetarian cuisine, it’s no surprise to see that the menu comprises quirky and imaginative dishes, from vegetable sashimi to even steak on hot stone!

The Chef’s Selection of Assorted Platter reminds me of the quote from Forrest Gump which goes something along the lines of, “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.” The trio of appetisers was certainly a feast for the senses, and a prelude to the gastronomical adventure that was just awaiting us.

Most mind boggling of them all has got to be the Carrot Sashimi; the texture and taste is uncannily similar to salmon, and can even fool the most discerning of palates. The cracker with wasabi is another play on textures and flavours, while we were told to consume the raspberry sphere in one bite, and for good reason too, as the flavour simply exploded in our mouths!

Proving that vegetarian cuisine does not necessarily have to be limited to cold servings of shredded greens, the Gratinated Cahmpignon with Mozzarella  is a cheese and mushroom lover’s dream come true. I loved twirling those juicy mushrooms to free them from the bed of warm, oozing cheese.

Not to be mistaken for charcoal, the Tempura Platter on Mash is – surprise surprise – yam, apple, eggplant and banana coated in charcoal, giving this tantalising dish extra detox properties. Try guessing which charcoal coated fruit or vegetable you’re picking when you’re dining with your friends! 😉

Yet another visual spectacle, the Zucchini Tower will leaves diners wondering how to eat it. It’s simple – just knock it down (but after you’re taken enough pictures of it!) and you get to sample all of its flavours in one bite: zucchini, crème cheese spread, truffle mayo, and fluffy puff pastry. 😉

Picking up from the starter, Joie’s Vegetable Sashimi on Ice combines the elevated plating and techniques of Japanese cuisine with fresh fruit and vegetables, including carrot, coconut, kongjac, aloe vera, and pear. There’s even a shooter of Quail Egg with chopped vegetables which, once you get past the initial strangeness of it, yields a combination of smooth saltiness with the delightfully crunchy textures of the vegetables. Interesting!

Another dish meant to be broken up and mixed together, the Tartare Platter au Naturale is a bit like a health nut’s paradise, boasting pine nuts, seaweed, avocado, corn, tomato salsa, pomegranate, seagrapes, and rice puff.

The Grill Bai-Ling Steak on “Pu-Ye” Hot Stone is one of the latest additions to Joie’s menu, and a definite must-try. The juiciness of the mushroom was to die for, and a very worthy replacement of the beef tenderloin served in DOZO. So succulent and flavourful was the mushroom that there was almost no need for the accompanying truffle dip. Of all the dishes, this was my favourite in terms of presentation, what with the leaf and the 300-degree Celsius heated stone that brought to mind a relaxing spa.

Coming in second is the Wild Rice with Eggplant Terrine, whose arrangement of eggplant made it resemble an edible landscape. Compared to the bai-ling mushroom, the eggplant was a tad mushy, although the sautéed wild rice with baby radish, pine nuts, baby carrots and green beans was a delicious, filling mix.

It’s hard to think of Western cuisine amidst all these innovative, Asian-inspired dishes. But just in case, Joie also offers a vegetarian rendition of the classic Duo Ravioli Platter – pumpkin and pinch filing encased in pasta dough and doused in a basil cream sauce. Of the two fillings, I preferred the spinach as I’m more of a savouries person.

For drinks, Joie concocts a variety of soups and teas to compliment its healthy menu. Couples celebrating their anniversary, or just enjoying a romantic night out, can go for the Cocktail of Love pictured above. 😉

Joie by DOZO offers an intriguing dining experience and I would definitely recommend everyone to try it at least once, if not for the pretty dishes, then for the complex flavours that take vegetarian cuisine to new heights. Six-course lunch is priced at $38.60++, while the seven-course menu is a couple notches higher at $68.80++. Kudos to the team for a memorable meal!

Address: Orchard Central 12-01
Contact: 6838 6966
Opening hours: 12pm – 3pm and 6pm – 10pm (Daily)

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