The much-loved South Mumbai landmark Joss will re-open in the ’burbs. But the restaurant has changed more than its location, as its menu will now take on a surprising, multi-sensory approach to dining
“Have you ever tried to eat a meal, while pinching your nose shut?,” asks Farrokh Khambata, chef-proprietor, Joss. “You won’t be able to taste much.” With these sentences, he summarises his food philosophy for the all-new Joss.
“I wanted diners to realise that food is more than just the taste on your palate. I wanted to create an experience wherein food involves the use of multiple senses.” And in this experiment, the suburban Joss differs from the original. “But we’ve kept most of the old menu. All we’ve done is add a dash of drama!” Khambata refuses to reveal more, as he heads to the kitchen, simply saying, “We have to experience Joss to understand it.”
Joss’ ambience, much like its parent, is stylish-minimalist. It boasts of large mirrors, high ceilings and large windows that look onto the alfresco dining area. Courtesy the alfresco bar where patrons can enjoy a drink, the interiors also have a well-stocked bar.
The expert bartenders whipped up a Smoking Cosmopolitan (Alcoholic/Virgin, Rs 400/300), a blend of vodka, cointreau, cranberry and lemon juice. Served in a smoking pipe-shaped glass, the bartender dropped a hint of dry ice into the drink, such that the end of the glass smoulders as it reached our table. Even without the alcohol, it won us over. However, it was the Fire and Ice (Alcoholic/Virgin, Rs 400/300) that swept us away. The combination of mango, jalapeno and Thai chilli intrigued, where a tiny shell floating atop the glass held a flame. You blow it out, like a candle on a cake, before you sip it.
The drinks were closely followed by Khambata’s menu recommendations. From the sushi section, we sampled the Sunset Boulevard Tempura Prawns with Asparagus and Snow Crab (Rs 1,100). They were served on a miniature cold barbecue while the soy sauce comes in a miniature jug. The presentation was too good to disturb. Despite the wasabi and the sauce, the prawns could be savoured.
After much debate we picked out favourites in the dim sum section: The Jasmine Tea Smoked Tender Spare Ribs (Rs 640). The lid of the dish was lifted at our table as a hint of jasmine wafted through the air. As we bit into the succulent meat, the taste of the flowery tea emerged; its mildly bitter taste was complemented by the sweet honey glazing, and fiery chilli flakes; Vegetarians will enjoy the Edamame and Truffle Oil Dumplings (Rs 520). Served in bamboo steamers, they are filled with the creamy goodness of greens; The Mekong Whisky Flambéed Prawns (Rs 590) were a hot favourite at the South Mumbai outfit, and we knew why when we saw them served over a flame in little soupspoons. Khambata revealed, “We were among the first to experiment with the presentation. When we introduced it, over 10 years back, people didn’t know what to call it, and would ask for ‘that dish with the spoons’!”
The Yum Kung Prawns Pipette Jus (Rs 540), looked as good as it tasted. With a prawn pierced into a pipette, we had to bite the prawn, then squeeze the pipette such that the flavours came together in the mouth. As Khambata promised, the presentation worked on my sense of sight and taste.
The mains consisted of Massaman Red Curry (Lamb) (Rs 1,300). Served with sticky rice; the sauce was flavourful and didn’t allow the spices to overpower the tender lamb. The Barbecue Chicken with Thai Hot Chili and Holy Basil (Rs 580), was hot, yet had a tangy after-taste.
Finally, it was time for dessert. Names like The Big Bang Theory, No Eggs Benedict, Exploding Crème Brulees, gave away nothing, and had scant or no descriptions. The No Eggs Benedict (Rs 390) resembled our breakfast; and we were convinced it was an egg. The pure vegetarians seem disheartened until Khambata explained the yellow was mango puree, the white was crème brulee, followed by mascarpone cream torte, while a thin sheath of fruit worked as a garnish that suspiciously resembled crispy fried bacon!
Joss has got drama, yet sophistication. Thought has gone into the making of a meal, and while it is sophisticated, it’s sans the arrogance. Being able to walk such fine lines, Joss may just be critique proof.
Joss opens on August 4 at Savoy Chambers, Linking Road Extension, near Mini Cooper showroom, Santacruz.