Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Joloko KL: A Taste of African-Caribbean Cuisine & Mezcal in KL

Set in a deceptively large "little house" on Jalan Kamunting, Joloko is one of the latest additions to KL's restaurant and bar scene, bringing spices, chilli, mezcal and good vibes to KL-ites.

Spice up your life at Joloko

The name Joloko is inspired by the jolokia pepper, also known as the ghost pepper, one of many chillies grown by Kit (one of the co-owners, also the chilli aficionado in the team). Making up the rest of the Joloko team are Penny, Rick and Shin, working collectively to bring the Joloko dream to life.

To get here, look for the charming pale-yellow building with lush tropical green plants (there is no signboard), located next door to Hotel Stripes KL.

Come early and enjoy a cocktail or two before dinner at the bar area, while admiring the eyecatching murals and the awesome, cool interior.

Sunset Survival (RM40) and Voodoo Old Fashioned (RM44)

There is a casual dining area downstairs with a view of the open kitchen as well as a more intimate, cosy dining room upstairs, which also doubles up as an event space. Shin and Penny, the team behind Chocha Foodstore, had a hand in the interior design of this gorgeous space.

Helming the kitchen here at Joloko is Executive Chef Tim Jay who hails from Chicago. The food is vibrant and unpretentious, with a menu showcasing African-Caribbean cuisine, including bread and dips, sharing plates and a delicious selection of spicy Caribbean-style BBQ from the grill.

Whenever possible, Chef Tim uses locally sourced ingredients in his kitchen, such as most of the seafood, goat, chicken, pork and vegetables. The spices are largely imported to keep the dishes as authentic as possible.

The restaurant also boasts a notable wine list including natural and sustainable wines and an impressive stock of mezcal. Rick, the in-house mezcal expert gave us a masterclass and insight into their drinks selection.

Known as the single malt of tequila, mezcal is distilled alcoholic beverage made from any type of agave and contains 100% agave by law. JOLOKO stocks 47 different types, some infused with weird and wonderful ingredients such as iguana (and there are only 76 bottles of this in the world!). On every table, you will find jicaras (handcrafted in Mexico), which are used to serve the mezcals.

Natural wine is made with minimal chemical and technological intervention; unfiltered, with no added sulphites and 0% pesticide. We tried a couple of natural wines (one orange and one red) as well as a sustainable white. The Australian orange wine, Unico Zelo "Esoterico Spices" 2016 (RM38 per glass) from Adelaide Hills is made from white grapes with their skins left on; smooth, super easy to drink and paired beautifully with our meal. 

Schmelz "Ried Klaus" Gruner Veltliner 2016, Austria (RM35) and Lucy M, Merlot 2016, Australia (RM46)

To start, we had two types of dips; the creamy Moutabal with spicy harissa (RM15) and the Goat's curd with cucumber and mint (RM15), served with flatbreads. Chef Tim tells us that the eggplant is literally burned over the open flame, giving it an intense smokiness. So good!

Sharing is highly encouraged at Joloko; choose from their generously sized sharing plates (known as "pickings" on their menu). The baramundi is marinated with a jerk spice blend, grilled and then topped with a sweet coconut sauce. The contrast of the spices and creamy sauce is delicious.

Baramundi with jerk spice and coconut (RM30)

Next, we shared the chicken shashlik; tender, juicy chicken pieces marinated in red wine vinegar and a Moroccan spice blend, skewered and then grilled. The orange and cashew salsa gives a fresh dimension to this dish.

Chicken shashlik with cashew and orange (RM30)

My favorite dish here at Joloko was the Caribbean goat curry (RM35), which is available from Fridays to Sundays only. Insanely good, this Haitian-based dish is made using tomatoes, garlic, potato, chillies and onions and cooked until the meat is tender and the curry is thick. The sauce is so flavorful, with heat from the chillies which got our tastebuds tingling with joy.

The must-have dish at Joloko is the Jamaican jerk chicken with mango relish (RM65). The chicken is first placed in a brine bath (salt, sugar and spices) for several hours, then covered in jerk spices for 24 hours and then grilled to order and finished off in the oven. The result - smoky, well-seasoned, tender, juicy chicken.. absolutely to die for! Served with a mango relish and pickled cabbage.

Before coming to Malaysia, Chef Tim opened two Cheesecake Factory restaurants in the Middle East so the Joloko Chili Cheesecake with Mango and Paprika came highly recommended. Rich and dense with a subtle spicy finish.

Reservations are highly recommended. Book your tables online here:

For the food, wine and mezcal menus, please click here.

Opening times: Tue- Sun 5pm - 1am. Fri & Sat 5pm - 2am. Closed on Mondays.

Location: JOLOKO, 43, Jalan Kamunting, Off Dang Wangi, 50300 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Park at Hotel Stripes KL RM20 for 3 hours, or one of the open-air car parks)

Tel: 03-2694-1100

Nearest LRT: Dang Wangi (200m).

GPS Coordinates: 3.157026, 101.700326

Website: https://www.bar-joloko.com/

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