• Ronn Tan

A Raw Review: Joloko, Kuala Lumpur

Hello there, it's Ronn!

A Raw Review. My column where I give my honest reviews of all the noms I have had the opportunity to try; delivering the true essence of food reviews: raw.

It's fun, casual, and simple; and I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts as much as I enjoy writing them for you.

Let's be honest. I can't have a food blog and not talk about one of my favourite restaurants in town. Joloko might not be a new restaurant but since opening in 2018, it has cemented quite a reputation of its own — and rightly so.

Known for its Afro-Caribbean fare, the restaurant in Chow Kit (right next to Hotel Stripes) is designed by Malaysian architect Shin Chang (also the brain behind Chocha Foodstore and REXKL's aesthetics).

Photo: Joloko

My most recent visit to Joloko was for an event with The Macallan and that came with a specially curated menu to pair with the whiskies of the night. On Joloko's regular menu, you'll notice a plethora of eclectic culinary concoctions that are hard to find in KL — showcasing both Joloko's prowess and the complexity of Afro-Caribbean food.

I remember having a difficult time deciding during my virgin visit and I've returned a few times since. #NotSusAtAll. Well, without further a food ado, here are some of my favourite dishes from Joloko:

1 | Guava Glazed Prawn Tostadas (RM35)

This is one of the most popular dishes on Joloko's menu and I can understand why. I found myself in a dilemma of gastronomical proportions when I first laid eyes on this exact dish. The tostadas are just too pretty to devour.

Amazing as an appetiser, you're served with plump, delectable guava-glazed prawns on crispy tortilla shells. In addition to the vivid presentation, the dish also aces in terms of flavour profile. Slightly sweet (also from guacamole) and acidic, every bite is a gustatory win for the taste buds.

Seasoned to the tee, it's also rather invigorating; reminding me of my favourite beach vacations. #OneCanDream. The pieces might be rather mellow in size but they sure are filled with toothsome intricacies. Ah, maybe that's why I had them all to myself.

2 | Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini

It's not all meat galore at Joloko. Vegetarian options are available and deserve a spotlight too. If you're thinking of adding a vegetarian dish to your meal, you might want to consider Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini.

Cauliflowers — packed with nutrients — are known to be really versatile cooking ingredients. Joloko's concoction is roasted and prepared with greens as well as a common Middle Eastern and Mediterranean ingredient: tahini.

I really enjoyed the crunch from the cauliflowers. Like music to my palate, soul, and mind, every bite is akin to being a master of musical instruments I can't actually play. With tahini, the cauliflowers have a buttery undertone that's mildly acerbic yet thoroughly sapid. Easy eats for the win!

3 | Jamaican Jerk Chicken (RM65)

I remember having Jamaican Jerk Chicken for the first time from a little stall in Farringdon, London. I still have a clear memory of my inaugural experience with the Caribbean staple. Well, you can imagine how I excited I was (still am) about Joloko's dish.

Made for sharing between two to three people, the Jamaican Jerk Chicken came with Mango Relish and Pickled Cabbage. Similar to the tostadas, all initial attention goes to the colours on the plate.

This dish is complex yet mouth-wateringly familiar. The tango is complete with the tender and divine grilled chicken that goes really well with the sweet and nectarous mango relish. There is also a hint of heat that's really inviting. Pair this with a bowl of Jollof rice and you're all set. Side note: take some time to revel at the colour of the meat.

4 | Grilled Trevally

The last dish on this list sure is Grilled Trevally with Fresh Herb Medley. It's a massive dish and is meant to be shared — unless you can finish the entire fish on your own.

If you're a fan of all things seafood, this one's for you. Grilled to perfection and adequately seasoned, the meat is luscious and light yet dense and firm. It has a melodious saltiness, especially with the skin. It's a sublime preparation and one I'd continue to rave about.

Joloko has remained consistent throughout the past two years and has garnered a fanbase — not just for its food but also for the atmosphere. You don't visit Joloko just to eat, you go there for an experience. The restaurant also has an extensive bar menu (helmed by Rick Moore); offering biodynamic wines and mezcal.

If you've never been to Joloko, you'll have to check them out. If you've been, what are your favourite dishes from the restaurant?


43, Jalan Kamunting, Kuala Lumpur

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