It may only be two years old but Caribbean restaurant-bar JOLOKO has certainly been bringing the heat to the Kuala Lumpur dining scene. Walk into this establishment and you’ll see why it’s taken home Best Restaurant Bar at The Bar Awards Kuala Lumpur for two years running. True to the concept of Caribbean cuisine, which has the marked characteristic of fusing food traditions from all over the world, there are no boundaries to flavour at JOLOKO.
Dining at this unassuming heritage house in the quiet area of Chow Kit is like attending a party at a friend’s home. When you first walk into the yellow building, you’ll be greeted by a large terrazzo table surrounded by greenery. There’s even a banana tree! The interior was designed to maintain as much of the heritage building as possible – even the bar shelves were repurposed from the painted wooden stairs that the previous owner left behind. The homey vibe that JOLOKO prides itself for is a result of all the thought that was put into its design. The main bar was made lower to make it feel like an island counter in a home kitchen. It doesn’t have the typical “back bar” as it’s laid out such that guests are free to walk in through where the bartender is stationed.
If you’re a fan of natural and orange wines, Joloko has one of the biggest collections in town. They bring in the wine directly from producers and usually have 60-70 types on hand at any one time, including orange wines like Denavolo by the glass. These aren’t the typical ones you’d find on supermarket shelves either as owner Rick Joore and his team make sure to look out for producers who are creating special and unique products.
Their mezcal collection is also one that will fascinate the taste buds of any connoisseur, even having bottles of pechuga distilled with animal meat from Mezcalito Pal’alma that’s not just rare in Malaysia, but also available in extremely limited quantities outside of Mexico. Montelobos and Machetazo mezcals also feature widely. At JOLOKO, mezcal is drunk the traditional way – out of jicara cups which are made out of the fruit of the calabash tree, served with worm salt and orange slices.
With the wide collection of mezcal available, it’s no surprise that the cocktails feature this traditional agave spirit with concoctions on the menu that are meant to show off the wide range of flavours that mezcal offers. The El Fuego Negro (RM46), a delightful twist on the classic Negroni replaces gin with mezcal. The cocktail is then elevated even further with black lemon bitters and soda, which makes it a refreshing drink that’s perfect for tropical weather while still maintaining its spirit-forwardness.
Coffee lovers can end their evening out with the Caffe No Se (RM42). A combination of mezcal with espresso and cream, as well as some hints of orange flavours makes this a deliciously invigorating cocktail that’s perfect for both dessert and a nightcap.
There’s also a section of the menu for teetotalers. Forget virgin versions of classic cocktails; the no ABV cocktails available are just as carefully crafted as the alcoholic beverages on the menu. Something Like a Phenomenon (RM16) combines fragrant rice water with tonka bean, cocoa husks and salted pineapple nectar to become a drink that’s both complex and delectable.
Much of the food menu here is designed to go with the drinks, such as the Roasted Cauliflower (RM25) with tahini or charcoal-grilled JamaicanJerk Chicken (RM65) to pair with the smokiness and richness of the drinks. If you’re looking for something extra special, dig into exquisite desserts like the Chili Cheesecake (RM20) and Wicked Ice Cream (RM18) that has seasonal flavours created specially for JOLOKO. We tried an amazing tonka bean ice cream, as well as a spicy mezcal sorbet that were both to die for.
Besides the amazing food, there are other reasons to pay a visit to JOLOKO as they host regular themed events for specific communities, sometimes even raising funds for NGOs. For example, instead of giving away free drinks on Ladies’ Night, they donate the sales to women-focused charities. It’s more than just a bar in a heritage house; JOLOKO wants to leave a legacy behind as well.
Address: 43, Jalan Kamunting, Chow Kit, 50300 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur Phone: +603 2694 1100 Website:https://www.bar-joloko.com/ Opening hours: Sun-Thu 5pm-1am, Fri-Sat 5pm-2am
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