“Eclectic food” – that is the buzzword proclaimed on the sites and in description of the latest concept restaurant by Chef Johari Edrus, aka Chef Jo/Papa Jo, a former MasterChef Malaysia juror.
Personally, this “eclectic” word got me skeptical and raised more than a few eyebrows with a few friends of mine.
Most snorted, others rolled their eyes and asked me to be the guinea pig while a few laughed and surmised it as another expensive outlet relying on the chef’s name to pull in the crowd.
Oh yes, my makan gang can be unforgiving.
Personally I wouldn’t visited if it wasn’t for two friends; Iskandar (owner of Dua by Skohns) who praised it to the skies after his birthday dinner and another chef friend who assured me that Papa Jo knows what he is doing.
I’ll quote him right here – “Papa Jo can cook, he’s not another ‘show chef’.”
Assured and with some expectations set, we went in search of Symphony by Jo in the current still-dying DC Mall.
The last I was here was in Dec 2016 where I enjoyed value Thai meals at Tigerlily Thai Restaurant and now, 10 months later, the mall remained pretty dead despite more F & B outlets opening up. Birch is another hip spot that is pulling in the crowd with its pretty decor and Instagrammable cakes but more on that in another post.
Getting to the restaurant itself was akin to a treasure hunt. Do yourself a favour and call ahead or head to the information counter for directions.
The interior possesses all the makings of a fine dining restaurant – a show kitchen, impressive amount of fancy serving ware (you will get what I mean when you dine here), dining sections furnished to exude varying vibes and low lighting that many such outlets fancy, but essentially a photographer’s nightmare.
As I browsed the menu I had to admit that eclectic is the right word. Ambitious and mind boggling would suit as well.
The current menu consist of wrinkled printed A4 copies but we were assured that the fancy menu would be ready soon. Leafing through 20 pages under the food section alone would work up an appetite. If you insist on reading the description for each dish, it could very well be an hour before you are ready to order.
I wanted the Philly Steak sandwich since that is elusive in the Klang Valley (Mikey’s Bangsar does a so-so version) and my makan partner took Papa Jo’s recommendations of pitzaal (their fancy name for pizza) and escargots.
As we waited for our meal, we ordered a mocktail as well as Papa Jo’s Inah – a specially imported superior red grape juice meant to mimic wine, but one that does a very bad job of it.
In case you’re wondering, Symphony by Jo is pork-free and alcohol free.
RM80 ++ per bottle, RM20++ per glass. 3 selections – Carbenet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz.
My advice? Forget it if you’re a wine connoisseur but order it if you don’t consume alcohol and could foresee yourself enjoying glorified Ribena.
Whatever reservations I had about Symphony at Jo dissipated upon the arrival of the escargot.
My my, this is a first!
Half a dozen of the snails in instagrammable (Ok, I admit I’m a sucker for photogenic food presentations) petite pots sporting a golden dome over each – these are pretty indeed!
Of course, the proof is in the eating and I’m happy to report that these tasty snails passed the taste test!
RM48++ per order.
The Crispy Marmite Chicken Pitzaal (cream based thin crust pizza with chunky Marmite chicken, olives, fresh basil, onions, mozzarella cheese pineapple and kiwi) ticked all the right boxes for a pleasant pizza – tasty, neither spicy or overly salty but well loaded with ingredients coupled with a fresh, nice crust. RM28++.
The general sense of satisfaction from a good lunch diminished when my highly anticipated Philly Steak Sandwich (RM55++) arrived.
As I took my shots I was already uneasy at the color. Once I took a bite of the steak, I had to send it back to the kitchen to have it cooked slightly more, for this is blue, not med rare as I’ve specifically requested.
A small oversight but for a restaurant with a large portion of its menu dedicated to steaks I had expected the cooks to nail my med rare request without a glitch.
The kitchen sent me a new Philly Steak slightly over 30 minutes later. This is a much improved version don’t you think?
As you can see, the center of the steak are pink and the sides well browned.
We didn’t order desserts as we were stuffed. Besides, nothing on the menu caught my fancy.
But I do wish to return soon. The plan is to try the “Dirty Laundry”- deep-fried lamb ribs accompanied by a variety of dips and served pegged like laundry (great for pictures!) as well as the homemade salted beef sandwich, another favourite of mine but pretty elusive on the menus by KL restaurants.
Just FYI, one of their signature is a pappardelle tossed with chocolate, spicy seafood & Korean gochujang paste which sounds adventurous so if you’re feeling bold, go for it and let me know of your verdict!
In conclusion, with such a diverse menu I’m sure there is something for everyone. Food is essentially fusion and artfully presented. Service is efficient and warm.
Still in doubt? Try the RM28++ Executive X’press Lunch (EXL) sets as a start. Each set comes with house salad, bread and soup of your choice.
Otherwise it is still a nice place to hang out for coffee or drinks within DC Mall. Chill with Papa Jo’s housemade gelato (RM18++ per scoop / Musang King at RM28++/scoop), a freak shake, Nitro Coffee and maybe a glass of Inah?
Symphony by Chef Jo
L1.19-L1.21, First Floor, Damansara City Mall,
Jalan Damanlela, Kuala Lumpur.