Like its sister bar Jaabar, JaaKitchen can be difficult to locate, especially since the address says it’s on Hollywood Road. It’s actually on the lower ground level, which is accessible via a little alleyway on Peel. Once you’ve found it, you’ll be greeted with an intimate space with décor that is laid-back and indulgently luxurious at the same time – a quality that is sometimes, but not always, reflected in the food.
From the restaurant’s ‘comfort Continental’ menu, the scallop carpaccio ($88) is pleasantly supple and mildly flavoured and slicked in a piquant paprika oil. The diced apple pieces, however, are too fine to have any discernible effect on the overall flavour and texture of the dish. And taking mild to a whole new level, the paprika salmon ($78) lacks flavour despite being served with a healthy dose of truffle vinaigrette.
It’s probably important to note that the appetisers are relatively skimpy, which is why we appreciate the fact the mains come in much more generous portions. The slow-cooked salmon ($150) boasts a delicate flake and deep flavour, which matches particularly well with the excellent tomato-based house marinade. The roasted spring chicken ($148), on the other hand, is standard stuff that even falls on the dry side. Interestingly, the salmon comes with a side of fried zucchini and the chicken is served with deep-fried, battered okra, both confirming that vegetables indeed taste best when sizzled in oil.
The highlight of a meal is undoubtedly dessert. The chocolate brownie ($72) is a lesson in balance; it straddles between dense and light, and carries a richness that isn’t overbearing on the palate. Its accompaniment of toasted almond coffee cream is a creative idea but is too light with a faint flavour that barely stands up to the main act, let alone enriches it. Really, the brownie on its own is satisfying enough.
JaaKitchen offers an experience that is delicately exquisite at best and bland at worst – and there’s a fine line between the two. Heenu Nihalani
LG/F, 61-63 Hollywood Rd, Central, 2545 5988; www.jaakitchen.com. Mon-Sat 11.45am-1am & Sun 11am-10.45pm. Dinner for two: around $600.
LG/F, 61-63 Hollywood Rd, Central