Jo's Restaurant (Closed)
This will be my last post until I come back from my vacation to Paris in early June, as I’m leaving New York City on Monday. Over the extent of that time, please look at my Flickr just to see touristy photos as well as food porn.
My family and I wanted to celebrate my brother’s graduation from graduate school (he earned a MBA in Accounting and now a newly minted, qualified CPA, as he told me this morning) and ended up going to Jo’s in Nolita. We desired to have a casual dinner amongst us and have a few celebratory drinks for this honor. (Coincidentally enough, it’s Jo’s first year in its existence.)
Arriving earlier than the rest of my family, I saddled up to the bar and had a smooth yet potent Jo’s Martini (made of gin and cucumber vermouth); watching the locals meet up for drinks and having a good, raucous time during Happy Hour.
When my family arrived, we all got escorted to the small, brick-walled dining room, leather banquettes and wooden tables and chairs. Adorned with two large mirrors opposite each other, primarily candlelit. There was a private event going on in their Barn Door room, located in the back, adding some convivial chatter to the cozy, laid back, and intimate atmosphere.
Over the course of our dinner, we had a number of drinks: Kentucky Peach (made of Bourbon, peach puree, peach liqueur & lemon; it’s lightly peach-flavored and smoky), Strawberry Fields (made of vanilla-infused vodka, strawberries, lime & simple syrup; sweet, more vanilla than strawberry flavored and quite potent for my mom since there’s vodka in it), The Purple Heart (made of Gin, Champagne, cherry Heering liqueur & Marasche Luxardo cherry; refined sweetness with a touch of sparkle and cherries), Sancho (Tequila, lime, ancho chile honey & orange; very strong honey flavors with a warm background and the orange plays with the citrus flavors), and Lavender Mojito (Rum, lime, lavender simple syrup, mint & lime; very refreshing, as any Mojito should be, with a touch of lavender). All of the drinks are potent and delicious.
The first bite of food (or you can call it an amuse) was a Hood Canal oyster topped with bacon powder, yuzu and celery leaf. As adorable the presentation this was, this little bite packed a punch. The fresh, briny, mingled with the touch of bright citrus and smokiness.
Proceeding on with our rabid appetites, we had the grilled squid with chorizo stuffed, cilantro, tomato mousseline. Tender squid melded so well with the creamy, mildly spicy chorizo sausage. The tomato mousseline cooled off the heat of the stuffing.
For more bar-appropriate bites, the chicken wings that were smoked, tossed in a sake and black bean sauce with a dusting of bacon powder, were nice little nibbles to go down with a cocktail or a tall glass of cold beer. It’s smoky, fall apart tender, and has a touch of that funky, salty flavor that you’d normally encounter with fermented black beans.
The crispy pork ribs were garlic-glazed, topped with shiso leaf and toasted, crushed peanuts, were another great compliment to drinks. Effortless eating. You don’t even need a knife to tear out a piece of meat off the bone. It’s crisp, moist and chewy. Flavor-wise, it’s salty, barely sweet with a nice nuttiness. Slightly reminiscent of what Asian pork ribs are all about.
Marrow bone with boquerones was a daily special. The marrow was unctuously fatty but made light with the vinegary, bright flavors with a touch of chives. The boquerones (or anchovy) added a touch of saltiness and meatiness.
The bowl of mussels flavored with Serrano pepper, Thai curry, coconut, scallion, and lemongrass was delicious. Meaty morsels work with the nutty, fiery heat. It’s soo good. I just wished they served more bread to sop off the sauce in the bottom.
The Chicken & Egg is essentially chicken cooked three ways, that is if you count the egg as chicken: the thigh is poached, the breast meat is roasted and the egg is baked in custard form, with asparagus, that its center is still runny and yolky. This particular dish sounded simple but it’s very good. The chicken thigh and breast meat were very moist and I liked how crisp the skin (from the breast) was. The egg’s runny center seduced me, as I love eggs cooked soft.
The Porterhouse of Pork is pretty much what this pork chop cut was, topped with pickled radicchio, sitting under a large bed of couscous, peas and fava beans. I do like this dish but it’s a bit salty, especially the couscous portion. The pork itself was well seasoned and perfectly cooked and moist. The pickled cabbage added a fresh, salty crunch to the party.
Trying almost all of their small dessert menu: ricotta and mascarpone cheesecake, the churro thumbs, and chocolate molten cake, the churros edged out the most. It’s piping hot and crisp, coated in cinnamon sugar, when dipped with the raspberry sauce (my preference over the chocolate), it’s very tasty. The cheesecake was light in texture and the blueberries were a good yet traditional pairing. The chocolate molten cake has the expected oozy, chocolatey core and will satisfy any chocoholic and it’s very rich and dense.
This dinner was a good way to celebrate my brother’s graduation. It’s convivial, laid back, and comforting (both in terms of atmosphere and food). We have met the gracious hosts and owners, Johnny Santiago and Jim Chu, during our dinner and Mr. Santiago congratulated my brother on our way out.
To many years for Mr. Santiago and Chu’s venture of Jo’s. Congratulations to my brother, who I am very proud of. Cheers.