Since its opening in January 2020, JHOL has become the go-to Indian restaurant for a lot of our friends. However, from the pictures on social media, it felt like a place for lavish tasting menus during special occasions. I realized how wrong I was as I walked into JHOL for the first time. The beautiful chic ambience exuded a bit of fun, it had an extensive ala carte menu, and even opens all day everyday.
Furthermore, it’s not your typical Indian restaurant that pushes out Tandoori Fish and Chicken Tikka Masala with Butter Naan. Chef Hari Nayak added his own modern twists to traditional Coastal Indian dishes to give the diners a refreshing new perspective of the cuisine, starting with its ultimate signature dish – the Masala Maska Bun with Pav Baji Butter.
Masala Maska Bun with Pav Baji Butter [240THB] – The soft steaming-hot buns stuffed with spiced potato were already great by themselves, smearing them with the Pav Baji Butter took them through the roof.
Beguni – Eggplant Fritters, Kasundi Dip, Kaffir Lime Podi [290THB] – This crunchy addictive snack was perfect foil for the soft Maska Buns. I had to control myself as I wanted to enjoy the feast that followed.
Baby Back Injipuli Pork Ribs with Ginger Tamarind Jaggery Glaze [490THB] – Of all the main dishes, this proved to be the most familiar-tasting one, with the sauce giving hints of both Thai (tamarind) and Chinese (ginger, sweet and sour) cuisine, coating fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs. It was a comforting eat for me, one that I will order again for sure.
Alleppey Fish Curry with Tempered Taro and Matta Rice [620THB] – A dish that has to be eaten hot to enjoy the texture of King Mackerel at its best, the smooth curry had a slight tang that gave it great balance. I also enjoyed the tempered taro that came with it.
Chingri Malaikari – Bengali Style Tiger Prawn Curry with Ghee Rice [620THB] – This was the ultimate star of the show for me. The tiger prawns were fresh and huge, and its prawny essence infused into the whole curry. For someone who loves prawns but had never enjoyed it in an Indian curry dish, this was unforgettable. A shrimp and a huge ladle of curry over the accompanying Ghee rice was enough to make me very happy indeed.
Chettinad Lamb Shank – Blackpepper, Stone Flower, Crispy Potatoes [890THB] – This lamb shank looked like Massaman but tasted nothing like it. It had a deep earthy rich flavour that set it apart from every other dish on the table.
Baby Banana – Cardamom, Filtered Kaapi Ice Cream [290THB] – I was too stuffed after the mains to enjoy any dessert, but if you have a sweet tooth and need one to have a sense of completion, go for the Baby Banana, which is a treat for the ‘gram and packs a pleasant surprise.
All in all, I left understanding why JHOL is a frequent haunt for so many of my friends. It is suitable for any occasion (with a sufficient mix of dishes to do it), whether it’s a casual chat with a friend (it opens from noon to 10pm everyday!), or a special date to impress your dearest, and promises to show you a side of Indian cuisine you would likely not have seen before.