The recently launched Joe’s Oriental Diner adds a much needed edge to the King’s Road. Aussie chef Scott Hallsworth brings his version of Pan Asian food to London, staying honest to the bare bone, gritty roots of recipes consumed in the ports of Asia. Joe’s has taken permanent residency in what was once the original Kurobuta Chelsea pop-up (Scott’s award winning Kurobuta Chelsea is now also a permanent fixture on the King’s Road no.312), and evokes the dive bar subculture of the Orient where all walks of life meet to enjoy music and good times.
We asked our wonderful hostess Helen to guide our food choices as we simply could not decide on what to go for – everything just sounded so good and Scott’s reputation for excellent food just threw us off. “We want it all!” we told Helen. In the meantime we made the only decision we knew how, drinks – we chose a teapot cocktail to start us off Sudthay; lychee, jasmine, bacardi, apple juice, this was potent but refreshing and a great start to our lunch (Helen had recommended a Smokin’ Joe; passionfruit, whisky & smoke but we wimped out as the lunchtime whisky seemed a little hardcore for our first drink). We nibbled on some uncle yam chips with satay salt, as we drank our teapot potion and awaited our surprise selection.
First to arrive was Crab rangoon – creamy crab wontons with a sweet chilli dip, the crab was delicious and the creaminess just right not to overpower the meat, the combination of the creamy and crispy were great too. Next there were pandan shrimp wraps – the shrimps were juicy and super tasty. We followed these with some walnut prawns – battered prawns and walnuts tossed in sriracha mayo. Again, the prawns were juicy and light despite being battered, and the walnuts and mayo gave them a lovely texture of both creamy and crunchy which really did delight the taste buds. Next to arrive was rare beef salad with nahm jim dressing, this was also part of the small plates section of the menu and Oh My God amazing. The beef was tender and the salad had a pickled taste, the mix was unexpected but really did complement the flavours beautifully.
So far so good, we were excited for what else was in store, and were even more intrigued when a jumbo diver scallop roasted with xo butter appeared from Joe’s fancy dishes part of the menu followed by an absolutely divine sheng salad: salmon sashimi salad with shredded radish, nuts, chillies, pomelo and nahm jim – the fresh salmon, the crunchy nuts the various flavours, everything about this dish was exquisite.
We ordered some prosecco to give ourselves a break from eating and a few minutes later BBQ belly pork with chilli jam arrived (larger plates section). Helen told us this was one of her favourites and we can see why. The pork was perfect, tender and juicy and the chilli jam really did bring out the flavours. Another Joe’s favourite followed of beef short rib rendang buns. We’d seen this on a few plates already as other customers had ordered it so we were quite curious – as with everything else we’d sampled so far the food here is unbelievably good and everything that we had eaten was second to none. We were now in danger of bursting out of our jeans but before we did Helen brought us our final dish of the day, duck leg red curry with lychees. Again impressive, the duck was tender and flavoursome and the lychees an interesting touch.
Yummy as everything was, we’d finally hit a food wall and decided with great pain to skip dessert (there was a choice of three mochi flavours, mango, coconut and pineapple or an exotic fruit plate).
Absolutely content with our lovely leisurely lunch, it’s safe to say good times were had by all – the lunchtime crowd was chilled and the playlist impressive, we noted quite a few of our indie pop favs from the 90s brit pop – present day.
With its anything goes atmosphere, Joe’s is becoming a firm Chelsea neighbourhood favourite, seating up to 38 guests, with an open kitchen and central bar and a secret ‘Den’ upstairs that seats up to 26 guests.
Believe it or not there’s still a few things left for us to try on the menu, so we’ll definitely be making a trip back real soon…
Twitter: @ScottHallsworth @joeslondon