The Oakham Curry Club (OCC) is one of the worlds most respected reviewers of Indian cuisine. With multiple international franchises, we relentlessly scour the globe in pursuit of the crispiest poppadoms, the tastiest sauces and spiciest curries.
The KL branch of the OCC recently visited the newly opened Jhann in Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur, to taste its cuisine on its opening weekend.
JHANN, an iteration of the word Jaan (जान), - literally translates into ‘Life’, broadly used as a term of endearment in East Asia for someone dear to you, ‘Meri Jaan’ - ‘My love’; ‘My darling’.
We rate restaurants on 5 categories, out of 10, with equal weighting. The scores for Jhann was as follows:
Customer Care - 7.50
Service – 7.00
Value – 5.50
Quality – 6.00
Atmosphere – 8.50
Total – 6.90
Jhann really tries to do something a bit different, and provide a premium Indian dining experience in a high end setting, but sadly for all its glitz and glamour, it just falls short where it matters the most.
Upon entering Jhann, there is a lot to like. The restaurant is bright, open and finished with high quality decor. We are shown to our table by a number of well mannered staff and start to look through the menu. Different to most Indian restaurants, this is not a book style menu, instead, simply a large A3 piece of card split into starters, mains and desserts. The choice is fairly limited, albeit in some respects that is not necessarily a negative given it does allow for a much quicker ordering process, but you quickly realise with options like Truffle Roti, Tandoori Fondant and Lamb Shank, Jhann is clearly trying to bring a classy angle to Indian dining.
We started with poppadoms, but as you may expect, this was not your average plate of 6 simple fried discs, but an assorted array of multiple shapes, sizes and flavours, accompanied by a range of premium chutneys. From a presentation perspective, they truly looked superb, albeit not the easiest to share, and for all the stylistic joys, it did perhaps leave you wondering whether there was anything wrong with the humble poppadom.
When the mains arrived, again, it was hard not to be immediately impressed. The food is all made in today's Instagrammable world, and our curry dish for example came in a beautiful dish, surrounded by colourful rocks, served on top of a black platter. We were given three options: no spice, mild, or spicy, and opted for the spiciest choice. Whilst the presentation received full marks, the curry was sadly lacking in flavor, and would arguably not even qualify as mild in most traditional Indian restaurants, let alone 'the spicy option'. If you don't like spice, then I'm sure it's fine for you, but this very much felt a watered down version of what curry could (and should) be. I have no issues giving people the option for mild curries, but at least have the ability to crank it up a notch if required by the guests who would like a little more kick.
The service throughout was attentive, and the staff are clearly making an effort to please, but it did feel like everyone was still trying to learn the ropes. Hopefully with each passing week, things become more seamless and well oiled.
Pricing for KL was expensive: the poppadom selection was around USD 12; other starters were USD 7-15, and naans were USD 3-4. In a group, the price per pax works out around USD 25 (RM 100) for the food (excluding alcoholic drinks), and that is at the high end for this city.
Our big worry with an establishment like this, is that people will come once to try it, but will they return? That's the big question.
To conclude, we enjoyed the experience and appreciate what the owners are trying to do, but a few tweaks to the food would make a world of difference. For now, it was a touch too much style over substance.