Famished Brummies looking for a sleek, cosy-chic space ideal for dinner dates and cocktail parties need look no further than Jojolapa on Frederick St, Jewellery Quarter.
Since its recent shift to the Jewellery Quarter from Newhall Street, it’s a place I’ve walked past dozens of times. Ashamedly I’ve never actually visited Jojolapa, not even in its former destination. I wasn’t interested before, purely for the fact I never actually knew much about them, or what type of cuisine they serve. After a recent meal at Jojolapa, I will hold my hands up and say, my bad. It was sheer laziness on my part for not venturing here sooner.
The outside is basic but once inside the family-run restaurant, it boasts a sleek interior of brown and red; an accompaniment of dark wooden flooring, industrial hanging lights and high beams as finishing touches. Table decor is also minimal but neatly set. An intricate carved Buddha head aptly greets visitors (Jojolapa translates into ‘welcome’ in Nepalese) – and the whole place has a vibrant feel. It accommodates all size groups and grew busy on the Wednesday night we were there. It’s an ideal place to kick back and unwind with a drink after work. The fully licensed bar provides a great wine and beer selection too. Obviously, Cobra is a fabulous choice.
Owing to the bold presence of Buddhist and Hindu traditions in Nepal, Nepalese cuisine traditionally appeals to both vegetarians and meat eaters – so everyone is happy. The restaurant menu differs to the web version so it’s best not to browse until you are there. Veggie options are very generous, with the kofta – (mixed vegetable balls, mildly spiced with creamy rich unique sauce) sounding like an absolute dream. Will definitely be trying that next time.
TThe main menu is packed full of hearty starters. From the signature Steamed Momo (a blend of Chinese and Indian influences steamed dumplings) to tempting kebabs and chops. We bypassed these for some reason and opted for the recommended option of Chicken Chillis Special – £6.50, a delectable combination of sweet and sour notes, with a hidden bite coming from Chinese and Indian spices. I ordered the Salmon Polayko – £7.99, a chunk of fresh Scottish salmon marinated overnight with spices and dill, then cooked to perfection in a charcoal clay oven. Both were gorgeous starters and the salmon is bought fresh each day. I’m yet to try another piece of salmon like it as it was a delectable 10/10. The colour alone is enough to encourage sweet sensations.
Moving swiftly onto the mains, the Chitwan Curry – £11.99 is, what the owner told us, one of the popular dishes on the menu. Originating from the chef’s home town in the famous animal sanctuary district in Nepal, the meat, (chicken, lamb or prawn) is simmered in strong flavours of garlic, chilli and a blend of mixed spices. This dish is full of the Nepalese flavour and Josh hiccuped his way through the entire meal. It was hotter than it looked, apparently.
Thankfully I could eat mine without interruption. For the £15.99 price tag you’d expect a mouth party and thankfully, I received one. I expected a tiny bit more tang in the dish, but the Phewa Tal Ko Maacha is an effortlessly silky, rich stew combined of coconut, king prawns, scallop, mussels and squid. I’m a huge fan of creamy curries, so this was fantastic. I’d go as far to say it’s one of the nicest fish dishes I’ve eaten in Birmingham. But I haven’t tried them all so who am I to know? If you like both sweet and spicy notes, give this one a whirl.
As we gulped down the last bit of our drinks, we were told that Jojolapa doesn’t serve dessert – just like in Nepal. I didn’t actually know this so I feel proper cultured now. We were so stuffed and satisfied from the rice, naan and main combination to even care to be honest. If you need just 3 reasons to visit Jojolapa, it would be for their wonderful variety of both vegetarian and meat dishes, attentive service and welcome setting. I did hear that on the odd occasion it can get quite cold in there, but with the flavoursome hearty food and summer coming up, I’m sure you won’t give a damn.
21 Frederick Street, Birmingham B1 3HE
Thanks to Notebook Birmingham for the invite. I attended with a media invite and a +1 in return for honest feedback. All food and drinks were complementary.