Jojo’s Jajangmyeon is a new restaurant located at 1630 Cedar Hill Cross Rd., beside the Fairway on Shelbourne Street. While it features traditional Chinese-Korean comfort foods, its atmosphere and new way of ordering is anything but old school.
As I walked into Jojo’s, the bubbly hostess led me to my table as expected, but when she produced an iPad in lieu of a menu, my expression turned quizzical. She instructed me on how to order and left me a small cup of tea and the iPad with a standing case.
Navigating the menu was simple enough. Even my grandmother owns an iPad; the technology barrier is slim, but I wasn’t convinced of its purpose. All for flash? The modern decor with Asian influences was nice, but it didn’t strike me as overly lavish. Why shell out the money for a fleet of techno-menus? Then I pressed the order button. “Thank you, your order has been accepted” pops up on the screen. Of course! They’ve taken out the middleman. My thumbs were saved from twiddling; I didn’t need to wait for a waitress to take my order.
Jojo’s doors opened mid January, though originally scheduled for September. Those of us in the Shelbourne Plaza area have been eagerly awaiting its arrival. The hype has caused huge lineups to form on peak nights. Direct iPad ordering would be a key feature of making a dinner rush run smoothly, but Jojo’s is not the first of its kind.
Lift, a relaxed fine dining restaurant in Vancouver, also offers its menu on an iPad. It even goes so far as to offer wine pairings on its iPad menu. Then, of course, there is the trend of delivery places putting all their orders online. There are various websites now that offer a conglomerate of delivery restaurants on one site, like just-eat.ca. You may have seen their stickers in restaurant windows around town: “Don’t Cook Just Eat” in red and white letters with a crossed knife and whisk. The site shows you the menus of every delivery restaurant (signed up with Just Eat) in your area.
I won’t be the one to step in the way of progressing technology, as long as it doesn’t affect the flavour. Jojo’s, thankfully, is not all flash. It has many reasonable dishes with good comfort flavours. The fried chicken is delightfully crunchy and comes in a variety of sauces. I tried the Yangneum chicken and was very satisfied with the tangy-sweet ginger flavour. All the dishes that I’ve tried have been quite good, but my main critique is the price. A main dish costs roughly $17, and although the portions are good, I’d feel more comfortable paying $14. A minor critique, I know, but I can’t let them get off scot-free. The Samsun seafood fried rice was simple and highly addictive; it’s one of the cheaper dishes. Jojo’s served it with a hot broth and a thick brown sauce on the side, both of which really added to the dish. The thick brown sauce seems to be featured in many of the dishes. I can only assume it is the sauce from which Jojo’s gets its name.
Jajangmyeon, from what I’ve found online, is a dish originating from China and Korea. A noodle dish topped with a thick, brown soybean sauce. On its own, the texture might throw the more “vanilla” of its patrons for a bit of a loop (myself included). It’s thick to the point of being gelatinous, somewhere between pudding and hot tar on a summer day. Thankfully, it is served with other things, and so, you wouldn’t ever notice.
There are a few enclosed tables off to one side of the restaurant perfect for larger groups. The establishment also has a larger room that, should you bring enough friends, may be rented out for a karaoke party. I only hope the choice of karaoke songs is better than the awful mix of last year’s Top 40 and K-Pop songs that plays over the restaurant’s main speakers.
On the whole, technology only served to make Jojo’s better (music notwithstanding). For a moderately priced night out, it’s a great time. Just order the chicken and don’t question the brown sauce.