I’d heard plenty of great things about Blue Joanna, and the couple of times I’d tried to visit before on a Saturday night previously, they’d been fully booked – always a good sign – but fortunately I was finally able to snag a table recently. Blue Joanna says they serve up Asian style street food and, while the menu is predominantly comprised of this, there are also a few dishes that don’t really fall into this category; namely tacos and sweet potato fries (certainly far from unwelcome inclusions). The restaurant itself is fairly small in size, with seating for about 25 people, plus additional stools in the window and at the bar; and at weekends live music takes place around the painted blue piano.
While my boyfriend and I perused the menu, we were bought complimentary a dish of popcorn to graze on, which was a nice touch. The waiter was incredibly helpful when I told him I was coeliac, and informed me that most of the dishes were already gluten free or could be made so – plus, there is a separate fryer for wheat-y items to avoid cross contamination. Dishes are made for sharing, and he suggested four to five between the pair of us; I decided we should go for five, as everything sounded incredible and I wanted to try as much as possible!
A pair of Chicken Tacos arrived first, and we tucked straight in. A generous amount of chicken, fresh slaw, spring onion and a lightly spiced dressing topped gluten free blue corn tortillas – and tasted absolutely delicious. I was overjoyed to discover the crispy tofu balls were gluten free, and even happier once I’d tried them. The outside had a good bite, giving way to a wonderfully soft centre with a slight chilli kick (nothing my sensitive stomach couldn’t handle), and came served wth a sweet chilli dipping sauce that was the perfect accompaniment.
Somewhat of a revelation was the Aubergine, which was cooked to absolute perfection and topped with just the right amount of miso and ginger glaze; while the smattering of sesame seeds offered a nice little crunch alongside the softer veg. The Broccoli, too, was coated with an absolutely delectable sauce – we’re 99% certain it was mirin (though don’t quote me on that), and its subtle sweetness was the ideal contrast to the earthier veg. Last but not least, the Sweet Potato Fries were some of the best – and longest – I have ever had. They arrived last and I was feeling full already by this point, but still managed to devour over half the basket; which is testament to their greatness.
Normally when I visit a restaurant that serves sharing plates, I anticipate not much food for an extortionate amount of money – but the opposite could not have been true at Blue Joanna. Offering some of the best value I have experienced in a very long time, five plates (with so much food that we couldn’t quite finish it all) and two drinks cost just over £25 in total. Add in the fact it’s some of the best food I’ve enjoyed in a long while, and it all seems even more unbelievable. You can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be back – after reserving a table well in advance so I’m not left disappointed as I dream of miso-glazed aubergine.