Asian Flair: The latest offering by ZS Hospitality, J.A.M (Joint Asian Market) is a new food court concept that brings together popular casual fare from four Southeast Asian cuisines.
Look & Feel: We’ll be honest – J.A.M isn’t much to look at. Tucked to a side of the lobby of a commercial building in Central, the space features simple wood-esque tables, pink chairs or red and plastic stools, and neutral paneled walls. To give credit where it’s due, this is meant to be space inspired by the food court and hawker centers of Southeast Asia, and to that end, it does very well – and, given the efforts made to add some design-forward touches, it’s fair to say that this could be considered a slightly more upscale take on the average food court.
On the Menu: Given the culinary heft behind the concept, it’s not surprising that the food is genuinely good. There are four outlets here: Mama Market, a Korean deli helmed by Chef Song Ha-seul-lam (previously of two Michelin-starred Mingles); Moi Moi, a Vietnamese spot headed by Chef Dinh Dinh-Tuan; SiFu, a Dim Sum stall created by Chef Cheung Kin-Ming, the Sous Chef at two Michlin-starred Ying Jee Club; and Uncle Quek, a Singaporean outlet by Chef Barry Quek, previously of Beet.
Because of pandemic restrictions, lunch is very much the way to go, and J.A.M delivers with fully-loaded lunch sets from each store. Each stall offers two appetizers, two mains, and two desserts, that diners can pick and choose from to create a three-course meal. The catch? You have to order the entire meal from one stall, so you can’t pick and choose different dishes. To test the waters, we order the Vietnamese set from Moi Moi and the Singaporean set from Uncle Quek.
The service is fast, which is exactly what you’d hope for in a food court, so that’s a plus. Another one? The sets are quite honestly, massive. For the Singapore set, we pick chicken wings to start, seafood laksa for the main, and kueh dadar (a popular local pandan pancake filled with coconut and peanuts) and add on a classic Milo Dinosaur to drink. The laksa is absolutely massive, and we are pleasantly surprised at its authenticity – it’s a coconuty, spicy delight -and the Milo Dinosaur is the perfect accompaniment and brings back childhood memories. The kueh dadar is similarly delicious, although, with only two tiny slices instead of the two rolls you’d get anywhere else, it seems a little stingy. The Vietnamese set, which came with prawn fritters, tumeric sole cold rice vermicelli, and pandan or coffee crème caramel – along with a Vietnamese Drip Coffee add-on – was equally delicious but better proportioned.
Overall, the food is good, and exactly what you want for this kind of fare and dining concept. The only quibble would be with the price. At around $138-$158 per set, you might not consider this overly expensive for a set lunch in Central. But, given the fact that this is essentially a food court and that you’re eating what is essentially street food, it does seem unjustifiably expensive. Unfortunately, this is Hong Kong and that’s simply what you pay here.
Jeng: The food. It’s honestly the best part of the overall experience.
Not So Jeng: Unfortunately, there’s not much atmosphere here, but then you’re not coming here for the vibes. Also refer to previous comments about price.
Great For: Quick, casual lunches.
FYI: J.A.M is also doing afternoon tea sets, and there are plans to roll our a la carte menus and extend dinner service once pandemic restrictions are lifted.
Check out Hong Kong’s newest restaurants and bars here.
This writeup was based on a complimentary media tasting. The Loop HK doesn’t guarantee/sell restaurant review coverage. See our editorial policy here.