Joya has stared me down on University Avenue,
and I finally tried it.
This Spanish restaurant in Palo Alto offers a rather extensive menu - even for lunch - so my friend and I decided to go with the chef's selection of appetizers.
You know what I love about tapas?
The art is yours to create.
A little salami-like slice for some colorful salt, a little bread slice for a buttery base, and toppings of vinegary veggies (the crunch!) and slim, translucent proscuitto. An olive, to anchor the creation.
The flavors blended beautifully.
I appreciated the variety of different offerings on the tapas sampler, but I appreciated, most of all, that they complemented each other. Traveling from the cheese-stuffed pepper to the mini empanadas did not seem that jarring at all.
If you're not sure what to order at Joya, start with the chef's sampler.
You could end there, for your meal.
You could also proceed past the appetizer and order an open-faced sandwich.
My friend's entree. He picked out the odd ends of the salad garden but devoured the rest.
I believe that is a sign of approval. I would have gleefully poked over with my fork, but I was too occupied with my entree.
Does gazpacho usually present itself like this?
Is it only Joya?
A few weeks ago, when flipping through channels, I came across a short Rachel Ray promotion, where she tore tomatoes apart in a food processor, threw in a handful of different ingredients, and poured the mixture out for -
Hers was a big, gloppy red mess.
But this - this was beauty.
See the extra lumps of green, under the bed of green?
Yup, that's guacamole. An extra surprise.
Just like the sharp, sour tang that added a kick to an overall savory sensation.
The different sides of the soup didn't taste too different from one another. The orange presented a slightly sweet undertone, detected only after multiple taste tests.
The tomatoes were there, but the taste wasn't so strong that it overpowered all the other flavors. What were the other flavors?
I couldn't say. But it made for a great introduction to gazpacho. Slightly chilled, but not frigid.
The soup was sensational, swirled.
As for the dessert?
I have never - EVER - had such soft, chewy, crumbly churros in my life.
Then again, I've only had churros from county fairs and - hey, I've had them from taquerias, too.
Those should be good, right?
When I bit into one of Joya's churros, however, the whole concoction just fell apart in my mouth - yet the rest retained its structure, intact in my hand.
And the chocolate?
Rich, thick, a veritable sauce.
Too thick for drinking chocolate, but if I didn't have my friend there to share this with...
Let's just say, it's better to go to Joya with company.
Perhaps on a special occasion?
Our lunch bill came out to $62 for two.
I dine out often. I rarely splurge - especially on lunch.
But I didn't regret anything. The best part of Joya was that the experience was enjoyable, but not too enjoyable that I couldn't enjoy the rest of the day.
Three courses, no food coma, a light warmth in my tummy, and the aroma of chocolate aftertaste in my mouth?
I've changed my dining philosophy. Fewer mediocre lunches, and pool the money together for a few spectacular ones.
I'd give up four $8 meals for another sit-down at Joya.
Or, maybe, I'll just order a shot of that chocolate.
Posted by Michelle Kang at 10:30 AM