Early last week, hubby and I headed to Branford, CT to attend the food event at Jojoto. Thankfully, I was allowed to bring a guest, so yay! Hubby has as much of an opinion about the food as I do. Like me, he also takes photographs while the event is going on. He is SnapHappy Foodie’s silent contributor, so another yay for that!
I was looking forward to going to Jojoto because of its Executive Chef Neil Fuentes, the Singing Chef. I met Neil back in 2012 when I interviewed and photographed him for a school project. Since then, we kept in touch by Facebook. When I received the invitation to the event, I was raring to go, hoping to surprise him. When hubby and I arrived, the very amiable and charming Neil called out my name and gave me a warm hug. At some point during the evening, he showed me the photograph I took of him and said that he still uses it online. Anyway…
Hubby and I arrived early for the 6:30pm event. Before we entered the restaurant, we took some pictures outside.
This is what greets you upon entering the restaurant.
Here’s a gallery of the interior shots. I love the cool green and white scheme they used because it’s very refreshing. Don’t forget to click on the little dots on the top center of each photo!
Meet Jojoto’s friendly and hospitable owner, Mr Victor Figueroa.
They offered us drinks, but I postponed drinking until the event officially started. I wanted to take pictures!
We sat on the table with Neil and Victor, who treated us like we were guests in their home. Neil said they were entertaining us the way his mom would if we went to her house.
I ordered two drinks for us – the Passion Fruit and Jalapeno cocktail and the Jojoto Mint Julep.
“You read ‘Jojoto’ but just say ‘Hohoto'”.
What exactly does “jojoto” mean? They told us that it means corn on the cob. They focus especially on corn because 80% of food in Venezuelan cuisine is made of corn. Even the restaurant’s motif is based on the colors of the jojoto.
For starters, they served us Tequeños, Venezuelan cheese sticks made of Venezuelan white cheese that’s a cross between mozzarella and feta cheeses. The dip was made of ketchup, mayonnaise and sesame oil.
Then they served us Empanadas – beef, chicken, rice and beans too, I think.
They gave us quarter-sized Arepas to fill with shredded chicken, chicken salad and beef. The typical arepa isn’t so small, but what we tasted was more than enough. Both Neil and Victor mentioned that arepa is an all-around food – you can eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even as a snack. You can even eat it on the go. That’s how versatile it is.
Then they introduced us to Cachapas, fresh sweet corn pancakes with fresh cheese. To eat it, you slather butter on the pancake, put the cheese on the pancake, fold the pancake in half then enjoy!
The Ensalada Mixta was a sight to behold. It had tomato, palm hearts, beets, potatoes, carrots, hardboiled quail eggs and crispy bacon.
The main dish for the night was the Pabellon Criollo (Venezuela’s national dish with shredded beef, rice, black beans and fried plantains) served family-style. I’ve had this dish before, but their version tasted more delicious than what I’ve had before.
Here’s my plate of Pabellon Criollo with Chicken Abraza right smack in the middle. Chicken Abraza is a really delicious and easy-to-make chicken dish with lime zest, lime juice, garlic, cilantro, salt, pepper and olive oil.
Just when I thought there wouldn’t be any room in my tummy for food, they brought out the desserts – Tres Leches and Coconut Custard Cake.
Meet Jojoto’s hardworking staff.
The Jojoto business partners
I had my picture taken with these two gentlemen, of course.
At the end of the night, it felt like we were hanging out with good ol’ friends. We laughed, ate and drank with them. The high-octane Neil would burst into song every now and then. When you visit Jojoto, spare enough time for a proper meal, possibly two hours. This is not fast-food fare they serve. Everything is made from scratch. When you go to Jojoto, it’s a chance to take your time and enjoy a good meal. FYI: their menu is changing on November 2nd.
We can’t wait to go back to Jojoto. Food as good as theirs, there might be a queue during our next visit. Hopefully, we’ll still be able to get seats. Until next time, Jojoto!
130 Shore Drive Branford, CT 06405
Disclaimer: I received an invitation for this food event from a PR firm in exchange for writing a review on this blog. I also know the Executive Chef Neil Fuentes due to a school project back in 2012. All opinions in this blog post are my own and my husband’s.