Eat Drink KL: JIS Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Yap Kwan Seng

Thursday, September 10, 2020

JIS Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Yap Kwan Seng

With physical distancing being the norm in recent months, meeting and mingling with new acquaintances in a safe environment might seem like a faraway fantasy. Still, there's somewhere in the city where kindred spirits can find each other - JIS Kuala Lumpur, the first international offshoot of a Japanese social lounge, seeks to offer a worry-free space where fresh friendships can blossom.

Our first visit to JIS was in March, before the Movement Control Order kicked in. Even then, we were impressed by the professionalism and precautions taken by JIS' friendly team, with mandatory hand santisers and temperature checks before patrons can step in.

JIS' approach is dynamic and distinctive, aimed at fostering meaningful connections, across more than 10,000 square feet located a very short drive from KLCC.

Everyday is Ladies' Night to the highest degree, as female guests can enter for free and enjoy a wide selection of complimentary food and drinks throughout the evening. Men pay an entrance fee of RM15, followed by a rate of RM6 every 10 minutes, entitling them to free drinks.

A break-the-ice matching service between men and women is optional - men will be charged RM15 for every 10 minutes of matches (or RM18 for 10 minutes on Friday and Saturday nights and on the eve of public holidays). Games like Jenga, UNO and Reversi are available for the young at heart.

JIS' attentive team facilitates the matches to help everyone be paired with somebody suitable - if you don't like your match, you can discreetly key in an extraction request through tablets on the table. Peace of mind is assured; only chatting is allowed.

All this happens in two separate plush halls - the first is The Gatsby, with gorgeous lights that evoke Western-inspired glitz, glitter and glamour, accommodating up to 150 persons.

On busier evenings, JIS' larger Sakura Modern room will be open, holding up to 250 persons in a cavernous area with video projections on walls that change colours for a vibrant setting. With long, comfortable sofas and cushy pillows galore, plus soothing music gently playing in the background, it's easy to spend several hours chilling out here.

The lounge showcases multiple sections, some intimate corners with a little more privacy and others with a sweeping perspective for people-watching.

Even the restrooms are extra-sophisticated, with amenities to freshen up nicely. The women's bathroom has hairdryers. make-up removal kits, changing rooms and more, while the men get grooming accessories such as hair-styling products and deodorants.

One of the perks here is the free flow of cocktails and other beverages on the house. Where else in KL can ladies sip complimentary cocktails starting 6pm every evening? Even for men, the cocktails on their own will make the admission fees worthwhile, since the selection is strong. You'll be seeing red with cocktails like the Bloodytini (gin with blood orange syrup, pure grapefruit, lemon juice), mocktails like the Passion Sunset (passion fruit, grenadine, lemon rantcho, soda water) and monthly specials (perhaps a pandan-infused potion, or others with boba recently).

Premium cocktails are available to purchase at an exceptionally low cost - there are numerous possibilities too, spanning Japanese-inflected novelties like the Sake New Old Fashioned (RM3; sake, lychee liqueur, orange bitters) and Blossom (RM3; a Sakura Modern-suitable creation with sake, rose, cherry blossom extract and lemon juice), as well as evergreen favourites like the Cosmopolitan (RM3; vodka, triple sec, lime juice, cranberry juice). All in all, there are some 300 drinks on the menu, so you'll have no trouble quenching your thirst.

Ladies also have an advantage for the food, as they can order anything and everything on the menu for free. Men will need to pay for the food, albeit at much lower prices compared to most Japanese restaurants.

We found that the kitchen performs admirably - ingredients taste fresh, while the cooking is capable and confident, yielding tasty flavours and satisfying textures.

If you'd like a light, wholesome dinner to nibble on, the Japanese wafu salad is your best bet (RM6 for men). Alternatively, there are enough Japanese temptations to keep returning over and over for, from the scallop-loving hotate mentai mayo (RM5 for men) to juicy fried-chicken fare of tori karaage (RM4 for men), the sushi lover's choice of a California maki (RM5 for men) to the crunchy burdock root snack of the gobo fries (RM3 for men).

There's something for everyone, from beefy gyuniku tataki (RM7 for men) to casual Italian treats like the classic Margherita pizza (RM5 for men). Fusion fun is also offered to complement a pleasurable evening - try nasi lemak handroll packs a punchy spiciness (RM5 for men) and the fries with robust mentai mayo (RM5 for men). There's even a complimentary cake buffet for ladies between 8pm to 11pm.

All in all, JIS strives to bring joy to extroverts and everyone hoping to get to know more people, promising a one-of-a-kind concept that has earned praise in Japan and remains unique in Malaysia. Many thanks to the team here for having us.

JIS Kuala Lumpur
Unit 3-01, 3rd Floor, Star Boulevard, Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, Kuala Lumpur. Daily, starting 6pm. Tel: 03-2776-7570

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