Cocochan Restaurant - March 2012

Thomas Haydn Dee

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'...For a restaurant that specialises in versatility, Cocochan knows exactly what it wants to be. Slick gold, chrome and purple interiors offset dishes that represent a master class in Pan Asian cuisine. Overlooking Selfridges and battling with eateries of every persuasion this one manages to stand out with apparant ease'

Since bursting onto the scene last February Cocochan, the Pan Asian restaurant tucked away behind Selfridges has certainly not been shy. Quickly picking up the AA Rosette for culinary excellence as well as winning Best Pan Asian Eatery Award at The Asian Curry Awards in 2011. And deservedly so.

The first thing of note is that the restaurant knows what it wants to be. Cocochan might very easily have suffered from an identity crisis serving a far-ranging Pan Asian menu and certainly, other restaurants have found this to be a challenge too far. Not the case here though as our exuberantly friendly hostess Yoshiko explained. "We have Japanese chefs making the sushi, Chinese making noodle dishes and other specialities including Thai and Vietnamese are all authentic." The food doesn't clash because items aren't competing with each other... the best way to think of this place is an unbridled gap year throughout Asia sampling the best regional dishes without the hassle of travel!

The decor is also well appointed and reflective of the versatility of the menu. The rich colour scheme includes Black, monochrome, gold and purple. Separate areas called White Dokoro and Gold Dokoro are the main options with a private dining area at the back. Cocochan also has a subterranean lounge bar and function space with groovy dimly lit alcoves and a hefty sofa which should delight the west-end party people.

To start off with we were brought a large (not an understatement) selection of items including steamed edamame, tiger prawn tempura with spicy mayo, california ebi ura maki sushi and crispy aromatic duck rolls. The tempura was exceptional and a good portion of time was spent marvelling over the light, crispy nature of the batter whilst the prawns themselves were both large and discernibly fresh.

The sushi was masterful in it's presentation and preparation. Fluffy and delicate rice rolled in flying fish roe was especially good and the duck rolls were some of the best to be found in London.

Sadly on this occasion we didn't get to try the dim sum which I had been looking forward to though with so much choice of starters and everything of equal appeal, we wouldn't have made it to the main course had we lingered further.

I'm usually disappointed and/or suspicious of wines in Asian restaurants as the lists tend to be predictable and lower grade than traditional restaurants. Here however great care seems to have been placed into the selection and the glasses of Sauvignon Riesling "The Opportunist" we had were a perfect food pairing.

For mains, we shared dishes of Oven Baked Miso Black Cod and Thai roasted Corn Fed Chicken with sweet chilli lime salad and a portion of jasmine rice. The cod was exceptional (and has also been blogged/ tweeted/ reviewed and talked about by many diners before me). Marinated for 48 hours in miso and then delicately baked at low temperature the soft white flakes of flesh crumble at the nearest whimper of a chopstick. This item is undeniably the menus star dish.

The chicken was excellent and we had retained some of the spicy mayo from the tempura starter which was also a great blend of texture and flavour with this dish. On the bone and portioned, it is a great sharing plate. With the mains we had a Pinot Grigio Pardo Priara at the suggestion of the waiter which we were less enthusiastic about though purely in comparison with the earlier glasses.

Its worth noting here the rapidity with which courses are served up. Cococan is very obviously busy and we saw many couples and groups come and go within and hour and a half. To be candid, some will love the speed and some will not and even our party of two was divided on this point. For lunches, after work bites and group dinners this is a fun vibrant and fast paced Asian eatery. It's not the place for a drawn out evenings or proposing between courses.

Desert was interesting. We asked to be surprised and so a sharing plate of Mochi Mochi was sent over. Green tea flavoured ice cream rolled in rice cake it was superbly refreshing and the tea flavour infused the ice cream enough to leave a lasting impression.

A quick espresso and a warm sake and we were ready to hit the street again.

It was nice to see that as we left a queue had started to form waiting to come in. In juxtaposition, Ping Pong which is directly opposite, seemed entirely vacant.I would heartily recommend Cocochan and will be searching for an excuse to visit again with friends though to be perfectly honest, an excuse isn't need... Cocochan is perfectly good at drawing you in all by itself.

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Liked:

Location, Service, Food, Wine, Decor, Portion Size, Sharing Plates, Tempura, Sous Vide.

Not sure about:

High Speed Service

Average Cost of a meal for two with drinks: 60 - 90

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