38-40, James Street, London W1U 1EU www.cocochan.co.uk
In an area not exactly replete with good eating, Pan Asian Cocochan stands out.
Just a few meters from Bond Street station, Cocochan’s pan Asian fusion menu Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Chinese, Thai, Korean and Japanese Ã¢â‚¬â€œ is always worth sampling (the wonderful duck and watermelon salad with cashews is usually my go-to choice).
But hey, it’s Christmas so there’s a new festive menu out available to preorder, including New Year’s Eve, where the menu will include a glass of Champagne.
First, though, the interior and vibe deserves a mention. Blond wooden walls, latticework screens creating intimate areas decorated in gold, white or black with subtle pink lighting, a cocktail bar for late-night liaisons and chill music all give Cocochan an immediate air of expensive luxury.
It’s no surprise that it’s popular with local international residents. Most of the staff seem to be Italian, so there’s plenty of charm on offer with efficient and friendly service.
Despite the Christmas menu being relatively short, it was still difficult to decide what to order. The four-course menu kicks off with that mainstay of the tapas bar, Padron peppers, before offering a selection of first-course dishes.
Lobster tail sushi roll, fresh truffle, yuzu, pickled mango and black rice was our choice (other options include Wagyu beef taco on a bed of rice cracker with oscietra caviar, foie gras and nori, or wild forest mushroom ceviche with tiger milk and marsh samphire.
The lobster was good, but the truffle so meagre as to be undetectable, with the rolls coated in a fairly gloopy mayonnaise Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a bit of crispness would have been good to complement the softness of the dish.
The next course was much better and a highlight for both me and my dining companion. Popped corn monkfish cheeks with aji Amarillo dip and ash salt offered a great contrast of textures, with the fish beautifully cooked and moist.
The accompanying sauce Ã¢â‚¬â€œ an emulsion of mayonnaise, mango and passionfruit was sharp and fruity. Lamb belly chicharron and aubergine and tofu salad were the other options.
On to the main course, which was a touch disappointing. Aged rib eye beef (8oz), served with Chinese mystery sauce, garlic, lotus crisps and Padron peppers was our preference over whole grilled lobster or Thai red mock curry.
Apart from the fact that lotus crisps and padron peppers weren’t apparent (instead, the meat was adorned with chopped spring onion and pea shoots) the beef was served well done. Apparently, many of Cocochan’s Middle Eastern customers prefer their beef well cooked, but diners should be asked as we would both have preferred medium-rare.
The dessert was truly wonderful, however. Crumble with soft Italian meringue, coconut ice cream and coriander oil was a triumph of textures, with perfect ice cream atop crumbs flavoured with a little salt. The coriander oil was an unusual choice, subtly executed.
All in all, it was an adventurous menu with plenty of good choices to be hadÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ ideal if you’re trying to escape the turkey marathon over the coming weeks.
The Christmas menu can be pre-ordered for £50 per head; on New Year’s Eve, the same menu will be on offer at £65, to include a glass of Champagne per person.
Visit cocochan.co.uk for further details.