There is definitely nostalgia in the air as we enter the dimly-lit yet vibrantly done-up KOKO, the latest from Tham brothers’ gourmet stable. The yellow high-back chairs instantly take you back in time to Henry Tham, the other iconic Colaba-based bar,by the same family, celebrated for its world music nights and live percussionist performances.
And then there is some excitement that’s palpable too. The kind that comes with all things new. Like the sweet smell of fresh roses, the unturned pages of a new novel or freshly fried bacon on a lazy Sunday morning. For now, I put it down to the buzz created from being fully packed on a Tuesday evening at 8 pm, a rare feat in the city that sees a new restaurant opening every couple of days.
The location helps. Situated midtown at Kamala Mills, this posh Asian gastropub offers the delicate flavours of the East (read mainly Cantonese and some sushi), served with the choicest of freshly sourced ingredients and their detailed preparations.
We start with the cocktails. Before chugging down the macha tea infused whisky sours or elegantly sipping the chilled but fiery vodka version of the Tom Yum Soup, be aware that all these are the creations of star mixologist Dimitri Lezinska.
We didn’t know it then but these, and the many more we end up ordering in the next few hours, turned out to be the star attraction of the evening.
Meanwhile, the appetisers are served. The Hamachi Carpaccio with its beautifully sliced slivers of yellow tail served with jalapeno, pickled seaweed and fungi, is asdelicious and succulent as its looks. The Prawn and Chives dumplings are steamed to perfection. The Edamame Truffle Money Bags are just what you need in these cashless times. Amply stuffed they make for a delish mouthful when generously doused in the sweetish chilli sauce that they are served with. While the Soft Shell Crab Maki will amaze you for its craftsmanship, its crunchy flavour will keep you coming back for more.
You might during the course of your evening spot Dimitri Lezinska hovering around the restaurant. And if you are really lucky, he might offer you drinks that aren’t on the menu, yet. Like the Jamun Club, which as the name suggests uses jamun syrup that has been painstakingly frozen by the kilos during the monsoon months.
In the absence of pork ribs that particular night we reluctantly order the Crispy Pork Belly. Slow roasted with its fat broken down to perfection, it is served with burnt chilli sauce. The aromatic Sautéed Lamb with Ginger, Scallion and Rice Wine makes for a cosy comfort meal but is avoidable considering there are many other more exotic choices in the menu. Like sautéed morning glory, and the flavorsome Malaysian Red Curry with Chicken.
After this lavish Oriental treat, the thought of ordering a dessert that has been brought from a famous patisserie in the city is non-negotiable. So I skip the dessert, but my last heady tipple of the evening, a classic daiquiri, makes for a more than perfect nightcap to complete my decadent evening.
KOKO, Ground floor, Trade World, Kamala Mills, Lower Parel.
Contact: 61053999. Approximately Rs 4,500 for a meal for two with one drink each.
Updated Date: Dec 10, 2016 10:39:30 IST