Monday, February 21, 2011

Asian Fusion at Coco Asian Kitchen

 (UPDATE as of July 2011: This restaurant has closed down and has been replaced by another one)

Thanks to Chris, The Foodie Club had a chance to sample the menu of Coco Asian Kitchen. I thought the restaurant was a new one at Greenhills Promenade.

When my daughter and I got there, we realized that during the last 1 or 2 movies that we caught at Promenade, the kids and I did eat at the Promenade food court and already chanced upon Coco Asian Kitchen. But we never got a chance to sample the menu offerings as we usually got to Promenade just a few minutes before show time and usually went for the stalls that offered fastfood items.

The nice thing that I noticed about Coco Asian Kitchen was its very colorful facade. It was the most eye-catching of all the other restaurants in the Promenade lobby. Secondly, I personally love Asian fusion food because my taste buds can try the spices and cooking styles from different countries without having to go to different specialty restaurants featuring just one country's cuisine. There's one other Asian fusion resto at the Promenade but they cater more to diners who are ready for a sit-down dinner. Coco Asian is able to serve up fusion food more quickly -- great if you're in a hurry and not ready for a sit-down meal.

I did not get to try all the food served that night but let me give you some idea of their offerings.

First up is my favorite of the night - Ube Ubod (P120, solo). Truth be told, I had already seen Ube Ubod featured on the resto's wall but not being adventurous, I found it strange at first to see what looked like purple dumplings. The purple wrapper apparently was made of ube (yam) and tied with a string. I removed the string to expose the lumpia ubod inside. I dribbled (nah, I soaked) the lumpia in yummy peanut sauce. I'm glad that this was served up because it tasted just like Filipino lumpia ubod, a favorite of mine since ubod is the main ingredient of the Ilonggo (my province) style of lumpia. The peanut sauce, to me, clinched it. Now I know what I will be ordering often when I'm at Promenade.

Ube Ubod
My second favorite of the night is Dory ala Coco (P170, solo; P290, sharing). I'm a lover of dory fillet so it was a natural for me to go for this dish. It was breaded and deep-fried, then topped with sweet coconut-based sauce. I found the dory taste just right and soft inside despite it being breaded and fried. This was a new way of cooking dory because usually breaded items are dry, unlike this one which comes with a sauce. Crispy fried noodles came with this dish and I believe is best eaten when you crush the noodles into smaller bits, scoop up the coconut sauce and drizzle it over the noodles for flavoring. In my case though, I chose to take the dory with the rice served up.

Dory ala Coco

Oh, since I already mentioned eating rice with the dory, let me just insert it here before I go on to the other dishes. We got to try a new dish that was not yet on the menu -- Seafood Fried Rice. Strips of fish and shrimps and mussels were mixed in with the fried rice which was cooked just right, not too greasy. Sliced green onions as well as lemon slices completed the dish. Next time, I'll squeeze a bit of that lemon on the rice to see how it affects its overall flavor.

The third dish I tried was the Crispy Tilapia Fillet (P190, solo). The crispy tilapia sat on a bed of crispy noodles and came with a soy sauce dip with red hot peppers in it. This looked to me more as an appetizer or pulutan so I was just surprised that other dishes came ahead of this one. Also, while the noodles made the presentation of the tilapia look better, I felt that most diners would just gobble up the tilapia with the soy sauce and leave the noodles untouched. Maybe Coco Asian can cook up some kind of yummy sauce that can be taken with the noodles so nothing goes to waste.

Crispy Tilapia Fillet
The Cha Gio (P90), their version of Vietnamese spring rolls (someone got to one of the rolls before I got to take a pic), came with fried noodles, a couple of fried onion rings and other veggies, together with a vinegar-spiced dip. This was not bad. In fact, I like rolls dipped in vinegar. 

Cha Gio
By this time, I was already full so I was unable to try the next two dishes.

The Coco Express (P130, solo; P190, sharing) is Coco Asian's version of Bicol Express. My palate can't handle that kind of spice so I opted out of trying it. Maybe I'll venture some other time.

Coco Express
The last dish brought out was the Sweet Potato Prawns (P190, solo; P360 sharing). Too bad, I wanted so much to taste this because unlike the usual breaded prawns, those spiky things you see are actually crisp potato strings. Anyway, that's a good excuse to go back to Coco Asian and order this one.

Sweet Potato Prawns
Our sumptuous dinner was capped with a selection from Bubble Tea Boy which was in the same area as Coco Asian Kitchen. The powders they use to make these milk teas come from Japan, which is why the names of most of their drinks are in Japanese. As a health conscious person, I opted for Green Tea Latte (I think it costs about P80 for a large cup) as my first Bubble Tea choice and I actually loved it because the green tea flavor came out very well. Next time though, I will try it without the pearls. I like my milk teas smooth so I need not chew.

Green Tea Latte
We were served other dishes as well but it was on the other side of our VERRRRYYY long table. These were Tom Yum Soup (P90) and Goat Kaldereta (P260).

On the whole, I was happy to find that Coco Asian Kitchen was a place where I could have good Asian fusion food without having to wait very long. Having a foretaste of all these dishes have given me a list of "must tries" for another time. And what made our evening even better was the company of The Club.

The Club (photo courtesy of Foodie Manila)

You can find Coco Asian Kitchen at the Ground Floor of the Promenade, Greenhills Shopping Center, San Juan City.

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