That Koko was going to be wildly popular, was a foregone conclusion long before the first name was put on the wait list at this new Asian gastropub from the legendary Tham brothers.
Their’s is the family behind other familiar Bombay hotspots, from yesteryear’s favourite watering hole, Henry Tham, to the Good Wife and Trilogy… And they’ve brought on -board another formidable force, UK-based celebrity mixologist – Dimitri Lezinska (of the TV show Cocktail Kings on the Discovery Channel), to curate the thrilling list of cocktails at this latest venture.
It’s a cavernous yet well-apportioned space, both minimalist and kitsch at the same time, with a colourful patchwork of tiles against one of the side walls. A 100-foot island bar stands imposingly at the centre, surrounded by high-topped tables, booths and a separate lounge area, which has all the potential of boisterous weekend nights…
The mood-alteringly upbeat yet laid-back vibe suited us just as well on a busy Wednesday evening, with plenty of #MidweekMotivation materialising as soon as we’d settled in, having said our hellos to familiar faces dining on nearby tables…
Under the creative direction of Lezinska, the heady cocktails are a major draw at Koko, each imbibing an offbeat Asian twist, thanks to the addition of ingredients ranging from cava tea to soya sauce.
Jasmine syrup added a luscious touch to my vodka-based Twisted Mule, while my friend took a walk on the spicier side with a Tom Yum Cup – Koko’s take on a classic Bloody Mary, served in a soup bowl. The grassy concoction involved hints of lemongrass and other ingredients typical of a tom yum soup, delivering a warm and tingly feeling, impressive of a chilled cocktail!
As for our eats – we chose a bit of everything from the menu, which combines “cold Japanese”, Cantonese and even Thai favourites… There were the occasional misses (such as with the portobello mushrooms, which failed to pack that promised punch), but on the whole it was satisfyingly-good food.
Key (veggie) highlights included the scrumptiously-crunchy tempura batter strewn across the veggie Koko special (an inside-outside sushi roll), and the sweet peas, water chestnut and truffle dumplings – the razor-sharp hint of truffle oil cut through the soft and sticky flavours of the green pea paste, with much panache here!
I’ve always enjoyed a crisp lettuce wrap, and particularly loved the edamame and pine-nut filling offered as part of this dish at Koko. The smörgåsbord of chilli sauces served at the start of our meal really came in handy here, as we were able to season and spice each wrap as per our varying tastes (as someone of Indian origin, I have an astonishingly low threshold for spicy food).
The intricately-textured al-dente style of edamame and black rice (with burnt garlic) also emerged a star attraction… It had a really firm bite to it, effortlessly soaking up the fiery Thai red curry piled on top! While a silky-smooth tofu served in a well-balanced beancurd sauce, made for a fulfilling add-on too.
In the interest of sharing a full picture of this new restaurant, dessert(s) had to be tried of course.
Sadly, the dark chocolate soufflé tart was more of a (slightly stodgy) pudding, less an endearingly soft and melt-in-your-mouth soufflé…
… While the hazelnut praline crunch cake was almost too-densely layered, making it an overwhelmingly rich proposition after a heavy meal.
But, word on the street is that the salted caramel tart is simply sublime.
I’ll definitely be trying it on my next visit, as I don’t doubt that I’ll be back at Koko soon for a tipple at the very least, if not the full works… As this trendy new spot is definitely the place to be, for a fabulously fun night out on the town!
Koko, C 2, Trade World, Kamala Mills, Near Radio Mirchi Office, SB Road,Lower Parel, Mumbai
I was a guest of Koko. As always, all opinions are mine and mine alone.