Almost hidden behind the hustle and bustle of Oxford is the picturesque St Christopher’s place home to independent shops and many restaurants, one of which Cocochan is a HALAL Pan Asian restaurant. The fact is Cocochan serves Halal Dim sum is the main reason why I wanted to dine here.
I booked a table for 4 people on a Thursday evening. Upon arrival I was shown to my table, a very small cramped table next to an busy area that the serving staff would be using during the evening, I requested a change of table but was told no. So lets talk about the layout and décor of the restaurant. The layout and positioning of the tables and seats where clearly designed by an individual without any spatial awareness. It was really awkward and cramped if you needed to leave to use the restroom. Anyone with a large frame would struggle to move between the tightly places tables and chairs. The interior design of the restaurant was also uninspiring and dull.
There’s a unwritten rule of a guide to a restaurant, you have a look at the menu, expensive food, like £20 for a main you would expect, good service, good food and a nice backdrop. By this I mean threes a direct correlation between price, service and overall atmosphere.
Okay, lets get on to food.
For drinks, 3 of us ordered a virgin mojito. It looks nice but on the day all 3 of us agreed it wasn’t great. There was almost a zero trace of lime and mint, in fact they should just rename it a homemade lemonade because that’s what it tasted like.
For food, we decided to order from the Dim Sum and small eats menu. We ordered a nice range of food. Beef Tataki, Duck Rolls, Prawn Rolls, Chicken Croquettes, Sashimi Seabass, Xo Prawns and Seabass Dumplings.
The Beef Tataki is the stand out dish, top presentation and really tender meat, full of flavour and taste. This is the main reason why I came, I saw a picture of this dish on a independent food blog and was like, yes please and I wasn’t disappointed. A new experience for me was the Seabass Sasimi, raw pieces of seabass served on well presented bed of ice with ginger and wassbi. This really had a massive kick and I liked my small sample that I ate. As for the other items, they really didn’t leave an impression on me. The prawn rolls and dim dum lacked any really imagination and was very unmemorable.
At this point in the meal, I was still hungry and wanted to something more and decided to go for a main, the Bulgogi. This was a mistake, for £20 what I got was just a plate of sliced beef on a bed of mushrooms with a wasabi spinach sauce. The quality of meat was good, it was cooked well, but just lacked any real depth in flavour. If you have left a restaurant after spending over £40 on food on yourself and you still fell hungry then something’s wrong. This main course is not the best value for money. I asked for something filling. It did about the same job of a starter.
For desert 2 of my friends left, so myself and my last remaining party member decided to order the Chocolate Fondant with Ice Cream. This was pretty good, but the middle wasn’t warmed enough which meant that the inner core wasn’t melted and still soft. The Chocolate was rich in flavour and sharing with 2 was perfect.
Now, I have to mention the service. In retrospect I should of opted to wave the service charge as I far from impression with the inattentiveness of the waiting staff. We didn’t start the evening well with the poor table. However during the evening we were constantly looking to get the attention of staff, I can’t recall if the waitress did the customary checking in on a table after 10 mins of serving food. I really expected more.
In conclusion, if you want dim sum, I’d stick with Ping Pong, which happens to be opposite. The main courses are overprices and based on the Bulogogi not good value for money. However, the Beef Tataki really saves this review, it’s the standout dish. Would I go again? Maybe, just for a few items of Dim Sum and that Beef Tataki. The Bill came to £100 for 4 people, with only one starter ordered. Remove the Halal factor and I wouldn’t even consider this place. Personality when it comes to Pan Asian food and especially Dim Sum I find that Seafood always tastes better. I’ve pretty much only ate at Ping Pong, but if i were to spend £20 and Ping Pong i’d be stuffed. I left Cocochan with a real feel of unfillment and slight disappointment.