Friday, October 21, 2016

First Bite: COCA

A message from P never fails to make me smile like that creepy cat from Alice in Wonderland. It was an invite for COCA, a Thai restaurant under the same group as Mango Tree. I immediately typed "YES!" faster than my next heartbeat.  And after a week of waiting, I finally found myself in front of Mango Tree's baby sister. 

Hello, COCA
I had an impression that this place is a seafood restaurant as its ads before kept on highlighting its humongous crab dish. I'm a fan of crabs but I absolutely hate removing its shell just to get to the delectable white meat. And so, I shunned the idea of dining here… till I got a COCA gift certificate from looloo. And my plan to visit was moved earlier thanks to looloo and COCA’s generous invite. 
I guess all of us were excited to indulge in a Thai feast as everyone was already in SM Aura before 7 pm. I thought I’d be able to get back my early bird title but some were already around as early as 5 pm! 
Upon entering the restaurant, we were greeted by shades of browns and maroons which somehow reminded me of Mango Tree. It still exudes a fancy feel but it was more casual with its brighter lighting. 

C, A and I were the last ones to arrive and appetizers were already on the table. 
We first sampled the Salmon Grapow Cups (PHP180) which confused us if we were indeed munching on salmon. The color and texture were different from the salmon I know. 
The salmon bits of this one were tougher and quite close to ground beef. However, if you try to slowly enjoy the filling, you’d get the salmon flavor. It was just a bit too salty so make sure you eat it with the cup. 
I enjoyed the Roast Duck Salad (PHP380) more than the first appetizer because of its interesting play of flavors and textures. The crunchy skin and cucumber strips went well with the watermelon chunks and duck meat. It had a light taste and was refreshing at the same time! I had to get two to three servings of this one. 
Next served was the Squid with Salted Egg (PHP380) which was my  instant favorite that night. The generous dollop of salted egg yolk on battered squid rings made it a winner! I could definitely taste the salted egg taste and the squid used was fresh and far from being called gummy. 
I also lenjoyed it with the COCA Yang Chow Fried Rice (PHP220, small | PHP320, large) which was perfectly cooked. A commented though that it would have been nicer if the batter was crunchier to create a nicer contrast with the grainy and mushy salted egg
Next served was the Red Fire Platter (PHP1,400++) where we chose a combination of chicken soup and tom yum soup as our broths. I’m not exactly sure if you could do this on a normal day as Betsy was semi expecting us to decide in one. But our beautiful eyes worked and she let us try both broths. 
The chicken soup broth was a bit on the bland side but I loved it! It reminded me of the broth soup served in Chinese restaurants that served as great palate cleanser given the rich flavors of the dishes served.
But I loved the tom yum soup more than the chicken soup! Yes, I enjoyed a bowl of hot and sour soup! Okay, it wasn’t really that hot. I couldn’t even put it under level two in terms of spiciness. I also bet that R wouldn’t even notice the hotness of this one. It was perfect though for people who have low spice tolerance. 

Just when I could feel my tummy screaming for me to unbutton my pants, the mouthwatering Pacific Sunset (PHP1,950) was served.

It was a gigantic plate of king crab, tiger prawnspork sausages, squid rings and corn swimming in spiced sauce. An order also comes with a basket of bread. I was told that this dish was a lot spicier than tom yum so I nibbled with caution. 

It was indeed spicier than tom yum but it wasn’t too spicy to make me cry and gasp for water. The sauce was very thick and went very well with the seafood. 
The prawns were delightfully fresh! It had a nice slight sweet taste and lovely snap per bite. The squid rings were just as fresh as the ones from the salted egg dish. The crab meat was great too though I would have appreciated if they remove the meat for us. (I’m not spoiled. I’m just lazy.) I wasn’t able to get some pork sausage or corn so I couldn’t really comment on those. 

And just when we were about to let out a big burp, Betsy asked us if we want dessert. We quickly said yes and soon, two plates of Galorgee (PHP250, small | PHP450, large) were served.
Betsy introduced the dessert as fried palitaw and true enough, it did taste like palitaw. It had sticky rice inside while the outside was fried and topped with rice and pinipig. It was quite good though I still like the real palitaw more than this one. I was a bit bothered with the oiliness of this dish. 

Overall, it was a fun night over great food and company. Service was top notch and something I’d expect from Mango Tree’s sister. Thanks again looloo and COCA! 

COCA is located at 5th Floor, Sky Park, SM Aura Premier, McKinley Parkway, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. 

Coca Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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