Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Detour for dinner - Cococabana

One Tuesday evening we headed down to the southeastern tip of Hong Kong Island for an "impromptu date" at the beach-side restaurant Cococabana in the quiet Shek O neighborhood.

We have been to several other dining outlets owned by restauranteur/chef Jean Paul Gauci previously, but never been to this one nor its old location at Deep Water Bay, but I did appreciate his rustic cooking style coupled with simple but carefully chosen ingredients.

Some people love the twists and turns, but I always found driving through the meandering path leading down to Shek O extremely stressful. Nonetheless we arrived earlier than planned. The restaurant is located in a white concrete building on the beach front, with this typical, almost cliche resort-type setting - dim wall lighting, white tablecloth, candle-lights, easy listening music... you name it.

We started with a series of appetizers soon after we were seated at a corner table by the window. We love the salmon carpaccio served with olive and anchovy paste sandwiched between thinly sliced cured salmon and with a generous splash of aromatic olive oil. Most places would prepare the dish with a citrus-y flavor but I actually prefer this version better. The pan-fried scallops were perfectly cooked with the well-seared top and were buttery. In between courses we were also served bread baked in the house - I particularly love the forcaccia with cheese and rosemary, and the butter roll served with a small dish of slow-roasted garlic. 

The John Dory stew in seafood soup was served in individual portion in a ramekin en croute. It's like a miniature version of bouillabaisse but I reckon it's a little too light. Perhaps a little more roux in the soup would have done the trick of lifting the dish up. But the fish was okay - I like its firm texture.

We had a decent-sized steak to share as our main course. We both love the grilled ribeye which came from organic, grass-fed Australian OBE beef and served with a green peppercorn sauce and rosemary garnishes. It's on the chewy side (not those marbled fat type) but I love the taste of grass-fed beef. The sides of thick-cut fries, cherry tomatoes and haricots verts were tasty too - salt and olive oil were all it probably took for the grilled tomatoes and green beans but they were lovely and fit for the bistro setting.

Desserts were okay - nothing wrong with them but rather generic, with lemon meringue tart and molten chocolate cake, both served with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream and strawberry coulis.

Over all food is decent here and I enjoyed getting away from the usual dinner spots and for an occasional change of pace, especially it's hardly 30 minutes away from home. Return journey was another stressful drive back to the city but I would be happy to come back here again some time, maybe next time on a weekend afternoon when the weather gets warmer. Thanks Cococabana for the treat.

When? March 4 2014
Where? Cococabana, Shek O Beach, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Grilled Ribeye with Green Pepercorn Sauce, with Thick Cut Fries and Haricots Verts.

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