Thursday, October 17, 2013

COCA is for Shabu-shabu and Exquisite Cantonese Fare

Prawns with Salted Egg
Originally from Thailand, COCA is a Cantonese restaurant that recently opened its doors in the Philippines at SM Aura.

Sauteed Beef Fillet with Ginger and Chinese Spring Onions
Again I found myself having dinner here at the behest of Tita G. Another good friend of mine, Tita J, agreed to join us for dinner in COCA on the expectation that she will have her quarterly-to-monthly crabfest here. I, on the other hand, went mostly for the shabu-shabu. 

The interiors of the restaurant reflects fine dining, where, although I don't think they would actually kick out a patron for not complying with a dresscode (Tita J came in her Zumba outfit after all), you'd feel inspired to dress up in your snazzy clothes just to match your surroundings.

Tita J did not get her crab sadly, as they ran out of stock when she arrived. (Our server got an earful from Tita J for this snafu.) We did however, get our shabu-shabu. And it was a shabu-shabu platter that was quite unlike the ones I am used to.

Red Fire Platter
Assorted Meat, Vegetables, and Glass Noodles

We chose the Red Fire Platter. This came with an 3 kinds of meat, but we asked for only beef and chicken, trading the pork for more chicken. Another thing that we had changed was the glass noodles. I am never fond of the stuff in my shabu-shabu, always trading it in for good old egg noodles. COCA's egg noodles though are not the usual white, thick, soba-like noodles. They were more like the the yellow, thin-strand, Hongkong-style noodles. I am not complaining though, I find the change quite refreshing actually. The beancurd skin, was also unusual, but it tasted so good with the shabu-shabu ensemble that I wondered if I could get that as an add on from other shabu-shabu restaurants. 

The vegetables were crisp, fresh and different from what I get in my usual shabu-shabu haunts, with what looks to be bokchoy instead of regular pechay and even kangkong. The best part for me was that it had so many different mushrooms, from shiitake to enoki. I never had this much mushrooms in a shabu-shabu plate. 

The COCA shabu-shabu is served with two kinds of soups-- one the regular broth, the other spicy. There is also a spicy-savory dipping sauce, which I did not feel the need for as the meats tasted flavorful even without it. Perhaps the meats were seasoned or marinated to some degree. 

As for Tita J, instead of a crabfest, she had a COCA-fest, sharing in the restaurant's best sellers, from the COCA Yang Chow Fried Rice (Small, Php200; Large Php300) and Crispy Roasted Pork Belly ((Php320) to the heart-stoppingly decadent Prawns with Salted Egg.

COCA-SM Aura is located at 5/F Sky Park, SM Aura Premier, McKinley Parkway, McKinley Hill, Taguig

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