Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Coca Restaurant: A Unique Blend of Thai and Chinese Flavors

Thai cuisine has always been known for its blend of distinct flavors, combining sweet and sour, salty and spicy in many classic Thai dishes. And now you can experience a unique fusion of flavors with Coca Restaurant's signature Thai-Chinese cuisine. New, refreshing yet comfortingly familiar, Coca's signature dishes promises bold flavors with the freshest ingredients for a unique dining experience. 

The story of Coca begins way back in 1957 when Mr. Srichai Phanphensophon and his wife opened a 20-seater Cantonese restaurant in Bangkok. The restaurant then quickly gained a following for its unique suki style cooking. Fifty-six years later, Coca has expanded not only in Thailand but in the southeast Asian region as well, with branches in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and China. And Coca's distinct style of Thai-Chinese cuisine is now in Manila at the metro's latest lifestyle hotspot, The SM Aura Premier in Taguig City. Coca partners with Mother Spice Corporation, the same company behind Mango Tree at Bonifacio High Street, to bring Coca's signature hotpot and renowned suki sauce in an exciting blend of Thai-Chinese flavors to The SM Aura Premier.

Start your meal with something different, Coca Restaurant's signature Chili Mojito (P 250), your favorite mojito levelled up with chili. Smooth, sweet, minty and refreshing, with a little heat from the chili for that bite at the back of your mouth.  So many flavors in one glass. Another round? Definitely.

Coca Yang Chow Fried Rice (P 300 Large), a popular Chinese staple jacked up with Thai spices and flavors that pairs well with Coca's main dishes.

Prawns with Garlic and Chili (P 550), fresh, plump and juicy prawns with loads of garlic, green onions and chili. The combination of the prawn's delicate sweetness is complemented by the rich blend of spices, with each bite bursting with flavor. This one's a winner, and a personal favorite.

Live Steamed Garoupa with Soy Sauce (P 1,200), subtle and sweet flavors with a layer of light soy sauce for balance. Delicate, pure, and clean flavors, and another dish where freshness delivers all the flavors.

Braised Tofu with Taiwan Bokchoy in a Clay Pot (P 400), a lightly sweet and savory vegetarian dish with firm tofu, mushrooms and bokchoy. The tofu and vegetables provide contrasting flavors and textures, and the large mushrooms round out the flavors.

Crispy Roasted Pork Belly (P 300), served with a side of mustard. Deliciously crisp on the outside, with just a thin layer of fat over tender, juicy pork. Definitely one of the best I've tried, and another must try at Coca. Great as is, even better with Coca's Yang Chow Fried Rice.

Steamed US Prime Striploin in Soy Sauce and Ginger (P 650), simple, subtle and fresh flavors with thin strips of premium beef with a light soy and ginger sauce. The premium beef is unbelievably soft and tender that almost melt-in-your-mouth, with a buttery flavor enhanced by the sharpness of the soy and ginger sauce. The thinly sliced julienned vegetables add another layer of texture to complete the dish.

And after the first round of dishes, time to go for another Chili Mojito.

Then, Coca's signature hotpot arrived, the Emperor's Platter with Ojiya (P 2,750), with assorted meat, seafood, vegetables and glass noodles, In line with Coca's philosophy on premium and fresh ingredients, this dish showcases the restaurant's farm to restaurant concept. The freshest vegetables, live seafood harvested from tanks just minutes before, for the best possible flavors.

The hotpot is then fired up. Diners have two choices for the broth, a richly flavored and spicy tom yang broth and a milder chicken stock. Or you can have both. Coca's servers then place the seafood and vegetables in the simmering broth, and almost immediately, the fragrant aroma from the hotpot fills the air as we wait with anticipation...

Then, individual bowls were served, and I start with the tom yang broth. The delicate and subtle sweetness of the assorted seafood plays well with the richly spiced tom yang broth. Bold, sharp flavors in a bowl. Perfect.

As the remaining seafood and vegetables were removed from the hot pot, the server then prepares the Ojiya. With the broth infused with the different flavors of the fresh seafood and vegetables, the server then adds rice to the broth.

And after a few minutes, the Ojiya is served. Richly flavored rice, almost like a congee or porridge, with all the flavors of the seafood and vegetables. At Coca, you not only get a hot pot dish, but a congee as well with the same broth. Add some of the seafood and vegetables from the hot pot for even more flavors on your Ojiya. Pretty cool.

But save room for dessert. Coca's Galorgee (P 400 Large), crisp and chewy glutinous rice topped with peanuts, sesame seeds and sugar. Similar to the local palitaw, but deep-fried. Great with a cup of tea.

Coca also offers other desserts, including this Salted Caramel Cheesecake (P 250). Fresh and premium ingredients for bold and rich flavors. And true to its name, derived from the Mandarin word for "appetizing", Coca Restaurant scores high on flavors.

Special thanks to Karen Tanchanco-Caballero, Head, Marketing & PR, Mother Spice Food Corporation; and Kathy Santiago, Assitant Operations Manager, Mango Tree Bistro, for the awesome dinner.

Coca Restaurant is located at Sky Oark, 5th Floor, SM Aura Premier, Taguig City or call 218-1110 for inquiries and reservations. 

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