The DiscoverKL team was recently invited to witness the launch of COCA Restaurant in Bangsar, a family owned Thai-Chinese fusion concept restaurant in Bangsar Shopping Center.

The evening was hosted by the ever-modest Chef Pitaya Phanphensophon who – through his lack of professional culinary training – prefers to be known as “a damn good cook” rather than a “chef”, and he certainly lives up to his title.

A warm welcome by the staff allowed me to instantly settle in to the tastefully designed interior, with a floor to ceiling window offering you a view of the trendy Bangsar area. The venue is subtly partitioned into different dining areas, including a private booth for special occasions. Along with the luxury chairs and classy design, each table features induction cookers to accommodate the signature hotpot dishes. I was kindly offered a choice of wines, juices and tea. Naturally, I opted for a Chardonnay, which ended up being a great pairing for my first course.

After hearing the heartfelt story of their early years, new owners Jannio Shun and Elizabeth Thea Lee invited Chef (although he would insist on ‘Cook’) Pitaya to begin his demonstration.

We started with the Yum Quinoa with Prawn & Scallop (Yum Talay Quinoa), which was a perfect aperitif; zingy lime working with modestly-spiced quinoa to compliment the umami flavours from the gently cooked prawn and scallop. These soft, light flavours were a breath of fresh air after a long day in Malaysian heat.

To follow, we had the Deconstructed Ox Tongue rested on a bed of butter beans with a wanton base. The ox’s 180-day aged flavours really shone through, with the Shu Hao reduction doing all the legwork in keeping the predominantly savoury dish balanced, hinting at dark fruit notes and working with the buttery sweetness of the beans. It was at this point that I ordered a glass of Merlot, which helped couple the flavours together even more with its light finish.

Now for the intriguing Black Jasmine Rice. Chef Pitaya joyfully explained to us the health benefits of his organic ingredients, highlighting the rarity of this delicate rice and his high-school obsession with cooking the foods from his hometown; Surawong, Thailand.

As we were tucking in to the crispy skinned rice with the extremely spicy and slightly sour chilli sauce, I noticed that the chicken had a tougher texture than you would normally expect, Chef Pitaya explained that this was due to the age of the chickens, we were eating the organically farmed older chickens, the way his family has been doing for sixty-one years, instead of the mass-produced younger chicken you’d find elsewhere. Chef Pittaya rightfully summarised by challenging fast food outlets with a simple statement:

“Chicken doesn’t come in boneless, it only comes in chicken! It has to run around all day, it couldn’t do that if it didn’t have bones”.

If you haven’t already guessed, the honest and humble relationship with tradition is fundamental in the concept of COCA’s food.

Now for the highly anticipated favourite – Hotpot. We were taken aback by the care and attention in the preparation of the hot-pot dishes. The suki sauce was a flavourful accompaniment to the crab meat dumplings and fresh vegetables, this truly was a well crafted hot-pot.

Lastly, although we thought we couldn’t possibly eat more, we were served a huge Thai twist on ais kacang with marshmallows alongside cakoi with condensed milk for dipping. I felt that although these desserts are tried and tested favourites, they seemed fairly unflattering and out-of-place in this delicately contrived menu.

Nevertheless, the desserts were gone in seconds and we were offered champagne to wrap up a truly fantastic evening of good, healthy, intelligently crafted food.

COCA Restaurant

Hours: 11am-3pm, 6pm-11pm, daily

Address: TK1, Level 3, Bangsar Shopping Centre, Kuala Lumpur

Website: COCA Restaurant 

Tel: 03-20113575

Also Read
This Italian Restaurant In PJ Is One That You’d Want To Spread The Word About—Here’s Why

While the dishes at a'Roma dinings are slightly pricy, I believe the quality of the pasta, risotto, and charcuterie (amongst other dishes) were worth it.

East Meets West: ‘Huat’ Is myBurgerLab’s CNY Burger & Yee Sang Pizza All About?

myBurgerLab and myPizzaLab have released limited edition CNY menu items. Here's how their Yee Sang pizza and Fu Chok burger fared our taste test.

We Were Challenged To Check Off Our Holiday Shopping At The Duty-Free Zone

KLIA and klia2 airports are home to a wide variety of duty-free shopping ranging from luxury goods, kids toys, makeup and more.

This Buffet Has 12 Cuts Of Meat & 10 Soups, But It’s Really All About The Unlimited Wagyu

Easily over-indulge yourself with a combination of shabu shabu offerings with unlimited A5 Wagyu Beef, 10 types of soups, desserts, and more.

#SaveOrSplurge: A RM150 Cinema Experience At GSC’s Luxury Aurum Theatre In The Gardens Mall

Our thoughts and review after watching a movie in GSC's new luxury cinema experience in Aurum Theatre located in The Gardens Mall, Mid Valley City.

There’s An Event To Educate M’sians About #MeToo On Nov 30, Here’s How To Get Involved

On November 30th, there will be a half-day educational event held in Bangsar about the #MeToo movement and sexual harassment.

Tealive’s New Drinks Are A Blast From The Past And A Pop In Our Mouths

Tealive's Pop Pop Pearl drinks come in two flavours of mango and strawberry. The pearls will pop in your mouth and transport you back into the past.

10,000 Users Are Already Saving Over RM2,000 A Year For Food On This App—But Wait, There’s More

The ENTERTAINER app will help you save money on food, activities, attractions and even hotel stays, you can even use the deals multiple times a month.