Barely 12 weeks old and this little tapas-style French Vietnamese bombshell is already well on it's way to leaving it's mark on the Richmond food scene - and my, what a lasting impression is has left on us.
Another week has come and gone and once again, JoJo and LiLi are choosing to try and end it on a high note with dinner together - this time at Cōchin. It had been a particularly trying week for both and we were really looking forward to the the exotic, flavour-promising offerings on the menu. When it was finally time to leave work, JoJo and LiLi were out of there and on a tram to Richmond by the minute.
LiLi had stumbled across this relatively new restaurant during her research and was surprised to see barely any reviews for such a promising establishment. The prospect of French Vietnamese cuisine enticed her and she couldn't wait to share the find with JoJo.
The need to try a different style of cuisine proved too strong, and what better way to end a Friday than at a place that's as new to the food scene as we are!
Whilst waiting on Grumpy Mate Rich, the girls were going to make the executive decision to choose the dinner options. With a friendly waitress assisting, the choices naturally flowed as fast as the wine did through our gullets!
For ease of navigation, the menu is split into Small and Medium Shares, Large Shares, Sides, Desserts and Digestifs and, if you ask how big the portions are for each dish, you'll be able to plan your evening and leave Cōchin rather comfortably.
We were asked how hungry we were (to which we chanted, "quite") and the waitress helpfully suggested that if we were as hungry as we proclaimed to be (and we really, really were), that we should go with three of the smaller share plates, two larger and maybe some rice.
Sounded like a plan.
Luckily for him, Rich arrived a few seconds before the girls put in their order. Jo and Li explained the array of meats they were about to delve into, which, unbeknownst to them, would unexpectedly compliment one another.
Here's the damage:
Small & Medium Shares
Prawn on Sugarcane ($12)
three prawn minced and wrapped around sugarcane
Fried Quail ($22)
three tender deep fried quail halves served with pepper, salt & lemon
Duck a L’orange ($26)
two slow roasted duck leg with a sharp and sweet fresh orange juice reduction
Beef & Betel Leaf ($28)
tender eye fillet strips, wok tossed with betel leaves, garlic and served on a fine potato puree
Whole Baby Snapper ($42)
steamed to order and served with sweet ginger, garlic and hoisin sauce with mushrooms and bean vermicelli
Traditional Mekong Salad ($8)
pickled carrot, wombok and onion lightly dressed with a sweet and sour vinaigrette
Sautéed Green Beans ($10)
with sliced water chestnuts and ground lap cheong
Spicy Fries Saigon ($7)
with Pineapple Mayo
Our prawns arrived first. JoJo and LiLi fact #548: we love sugar cane. We grew up chewing sticks of the things to extract that sweetened liquid gold and get our sugar fix. Can you imagine what we were like when we found out you could actually juice sugar cane? A story for another time, don't worry.
This was a great starter. A juicy sweetened minced prawn that was kept moist by the sugar cane skewer and wasn't in any way overdone. A simple delicacy that most don't always get right.
JoJo ordered this on the recommendation of her Grumpy Mate Dave and would like to take this opportunity to formally thank him for this suggestion because this AMAZING.
The sticky tangy marinade permeated every square centimetre and that salt and pepper surprisingly added a whole different depth of flavour to this tasty dish. A clear winner for everyone, so much so that we cleaned each of our birds entirely - even some of the smaller, crispier bones.
Next up, the Duck a L'Orange.
Even just thinking about the bold flavours of this dish makes our toes curl. Think of the most succulent duck leg you've ever had and if you haven't had duck - dark chicken meat, but with more flavour - lightly fried and swimming in a beautifully sharp citrus reduction.
Don't worry about an overwhelming orange juice flavour, this is more a tart citrus. It's somehow creamy and jam packed with flavours of lemongrass, ginger and is mild spices.
Then, our mains came pouring out.
Our sides were great - the green beans were brilliantly crisp and so were it's accompanying and similarly crunchy water chestnuts.
And really, who can go wrong with chips? Sinfully addictive.
The king of sides though would have to be the Mekong Salad. Such a refreshing accompaniment to our main dishes that is very playful on the tongue. Think of the traditional tanginess that you would associate Vietnamese dishes with, like a bun bo xao - thats the vinaigrette and the pickled vegetables in this salad.
Another absolute winner is the beef with betel leaf. This dish holds it's own with it's bold flavours and tender beef strips. Seriously guys. Yum.
Our only criticism is that it could probably do without the potato purée, but hey, you may not have ordered a couple of side dishes like we did and could eat this all by itself and that's totally okay.
You are the bey of your potato purée.
This baby snapper.
Was so succulent.
Like, holy cow, why don't we have this instead of fish and chips in place of battered fish and chips more often?! Even though it's a smaller snapper fish, it's an adequate serving for three people for sure. A lot of coriander, chilli and ginger and a beautiful sauce to compliment the natural sweetness of this fish - just brilliant.
We definitely needed to come down from all of the excitement we'd just experienced from this amazing food, and what better way to end the night than with dessert.
Like we were going to skimp on that anyway.
Even though it wasn't on the menu, we asked if we could order a coffee for Grumpy Mate Rich and we were happy to learn that they could accomodate an iced latte! They even went so far as to ask if we wanted ice cream with it or just straight up milk. Knowing Rich and his penchant for avoiding carbs and sugar, we ordered the latte sans la glace and just look at how it was presented. It was a pretty decent brew too!
The girls wanted something a little more substantial though so they poured over the menu and came to this conclusion.
Banana Pudding ($12)
sliced banana in warm coconut milk and sago with peanuts
Strawberry Mille Feuille ($12)
pastry-like petit gâteau layered with cream, pomegranate jam and stawberries
The Banana Pudding was the very definition of comfort food. A soul soother. Bed readier. Broken heart mender.
It was every bit as warm and gooey as it looks, with pillows of sago and banana that just melts in your mouth and sends you straight to your happy place.
It's like something your mother would make you and tell you how much better it was for you than the usual sweet suspects. That kind of comfort.
Jo was quite surprised when her dessert came out, she wasn't expecting anything quite as spectacular as this!
Have you ever had puff pastry finger biscuits? That was the first thing that came to mind as the girls cut through the layers of delicate dessert and they were instantly brought back to their childhoods for the second time that evening.
The pomegranate jam was slightly different to the usual selection of preserves - still berry-like but not at all as sweet.
You couldn't call this heavy, not with the airy whipped cream and cuts of fruit. But, after a feast like the one that the crew had just survived, Jo did need a bit of extra help to finish it off, for certain.
The night rounded off after a good three hours of grazing - just where did the time go?!
The staff checked in on us often throughout the dinner service but weren't in anyway encroaching. We were mostly looked after by Jason who was chatty, engaging and hilarious. It was clear from his interactions with us that he genuinely enjoyed mingling with guests and loved the food and all that Cōchin represented. It was infectious and it's stuff like this that really makes a diner's experience - especially a newcomer.
When it came to the end of our little venture, Jason came to us with an eftpos machine and once again, we chatted about the food and gushed over our favourites. Jo blindly worked the machine and produced the reciept. LiLi reviewed it so that she knew how much she needed to pay Jo back for the evening and noticed something a little odd.
Whoops! It had been a fairly long day! Oh well, 100% deserved and no, you may not know how much JoJo tipped ;)
I had a similar experience of Cochin to another Asian fusion restaurant the night before. Silly LiLi. Sufficed to say that it didn't hinder my experience and I love Cochin completely.
During the meal, I said the duck was going to be the make or break of this experience. I have one word: WOW. It was succulent beyond my imagination coupled with an orange reduction and I couldn't get enough. At first I thought "it can't get better than this?" and queue the baby snapper - AMAZING! It was soft, fell off the bone and was just the right sweetness to taste. I would go back just to relive my time through the duck and snapper.
My other fav was the Mekong salad. I loved pickled anything so to have a crisp, fresh salad helped end my meal on a tangy, juicy note.
From customer service, the atmosphere and food, you will not be disappointed with this French Vietnamese cuisine. The staff have time for you, are attentive and know the menu well to make the recommendations that are suited for you. I believe, the fewer people you go with, the more food you get to experience
It honestly felt like every subsequent dish elevated the last and I don't know if the menu was curated to do exactly that or if it was the dishes we chose or the sequence that they came out in but, wow.
I am in love with the quail, betel beef and duck and recommend that you order any or all of these things. Each are chock full of flavour and but very different in their own right - The quail was delicious. To the Bone. EAT THE BONES TOO. JUST EAT IT ALL.
The beef was gorgeous and I'd probably have a hard time finding anyone who disliked it, same goes for the duck.
Service is consistent and all staff are knowledgeable and share the same friendly and approachable demeanour.
Genuinely blown away by all facets of this experience and I firmly believe that these guys have some great things headed their way. I was in a beautiful room, with great company after a really hard week at work. I was served beautiful food by people who cared - can it really get any better than that?
Food and Drink: ★★★★★
Customer Service: ★★★★★
General Atmosphere: ★★★★☆
Value for Money: ★★★★★
Food and Drink: ★★★★★
Customer Service: ★★★★★
General Atmosphere: ★★★★★
Value for Money: ★★★★☆
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Cōchin shares the space of it's predecessor Grandma Funk. It's a valuable location near the Swan/Church St intersection and is easily accessible by tram. It's noticeable dark exterior is prominent passing by on the stretch of Swan.
The bold black interior is modern and sleek, setting the tone for your intimate evening and the staff are simply exceptional, ensuring you feel right at home from the moment you walk through the door.
Cōchin also offer a set menu for groups of 10 or more which are worth looking into as it's a good way to try a lot of their different offerings for a fraction of the price.
All prices listed are subject to change without prior notice. Please enquire for details on pricing and availability with Cōchin directly. Bookings are highly recommended.