Cocobar & Kitchen Club Lounge is tucked in a quieter row and that’s a good spot to hangout if you don’t really want to be hemmed in by crowds in the noisier sections of that sprawling crazy maze known as Publika. Its cosy and intimate theme is great for some private chit-chats; at the same time, for the restless, there’s a pool table for some friendly challenges with buddies. Cocktails, wines, champagnes and liquors are all available to tickle your fancy.
Cocktails come with names like Sexy Lesley, Pink Pussy, Seabreeze and Chocotini!
What sets this place apart from many others is that their kitchen serves up some good African dishes besides the usual bar snacks. There are still the standard French fries and fried chicken wings for the uninitiated but what we really like are the more exotic items. No, not zebras or giraffes (you wished!) but rather, simple ingredients cooked the African way.
Start off with something tongue tingling – the African Hot & Spicy Gizzards (RM15) are sure to spring up your taste buds! The paste coating the chewy gizzards is a blend of chillies, garlic and African spices – pretty lethal stuff, in a good way.
Egusi – can you spot the pieces of cow skin?
The must-try item here is the Egusi and Poundo (RM35) – a typical West African delicacy. Egusi is made from ground melon seeds, spinach, fish flakes and spices. Pieces of cow skin are also added and it’s a tedious cooking process as the cow skin takes a long time to soften to a manageable chewy texture. The grainy paste looks like cereal but trust me, it’s not and it is really tasty! Cocobar serves this with fried fish or beef and it is to be eaten with Poundo.
Poundo looks somewhat like our Indian snack, idli but that’s where the resemblance stops. Unlike idli, poundo is made by combining yam powder (from Africa) with water. The texture is soft and a bit gummy – the way to eat this is to combine a spoonful of the Poundo with some Egusi. Poundo on its own is tasteless but when eaten with the grainy Egusi, it becomes quite familiar – just like how we eat our idli/thosai with accompanying chutneys.
The BBQ Fish is a signature item. A grilled whole seabass with fried plantains on the side is accompanied by dips of Mayonnaise and Green Peli Chilli Sauce. This fish is good for 2 pax, served with 2 glasses of white or red wine is priced at RM85, and if you prefer a whole bottle of wine, it’s RM150. Covered with raw onion rings, we initially thought the fish looked rather ordinary. To our pleasant surprise, the fish is executed very well – the tasty marinade worked wonders and the perfectly grilled seabass goes well with the green peli chilli sauce.
We are intrigued by the West African Fried Rice (RM35) on the menu as we didn’t think Afrikaans eat that. We are told by Andy Daniel (the owner) that fried rice is commonly eaten in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. However, you have to be very patient if you order this. The whole process of cooking this fried rice is rather long and complicated, very unlike our local version which takes just a few minutes to cook. The process involves cooking rice from scratch and the series of rinsing required before the rice is actually cooked with the condiments.
The long wait is rewarded with this plate of delectable yellow Fried Rice. It looks plain and simple with some fried plantains by the side, accompanied by a piece of fried fish. However, the texture of the rice is unique – due to the rinsing process, the starch has been drained resulting in rice grains which are firm, slightly bouncy and very moreish. There are bits of mixed vegetables and sliced sausages in the rice but these simple ingredients somehow manage to impart some unique flavours onto the rice.
An appetizer worth mentioning is the Mexican Chicken (RM15) – yes, it’s not very African but the flavours are pretty addictive!
Cocobar & Kitchen Club Lounge
Solaris Dutamas (Publika)
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Open at 4pm till late (Mondays-Sundays)