Saturday, December 13, 2008


We decided to do a food tasting of the degustation menu at Cochin after we had made an exclusive booking of the premises for the Big Day. Cochin is one of the finalists for best Asian restaurant in the Restaurant and Catering Awards for Excellence 2008, conveniently located in our neighbourhood and serving French-Vietnamese cuisine, seems like an apt choice to reflect our East-West union. Having dined there before, we also like the food and the ambience.

We visited exactly a month to the Big Day. I forgot how many courses there are exactly in the degustation menu, and they also combine a couple of courses listed in the menu into a plate when they serve. But boy, were we stuffed by the time we got to the 3rd to last course and were just able to roll ourselves down the road home. But I am getting ahead of myself here. So I shall start at the beginning.

The starter was an asparagus veloute served in a larger version of a shot glass. I like this creamy soup, the portion was just nice seeing that this was just the first course and we should not be filled up with too much liquids.

Next came the spring rolls and the summer rice paper rolls. I especially like the fried spring rolls of pork and prawn.

I got the Peking duck pancake next. Peking duck is one of my favourite dishes, and I've had many, many Peking duck from various restaurants in various cities, including the famous one in Beijing. This one was all right, it wasn't anything special

G got the crab claws as he is a fishisaurus and they had done a special menu to cater for his culinary preferences. I think his crab claws, with the chockful of crabmeat, were a winner over my Peking duck.
Next came the coconut garlic prawns with sourdough bread. This was a little strange to me, as it tasted exactly like the coconut hard candy we have back in Singapore and Malaysia. G liked it very much, but I just couldn't get over how much the sauce for the prawns tasted like coconut candy and still am undecided whether I like it or not. The prawns were big and succulent though.

The pork hock with papaya salad was really, really good. I think this was one of the stars of the menu. The skin was crispy, the meat was tender and moist, the savouriness of the meat juxtaposed with the crunchy, tanginess of the papaya salad. Clearly a winner. G was served a grilled barramundi fillet with a side sauce. I believe he enjoyed the fish. As my pork hock was an enormous portion, I didn't ask for a taste of G's as I was busy trying to tackle my own dish.

Next was a tempura soft-shelled crab each, served with a french salad of goat's cheese. I am not fond of goat's cheese and my attempt at a small cube reaffirmed that.

The attentive waiter presented the next dish of a huge slab of sesame-crusted salmon with some Chinese greens and explained to us that I was supposed to get the tea-smoked duck while G gets the salmon. But as it was impossible to serve half a portion of duck as they normally serve the menu to a minimum of 2 people, we were both getting the salmon instead. I was a little disappointed as the duck was a highlight of Cochin's menu and I had the tea-smoked duck once and it was excellent and I was so looking forward to a repeat of that experience.

By this time when we had the salmon with pandan-flavoured steamed rice, we were holding our tummies and we figured this surely must be the last of the dishes and the next had to be dessert. We had lost count of how many courses we had but we knew that we were about to surrender. Our gluttony had its limit too.

But no, the waiter brings us yet another dish. It was a tumeric fish. We looked at it almost in despair, and at each other and asked the waiter if he could pack it for us to take away as it was just futile to even try. The waiter announced that this was it! The last thing to come next was dessert, of course G told him in that case, there is always room for dessert. We put on a brave front and waited some time for our choices of creme brulee and chocolate mousse to arrive. I think they needed some time to torch the creme brulee, which was good as it gave us some respite.

We spoon our desserts down, our valiant attempts finally succumbed to good sense which probably came a little too late. Overly satiated with too much, too rich, we completed our food tasting experience and felt that although the food was good, it was just way too much. We had eaten more than for our own good. We could not subject our guests to the same experience. We wanted people to enjoy themselves and not eat themselves sick. So we decided to do the sensible thing and pick the banquet menu which is only 1 main and a salad less than the degustation menu. Hopefully, our guests would be able to deal with that and enjoy the Big Day without the need for an antacid!

PS. I didn't eat anything the following day till 3.30 pm (when I ate a small piece of bread with vegemite) because I was still full from the degustation dinner. This was the extent of the over- indulgence and how very overstuffed I was. Gluttony is indeed a sin...

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