Throughout the past decade, Cocotei's founders have cultivated a consistent reputation for crowd-pleasing cuisine, reaching back to their creation of Hajime on Jalan Damai to their subsequent reincarnation as Cocotei on Jalan Delima. The restaurant now continues its evolution, moving to a new location on Jalan Raja Chulan - a sprawling space with intriguing corners, including beautiful private rooms, for customers to come together over a capably executed Japanese meal in the city centre.
Cocotei's menu ploughs through the pillars of Nippon-inspired fare, focusing on fresh, nourishing produce to complement its naturalistic-themed setting. The ideal introduction might be the Zensai Santen, a collection of three appetisers that change every week to illustrate the kitchen's reliance on seasonal seafood & vegetables, with firefly squid, spinach in sesame sauce & a cute chick-shaped prawn fritter among the recent highlights. Also for whetting the appetite, the Coco Salad boasts a heap of crunchy, clean-tasting soft-shell crab on a crisp mix of veggies, poured over with creamy, house-made sesame sauce.
Sashimi is well-represented by the requisite staples, plus specials like this sayori, the slender halfbeak fish that's best before the early summer spawning period, recommended for patrons who enjoy light, pure nuances in their raw seafood. It's elegantly presented, with the head & tail deep-fried on request to a deliciously edible brittleness.
Our favourite orders at Hajime were often the ceaselessly addictive sushi rolls - Cocotei's mastery of maki will spur greedy gobbling too; the modern classic of Black Spider Maki is a treat for fans of soft-shell crab with a hefty, flavourful bite, while the Dragonfly Maki crowns a roll of shrimp tempura & avocado with a luxury-loving flourish of gold flakes & roe.
Inaniwa udon on ice makes for a memorable finish, exemplary in both its delicate taste & smooth texture, followed by ice cream in can't-fail flavours like yuzu, black sesame & wasabi with red beans. Many thanks to the Cocotei team for having us.
Cocotei Tokyo Japanese Cuisine
84, Ground Floor, Annex of Holiday Inn Express, Jalan Raja Chulan, Kuala Lumpur.
Open daily, 1030am-2pm, 6pm-10pm. Tel: 03-2164-5265