For a while, I’ve been craving dim sum – halal dim sum to be exact. I did not know this existed as I’ve always had to eat the fish or vegetarian dim sum and to be honest, knowing it can come in so many more varieties just made the meal less satisfying in non-halal Chinese restaurants. There is also that constant worry of the cross contamination that could occur if any alcohol or pork is used in the cooking process. Slightly off-putting, I tend to only eat Chinese food at halal certified restaurants, however due to my eternal love for the cuisine, especially dim sum, I have been banging my head against the desk in search for somewhere that serves dim sum as well as the famous Chinese staples. Putting the pain at the back of my mind at the thought of never finding the dreamy halal dim sum, I carried on with my normal activities until I saw something catch my eye on Twitter. “London’s first #halal #chinese #dimsum” tweeted by Cocochan. I couldn’t believe it! So I opened the website’s menu and was overwhelmed by just how much they squished into those two pages – that was a lot of food to choose from! Ranging from Korean to Indian, Cocochan cooks classic dishes with a modern twist. When mixing various cuisines together it is usually a recipe for disaster as they need to have the same consistency with each dish, but for the sake of my readers I just knew I had to face this ordeal head on. Well of course I couldn’t face this happening-disaster alone, so who else do I take who I know will forever love me no matter how awful food I feed them? My family! So I booked a table for Saturday night at Cocochan and informed the clan that the food was “to-die-for-delicious.” I went with my fingers crossed that the food really was as delicious as I’d bragged to my family. After all I had plans the next day and didn’t want to be bruised up by my siblings!! How do you think it went? Well here goes… Beef Tataki Strips of (I’m assuming) fillet steak that were thinly sliced and seared to a delicious juicy medium to medium rare. This was then topped with crispy fried onions, salad and Japanese dressing. The dressing added a slight sweetness to the peppery steak slices causing contrasting but delightful flavours. It was a twist on the sweet and spicy original Chinese dishes, but seemed more sophisticated. Positive. Spicy Tuna Ura Maki For those who are not aware of what this is, it is fresh tuna wrapped in sticky rice and seaweed paper, which is then topped with a spicy sauce. The red blobs of spicy sauce definitely needed to be a lot spicier to make this sushi have a kick and while it was pleasant I don’t think I would order this dish again. Negative. Prawn Tempura These tempura were elongated stretched prawns that were then fried in batter until slightly crisp. Cocochan excelled at these as they were tasty yet were not greasy. Positive. Sesame Prawn Toast Nothing special or memorable. Negative. X.O Prawn Dumplings I absolutely love Chinese dumplings – steamed, grilled, fried, whatever- they are just mini parcels of dough full of goodies. These X.O prawn dumplings were stuffed to the dumpling skin with marinated prawns and topped with green fish roe. I’m not really sure what X.O stands for… some sort of sauce or secret ingredient? Either way, they were such a hit; we in fact ordered two rounds of these bad boys. Double Positive. Crispy Aromatic Duck Rolls I know for a fact that each and every one of you go to a Halal Chinese restaurant and order the crispy duck with pancakes. Who doesn’t? But, there’s also the hassle of putting the condiments together, unless you have that one family member who makes one for each person – thanks Mum. Worry not, Cocochan has done the hard work for you and combined everything together in a fried crispy pancake stuffed with crispy duck and spring onions. These were good but when dipped in the accompanying plum sauce, it became too sweet so I finished the roll by itself. Positive. Prawn and Chive Dumpling These weren’t anything out of the norm, but were delicious anyways. Perhaps. Special Tuna Roll The special tuna roll was in fact raw tuna wrapped in cooked tuna with a small layer of rice and seaweed in between. It was definitely different and I cannot recall having a tuna roll like this, but it was the best sushi of the night. Double Positive for sushi lovers. Spider Soft Shell Crab Futo Maki Deep fried, soft and salty crab was wrapped with the usual sushi attire and tasted delicious when drowned in a mixture of soy sauce, ginger and tear-jerking wasabi. It was really nice with some leftovers as soft shell crab is often a required taste. Positive. Chargrilled Bulgogi Strip Loin This dish was in essence a steak cut thickly and cooked to a medium/medium-well. I’m aware that this is similar to the beef tataki we had for starters, but the taste and texture was completely different in which the tataki is drenched in Japanese dressing and the Bulgogi remains dry on top of a mushroom bed. It was soft, delicious and quickly polished off. Positive. Green Chicken Curry The thick boneless chicken was cooked in a creamy coconut sauce but lacked in green chilly, so for some it was an enjoyable affair without any sweat drops forming on the temples, but for others it was good but not the best. Perhaps. Beef Hotpot Albeit the few chewy pieces, the beef was smothered in black bean sauce with thick cuts of red and green peppers, which added a slight sweetness to the meat. Yet again,Cocochan didn’t fail to deliver with their beef dishes. Positive. Chocolate Fondant A decent take on fondant with the filling not being as runny as usual. The chocolate cake filled with runny chocolate was delicious, but slowly became slightly too sweet. Chocolate heaven, but a good sweet to share. Perhaps. Pistachio Chocolate Fondant This was a chocolate fondant containing a pistachio gooey centre. Brother B did not enjoy this at all and barely ate more than a mouthful, which is unusual for his super sweet tooth. Negative. Coconut and Mango Parfait This is a dessert for the coconut lover that is literally coconut ice cream with a mango sauce. The combination was sublime and absolutely delicious. Two were ordered and the plates were left absolutely cleaned up. Double Positive.
Salted Caramel Mousse The ability to mix both sweet and salty perfectly to form the ideal combination is astonishing; to make it into an enjoyable dessert is beyond that. It seems more and more places are playing with sea salted desserts, from cookies to mousse. The mousse in this dessert was light, fluffy and not too overtly sweet. Half the clan put their thumbs up while the rest placed theirs down. This dish is for the more dessert connoisseurs. Positive.
The bill amounted to a ridiculous £228 for six people; this was definitely a lot to pay but for a location in the heart of central London, should I have been that surprised? Well yes, and no. Yes because Cocochan’s portions, especially the starters, are only suitable for 4 people and for a party of six, it is difficult not to over order without a mass amount of leftovers and the cost slowly adding up. And no because for the location plus being awarded London’s best Pan Asian restaurant, I really was not expecting a cheap affair.
The restaurant does serve alcohol which is a downside to those who do not eat at establishments that serve alcohol on its premises but Cocochan do provide lunch time take away boxes for a special price and these contain a taste of everything. Being the first pure Halal meat Dim Sum restaurant in London, Cocochan really sets the bar high for all those restaurants that will hopefully follow suit. Despite the desserts not being up to scratch, the starters and mains were delicious enough to overcome this. The sushi does not compare to that of Nobu or Zuma, but Cocochan delivers an experience to Muslims that will widen their horizon on the several types of food that are available to them in the diverse capital they live in. With regards to my dim sum dream, Cocochan isn’t quite there yet, but I have high hopes that they expand their range of dim sum on the menu to suit the rapidly changing taste buds of our trending sector.
Halal Status: All meats served are halal. No pork but alcohol is present. Last updated August 2022.
Address: 38-40 James St, London W1U 1EU