Date of review: March 31, 2016 | Reviewed by: Wilson Fok
South Lane was a lesser-known side street before Cobo House opened. The quiet block near Queen’s Road West makes for an ideal location for the restaurant. Spanning 3,000 square feet over two floors, the establishment seats just over 40 in a dining space, painted beige and light grey with a subdued minimalist touch. Cobo House’s high ceiling widens the otherwise narrow ground floor, with a dessert bar set near the far end of the restaurant. Tables by the floor-to-ceiling windows are the best spots at the restaurant, as the windows allow just enough natural light on a clear day.
On our visit one week after its grand opening, Cobo House offered a full degustation menu, with options for guests to create their own three-course or four-course menu from the à la carte selections, with the latter adding a starter to the soup-main-dessert arrangement. The choose-your-own option is certainly a better deal, if you choose wisely. The scampi ravioli sits atop contrasting purées of pumpkin and pea, both purees were attractive but fridge-cold. The ravioli dish is executed well, with the taste was elevated by a black garlic purée served alongside. Soups are weak at Cobo House, as the chicken consommé was lukewarm with a strong punch of thyme that overpowered the chicken, while the potato soup tasted like under seasoned hot cream instead. The Serrano ham roll served on the side, however, had the right crispy texture that provided a contrast to the velvety soup.
We recommend the cod fish as a main at Cobo House. The creamy texture is perfect pairing to the smooth smoked aubergine purée. If only the garlic aioli was a little less pungent, the dish would taste more balanced. The chicken, slow cooked and served with orzo and caponata, was a miss for us. The chicken is too sweet as a main, but the bed of orzo is rich and al dente.
Desserts are Janice Wong’s strength, and Cobo House confirms the notion. Shades of green brings the tropical combination of coconut and pandan leaf. The coconut crisp snaps well and best with light pandan sponge while the pandan ice cream is sweet and great with the crumble underneath. The chef’s signature cassis plum is a hit, especially with the tangy elderflower yoghurt foam that matches with the yuzu jelly and the bed of umeshu granita underneath.
The digital wine list is an interesting read at Cobo House, as wines are categorized by flavour profiles instead of geographical regions. You can expect a few rare finds and artisanal gems exclusive to Janice Wong’s Hong Kong outpost, with some matching by the glass selections such as Lebenshilfe Riesling Kabinett, Pfalz 2014, an aromatic white wine with a strong floral character and honey on the palate that matches well refreshing appetizers and some of the mains. Our sommelier also recommended the Weingut Heitlinger Mellow Silk Pinor Noir, Baden 2011, whose dry, medium body may work better on duck breast or wagyu beef as mains.
The staff members at Cobo House are friendly and attentive. They are familiar with the menus and equipped with sound knowledge on portion control and suggestions for dishes. Wine pairing knowledge, however, needs improving.
Dinner for two including a glass of wine each amounts to just under HK$1,400. Desserts continue to exemplify Janice Wong’s passion but we hope the chef’s vision for a more well-rounded restaurant is better realised on the savoury side of the menu.