Date of review: June 30, 2016 | Reviewed by: Wilson Fok
Cochin occupies the space that formerly housed Peruvian restaurant Chicha, and is helmed by French chef Renaud Marin, an experienced alumni of Philippe Orrico’s umbrella of restaurants including Upper Modern Bistro and On Dining.
The restaurant is divided into two main sections: the kitchen bar and the main dining area. Passing by the cheese fridge is the main dining space, you come across a square room with patterned wooden tables and blue leather sofas. The dimmed lighting makes the room seem smaller, but tables are well-spaced apart. On the walls are photographs of Paris, a light reminder of the restaurant’s French roots.
Cochin Delicatessen is equal parts French deli and proper restaurant, importing artisanal charcuterie and cheeses from the famed Les Freres Marchand. We started our meal with the lobster Caesar salad, where a large wedge of Romaine lettuce was plated with white anchovies and meaty morsels of lobster.
The slight touch of garlic brings sharpness to the salad, and between crisp lettuce and tender lobster, the white anchovies gave the salad a flavour lift. Prawn carpaccio with fennel is beautifully presented, with shavings of fennel scattered across the raw butterflied prawns. A sharp zing of lemon lightens this refreshing starter. The foie gras crème brulee is a standard at Upper Modern Bistro, and chef Marin’s version is smoother, and the poppy seed caramel topping adds texture.
The mains came in relatively large portions. The Brittany red mullet with confit lemon gremolata is impressive. The meaty red mullet, deboned, gave in to the bite with a zesty lemon-herb topping to cut the richness.
Organic lamb ‘pot au feu’ arrived on a blue soup dish, which did not do justice to show how clear the meat broth was. The lamb, slowly simmered in the broth, was fork-tender. We ordered the half portion of Fadi organic yellow chicken. The bird and its jus were served in the pan it was roasted in. Under the golden brown skin was the meat, juicy throughout.
Guests can choose to have a cheese course featuring three or five cheeses from Les Freres Marchand. Cheese lovers can also have the resident cheese expert pick a few good ones. Desserts may not hold as much surprise on paper but we urge that you don’t judge them by the name. The mille-feuille is served with a thick pastry cream filling and homemade vanilla ice cream. The buttery pastry is flaky and rich, bursting into shards when cut. The lemon meringue tart features a creamy lemon curd filling, with tiny but uniform pipings of meringue across the top. Don’t miss the lemon sorbet on the side, as the tartness of it will rinse the palate of the richness from the buttery desserts.
Cochin Delicatessen’s wine list features a good selection of affordable labels especially as by-the-glass options. The Saint-Romain Alain Gras 2014 brings citrus to the nose, a refreshing but complex profile that enriches the first courses of seafood such as the lobster Caesar and the prawn carpaccio. Sancerre Gerard Fiou 2014 is much lighter but still aromatic to start. The vibrancy of the pale gold wine is slightly tart, with an almost gooseberry-like grassy profile that pairs well with desserts such as the lemon meringue tart.
The service at Cochin Delicatessen is casual, but helpful. Staff are knowledgeable with menu offerings, especially on its signature charcuterie and cheeses. Portion control is on point as well. Chef Marin mainly stays at the kitchen but occasionally chats with guests after main courses. We do, however, suggest checking your bill against your orders to make sure the amount is correct as ours were mixed up with the next table’s, but upon notification the restaurant is quick to amend with the correct bill.
A full dinner for two including one glass of wine each amounts to HK$1,400. Cochin Delicatessen marks an impressive entry as chef Marin’s debut restaurant. The great pairing of food and wine, as well as the impressive cheese selection is one of a few reasons to tide us back for more.