Cococabana is a tough one. It’s in a fantastic location in Deep Water Bay on Hong Kong’s South Side, and you can’t help but feel relaxed when you arrive.
However, the success of the dishes can be erratic, the service usually haphazard, and the price is fairly steep. But, if you hit the right dishes, and make sure you deal with the manager or the head waiter or JP himself then you can look forward to some of the best times you have had in a restaurant in Hong Kong.
It is super chilled. My favourite time to come is during the week at lunch time (especially if skiving off work, or taking clients new to HK, it always bowls them over). There are usually a couple of regulars, it’s great to get stuck into the wine and feel like a naughty child, and to sit on the comfy cushions in the shade looking over Deep Water Bay is truly satisfying, and can only induce a feeling of being at peace with the world.
Food: French Mediterranean. JP has Corsican blood in there somewhere, not just French! For me, his Nicoise salad and Bouillabaisse in particular are outstanding, and I very much enjoy the bacon wrapped goat’s cheese with honey dressing, as well as the John Dory. I tend to stick to his seafood dishes and have more luck there than the meat.
Drinks: He has an eclectic wine list, that veers to the expensive, but if you do know a bit about wine (as fortunately my partner does), then you can pick something good at the lower end and if JP is around then he is happy to guide. I also really enjoy the homemade lemonade.
Ambience: On top of the public changing rooms at Deep Water Bay, doesn’t sound very sophisticated, but it’s all white table cloths, big banquettes and huge cushions. It can get very hot and sunny during the day, so always ask for somewhere in the shade if that’s your need. The view over the beach and Deep Water Bay make it quite an idyllic spot for Hong Kong island, and you quickly start to ignore the traffic noise and tune into the French muzak. A lot of French people eat here which adds to the Med vibe, and it’s always got a holiday atmosphere because you are on the beach.
Service: The service here can be staggeringly bad. Disorganised and careless are words that spring to mind. However, it can also be efficient, and it’s always friendly, with apologies and make-ups quickly forthcoming if you tell management your frustrations. They certainly know they aren’t faultless.
Price: Set-lunch $298 per head, set dinner $398. If you want more than one course then I would suggest going for the sets as they are much better value. A la carte can see main courses up to $298 a pop. A bottle of wine is going to be at the very least $300. For two people I usually spend a minimum of $1000 for supper including drinks, and usually that at lunch because I get carried away on the vino.
This may surprise many of you, given my usual rants on bad service especially, but overall, I do really like Cococabana, despite it’s obvious faults. I think as I’ve been a Southsider before and been here at many different times of week and day I’ve seen it at its best and worst, and have come to enjoy it immensely.
Some people hate it, some people love it and I can understand both points of view.
If you stick to seafood, kick back and know to keep on top of your waiters then you will have a great time and will end up returning and falling into the latter category.