Cocoa Kitchen – Dubai
Located in an upbeat and ever growing-in-popularity spot of City Walk, Cocoa Kitchen benefits from a fantastic location where every visitor is bewildered by a controlled micro-climate in a huge yet almost open alleyway brightened by flashy billboards.
For those who love the famous ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ film, stepping inside Cocoa Kitchen can take you on a fictional (and somewhat nostalgic) journey, as the restaurant’s theme is indeed a ‘chocolate factory’.
There are industrial pipes literally running all across the ceiling with plenty of valves urging you to fidget with.
After being ushered to our table, our server, Mariel, gave us the low down on the restaurants concept.
Yes, every dish has some form of cocoa in it, be it straight up chocolate or the use of the cocoa nib; but while we felt nervous at the thought of sweet chocolate being in everything, such notions were quickly dispelled with the understanding that cocoa does not necessarily equate to sweet chocolate. In any case, we were about to find out.
Having spent a decade in the Middle East’s heat, one quickly learns that lemon and mint help to quench the thirst and keep the body hydrated.
So we had a Raspberry and Rosemary Lemonade and, as we were recommended, a Cocoa Kitchen firm favorite: the Passionfruit Mojito with Mint.
Both drinks felt refreshing at the time, but what was to follow was a jaw-dropping and first-of-its-kind experience.
We began with a creative sauce, freshly made by our server in a mortar and pestle consisting of cocoa nibs, straight out of the cocoa, and pesto sauce with olive oil.
Made from crushed cacao beans, these raw nibs were crunchy, flavourful and packed with powerful nutrients, antioxidants and fibre. This was served with white toasted bread.
We realised right there and then that Cocoa Kitchen would live up to its name by utilising cocoa in every dish served.
However, although it tasted slightly bitter and nutty, the pesto and oil helped balance things out.
Our first starter was a Table Top Garden, which was literally a vegetable patch in a beautifully manicured window box. This really was something else!
With a layer of labneh cheese at the bottom, the soil on top consisted of cocoa shavings with apple jelly made to look like slugs.
From asparagus, broccoli florets and mini carrots, to miniature shovels intended for the use of digging. Of course, we did just that!
And though this really was a sight for sore eyes, and while you’d give them full marks for creativity, taste wise, it wasn’t anything special, amounting essentially to vegetables with labneh for a dip!
NOTE: (V) Suitable for Vegetarians, (N) Contains Nuts, (DF) Dairy Free, (S) Shellfish, (GF) Gluten Free.
Again the effect of the dish being served stayed with us all evening.
It arrived at the table under a glass full of smoke on a bed of leaves with a mixture of tomatoes and pesto.
It was a little too cold for our liking, much preferring burrata at room temperature the way it should be served; but still tasted pleasurable.
One of our favorites, the Tuna Ceviche had the perfect blend of lemony pickle flavours making it stand out from the ordinary ceviche.
This had a white chocolate dressing that went favourably with the dish. The lavosh (Armenian cracker bread) had your cocoa nibs incrusted within.
Despite feeling, by this stage, as though we had had enough, there was still so much more to come.
It is important to remember also that Cocoa Kitchen has the view of presenting dishes for sharing. As such, since each portion is designed to allow at least 2-3 guests a sufficient taster, this allows one the option of trying out more dishes.
Our mains arrived with a bang, one after the other, and boy, were we charged up.
The Butternut Squash Cocoa Ravioli was our absolute favorite dish here.
Layers of cocoa infused ravioli with the most amazing parmesan crust.
Sprinkled with cracked wheat on a bed of rocket with a parmesan cream topped with a balsamic and chilli cashew crumble, this was something straight out of heaven. We kid you not, these were the most delicate pasta pillows stuffed with rightness we have ever come across.
We’ll be back just for these!
The rest of our mains arrived together, and being a meat lover, we were keen to try the Cocoa Crusted Beef Tenderloin.
Coming out medium just as ordered, the sliced succulent pieces of beef were pretty much melt in your mouth.
Accompanied by a side of crispy kale, carrots and white chocolate mashed potatoes, which were a little strange to say the least, this just didn’t hit the spot.
We’d concluded at the first bite that these Seared Scallops were our second favorite dish of the evening.
The blend of cauliflower, chopped peaches, scallops with the creamy sauce of white chocolate and tamarind, may sound an ill-matched combination, but it was quite the contrary. All the flavours counterbalanced each other with none overpowering the other.
A clear winner!
There was the option of having this dish with fish or chicken. We decided on the latter.
Unfortunately, and as the name suggests, this Caribbean Rundown Curry was pretty rundown!
The curry lacked flavour, and we felt the chef could have been a little more creative in adding some excitement to it.
The side of cocoa nib rice was sticky, and would have been more suitable for a Thai curry.
Another thumbs up on creativity.
The plate arrived with a large cocoa pod that we realised after a few seconds was actually made up of chocolate.
It looked strikingly similar to the streaks and uneven shape of a pod.
As our server poured hot white chocolate over the center of the pod, the show began.
As expected, the pod melted away entirely leaving us with a thick layer of pannacotta cheese and a large scoop of apple sorbet in the middle.
This was absolutely divine and tasted like nothing we had had before.
For any chocolate lover, this was luxury at its finest.
- BABY SEATS
The chef’s vast experience and creativity practically shone through the menu.
It’s not easy to use cocoa as an ingredient, especially in savory foods, but we feel the chef has done justice here.
Kudos to him for bringing something out of the box to Dubai!
We will surely be back to endeavor on more cocoa flavors again very soon.
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City Walk, Jumeirah 1
Store Number B02-00-12,
T: +971 4 343 2506 | W: cocoakitchen.ae
Opening Hours: Sun-Thur 08:00-00:00, Fri 08:00-01:00, Sat 08:00-01:00