Kookoo (Persian) – Surbiton, London
We were compelled to give Kookoo a visit in Surbiton after its surprising win at this year’s Asian Restaurant Awards.
Following its rebranding and relaunch from Sarab’s ‘Taste of Persia’ to a ‘Grill & Seafood’ venue at the end of January, Kookoo was awarded Best Middle Eastern Restaurant.
Nevertheless, despite this transition, the 52-cover (front room) restaurant still retains its previous decor.
Although we were informed of plans of an apparent facelift in around 6-months time, its current colour scheme as it presently stands is uniquely dominated by one colour and one colour alone, gold!
In fact, this has to be the first restaurant we’ve reviewed where the entire ceiling is coloured as such.
Its peculiar adornment is fortified by mismatched wallpapers, with one side boasting a blue and gold pattern, and the other an entirely different gold patterned one.
Add to that the dated chandeliers, as well as the use of blue flourescent LEDs for the alcohol bar at the end, and its disjointed decor will certainly have you questioning which century you’re in. To be frank, that facelift cannot come soon enough!
On the plus side, however, Kookoo has outdoor decking that comfortably accommodates four tables, which will be ideal come the warmer months.
This rather unappealing looking Frittata tasted far better than it looked, in spite of a valient effort to show otherwise.
Soft textured and with a herby taste, the best way of having this is with the dollop of plain yoghurt along with the burst of sweetness delivered by the pomegranate seeds and sauce. There was also a touch of heat there too.
The Smoked Augergine split the crowd in that while one found its sweet smokiness to be strong, but not overly so, the other Lion believed it to be overpowering everything therein.
The earthy taste of the aubergine was really well tempered by the sweetness of the caramelised onions.
Although we all agreed that this was perhaps a little on the oily side.
As soft and as tender as you’d want, this plate of superbly cooked Spicy Chicken Liver curry was flavourous, with the chilli coming through immediately before lingering soothingly thereafter. The fresh sprig of mint provided a nice contrast too.
There was no indication though on the menu as to how spicy this would be. Given its strength, perhaps there should be.
These were small, measly pieces of salty tasting wings, which no amount of spice was going to solve.
This was thinly sliced and thin, period! What’s worse, it was an unseasoned piece of flavourless, dry and chewy meat, with the best thing being the charred tomato. Uninspired to say the least!
This Lamb Fillet in Pomegranate and Walnut Sauce faired better, with a mildly sweet marination.
The meat was a little on the chewy side, with certain parts evidently having an overly charred, acrid taste.
Moving on to this Saffron Chicken Skewer, then who would guessed that these tender pieces of ultra soft chicken were cooked in the same kitchen as the above!
The mellow flavour of saffron was distinct enough; but it was the absolutely tender and delicious flavour of the meat that enthralled us. Worth coming back for this alone, we’d say.
And a few words of laudation for the maestro who made these superb homemade sauces.
The Chilli was fruity, well textured, with a good amount of heat and a touch of mint, while the Garlic, though gentle in flavour, had a tangy-citrus taste to it.
Retaining that familiar soft-springiness so apparent of perfectly cooked prawns, these we had half marinated in chilli and the other non-chilli (for review, of course).
In the end, the non-chilli version were decent, with a mild fruity taste to them.
As for their chilli counterparts, then they had a marination of raw spices that simply hadn’t been cooked, resulting in a harsh aftertaste.
Although the fragrance of the mixed herb was good, taste-wise this turned out to be rather underwhelming.
While the meat was tender enough, the curry sauce had a peculiar watery-cum-stringy consistency.
A standard Chocolate Brownie that was essentially warmed up. A relatively crispy dry top and a semi-squidgy inside partnered with a scoop of vanilla.
An amazing naan bread here. Perfectly crispy which was neither too thin nor too thick. Addictive!
Nothing wrong with this plate of Saffron Rice.
A well made and well balanced orange and carrot juice.
- YES/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
- DISABLED FACILITIES
What's impressive is that it achieved this having gone through a rebranding earlier this year in January from Sarab's 'Taste of Persia' to the 'Grill & Seafood' venue it is now.
While the food was slightly above average, there's one dish we'd definitely recommend travelling for - the Saffron Chicken Skewer (Joojeh) - and one which perhaps the Kebab Awards might consider.
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