KoKoMMo; The shack Chennai has been waiting for


For a city with a beach, and not just any beach but the second longest in the world, Chennai is woefully short of great sea food restaurants. By a long shot. Another thing that it is short of? Beach shacks. Whatever the reason, it's difficult to justify. A few fine dine ones tote the shores and a few more with the same masala on all the dishes make up the remaining. Till Kokommo came along. While Chennai is slowly, albeit quite a trek down towards Mahabalipuram, getting its share of beach resorts, Intercontinental Chennai Mahabalipuram, which got to the seaside resort party late, is the first to jump into the shack scene. Successfully.

While there is an identity crisis for the restaurant, this one is the real deal as far as a proper beach restaurant goes. There are no high stools with a barman and a chance to meet strangers. There is a shack, in theory, but that is more visual than anything else. But then, there are tables on the beach. On the sand. With full, unobstructed views of the beach. On a full moon night, like when we were there, totally, I mean, totally unobstructed view of nature at its best. There is nothing between you and the water.

The menu is also a victim of identity crisis. Does a place like this serve you the simplest grilled stuff? Or being on site a 5 star hotel, do you serve a dose of fine dine and steaks and the likes? Kokommo chose the tough road to bring the best of both worlds. The grilled jumbo prawns, lobsters and medium done steaks, share the menu with simple fried potatoes, grilled broccoli and fish tacos.

Adding further confusion, is the chef. A pastry chef trained under the watchful eyes of the executive chef, who then goes on to work in a 1 star Michelin restaurant in New York, who then handles the baton at beach shack! Oh, he's all of 24 years old.

As the food arrives, the method to the madness unveils. And all of the confusion comes together to create a brand new kind of beach restaurant, that Chennai finally gets.  The young chef, in his attempt to mix a beach shack menu with the requirements of a five star hotels has tinkered with flavours and has largely succeeded.

The Podi Baguettes are a case in point. Tiny French baguettes doused in a healthy dose of our humble idly podi. While it doesn't sound appealing at first, the taste buds are at ease. And all four pieces are dunked away quietly. The humble looking jumbo prawns arrive. But one bite and there is nothing humble about it. This dish brings together what the restaurant probably stands for, a mix of fine dine with a healthy dose of rustic. Cooked to perfection (not the rubbery prawns that are representative of most beach shacks), the dose of garlic hits you pleasantly. The lobster that follows takes the menu confusion a notch up, with its mushrooms and asparagus, together the two making up the best dishes of the day. The south spiced quail wasn't far behind and if not for the scorching heat, is a dish to look up to, with its heady spice and nothing else on the plate to distract from its flavour.

Not all dishes made their mark though. The medium done beef steak, didn't belong there. Or I guess, the chef needs to work a little harder to get it right. Very quickly it became chewy, so I'm not sure if the sea side is a great way to serve this. The scallop polichadhu, served on the table with a portable grill was a total miss. To begin with, I love the scallops the way I'm used to, which is to just cook the sides, but here it was, well, cooked to death! Pun intended. The polichadhu masala simply didn't belong to the scallop. The mustard spiced broccoli, with its Bengali flavours and quite close to our Bengali chef was a little too salty and overpoweringly mustard-y for this South Indian's tongue.

The chef almost redeemed himself with the dessert, the Textures of Chocolate. Almost, because there was one element which upset the otherwise beautiful balance of the dish and the same texture for two different flavours of chocolate didn't make it a killer dish, but that doesn't take away anything from it.  With its beautiful home made ice cream, thin crisps of chocolate, some dark chocolate served as is along with the cream, made it a fitting dessert.

Young Chef Saha is to watch out for. KoKoMMO is to watch out for. Add a few high chairs and small tweaks to the menu and this will be tough restaurant to beat for anyone remotely close to ECR, either on the drive or to those who live along the stretch.

A meal for two without alcohol will set you back by a couple of thousands. 


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Grub Waz: KoKoMMo; The shack Chennai has been waiting for
KoKoMMo; The shack Chennai has been waiting for
Grub Waz
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