Food : Trivandrum Rating : 2/5 Stars

Coco Bongo – First Visit – Biriyani

Yesterday, I got the chance to visit the restaurant Coco Bongo at Pattom, Trivandrum… I had been seeing a bunch of posts praising the Biriyani that they serve here and so since I happened to be nearby, stopped by for lunch ๐Ÿ™‚

For those who may not be aware, the restaurant is located right next to the gate of St. Mary’s school and it above the Chicking outlet over there… Contrary to the way leading to the restaurant, I found the restaurant to be incredibly clean and shiny with a look that reminded me of a starred place… I was alone in there as I walked in, but soon found the place to be packed with practically everyone going for the Biriyani… ๐Ÿ™‚

The menu here definitely a multi-cuisine one with options ranging from Sandwiches and Burgers to Steaks ๐Ÿ™‚ But as mentioned before, I was there to check out the much revered Biriyani of theirs… Also, since I was in the mood for some soup, went for their Sweet Corn Chicken Soup as well, along with their Chicken Biriyani…

So, after about 20 mins or so, I was served the soup… The Sweet Corn Chicken Soup is something I have been seeing in practically all restaurant menus throughout my life and is one of my favourites since its usually the one soup thats not spicy and rather has a pretty vocal sweet component to it… Of-course the Cream of Chicken came later ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyways, it was light and slightly creamy, made with Chicken stock, Sweet Corn and Egg white drop… It also had some shredded chicken white meat as well in it and was served as shown in the below pics…

Now coming to the taste, it was indeed sweet and the flavours of the Chicken stock and the egg really came thru and the pieces of chicken in it were cooked perfectly… As can be seen fro the above pics, there is no shortage of Egg white in it… However, what I found lacking in this is the seasoning (Any Sodium Police in the house?)… I ended up having to put in quite a lot of salt and pepper from the shakers on the table to be able to enjoy the soup… Once I put in enough of those, the soup tasted excellent… ๐Ÿ™‚

Once I was done with the soup, the Biriyani arrived… I was indeed surprised at how the Biriyani looked when it arrived… I mean just look at the pics… The shape is just perfect and smooth… To be frank, what the shape reminded me of was the stone they use in the sport known as Curling in the Winter Olympics (feel free to look it up)… Anyways, the biriyani arrived on a plate topped with some fried onions and a couple of fried cashew nuts and was served along with a small cup of the Vegetable Raita and some Pickle made out of Dates… The Biriyani was found to be made in the Malabari style with the aromatic small grain rice with the meat that was pre-fried before cooking into the Dum…

Regarding this Biriyani, first of all, the flavours seem to perfectly match that of the Biriyani thats sold by the nearby bakery named Square One and so I am not entirely sure if thats just a coincidence that it tasted exactly the same (only difference is in the rice used)… Maybe the owner can clarify at some point… So, basically loved the taste of the masala used and the rice was indeed of the aromatic kind… The masala was of mild spice level with a perfect sweet to spicy ratio with the tastes of the ginger-garlic paste and the garam masala (with some extra cinnamon, cardamom, clove and the maze spice) along with the taste of caramelised onions and there was a slight hint of ghee in it as well… The flavours worked incredibly well with the aromatic rice… The Chicken as I mentioned appeared to have been pre-fried as can be seen… The Raita that was served had onions, tomatoes and green chillies and the curd was indeed fresh as in, not turned sour yet… The dates pickle was awesome… Intense flavour of the date and chillies throughout making it incredibly sweet and spicy at the same time… Both the raita and the pickle worked incredibly well with the Biriyani…

Now, unfortunately I must mention the negatives as well… Regarding the restaurant service, I would suggest the owner give some training to the staff because, two things were observed:

  1. The staff looked absolutely clueless when I walked in… Thats is, felt like they were confused and weren’t expecting any customers even though it was close to 12:30pm… [I hope it was not because of my appearance… lol… ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜› ]
  2. I was never served water to drink until I ran out of patience and asked for it… This is not a good thing to do especially when you only have one customer in the restaurant… So, clearly being understaffed is not an excuse… And towards the end of my visit, when the room became packed, I looked around and observed that not a single table was served water… Not sure why this basic courtesy was being ignored…

Now coming to the food, I don’t have any complaints about the waiting time, but I did find a couple of issues with the Biriyani that I got…

  1. The first is that as I mentioned earlier, the Chicken looked pre-fried, which is actually fine as there is a real style of making the biriyani where people partially cook the meat by frying, essentially to the point of just searing the outside and then have the meat cook all the way thru in the Dum… But here, the problem is that it looks to be fried completely and when I tried eating the chicken pieces, I found it to be overcooked, to the point of it being dry and tough to chew… Chicken when cooked properly has to be incredibly soft that at the slightest touch with a fork or a spoon, the meat has to just slide and fall off the bone… As you can see from the closeup pic below, its clear that the meat is dry and has shrunk (you can see the meat fiber curled up) which only happens when you overcook the meat… It was a bit disappointing because, the flavours of the masala and rice like I mentioned before was just perfect… The Biriyani came with a breast piece and a shoulder with wing piece… Both ended up being overcooked, with the breast piece being the worse of the two as its the part of the chicken that cooks the fastest… I seriously hope that this was an isolated incident and won’t happen again…
  2. The other problem is that I found the Biriyani to be more greasy than most of the options I have had… The pic below shows the amount of oil traces left at the bottom of the plate which should give an indication as to how much oil content was there in the Biriyani… The whole point of Dum cooking is that you get a healthy way of cooking by locking in all the steam and flavours and this doesn’t actually need any oil to be poured in… At best, you need just a minimum amount (teaspoons max) if you really want the taste of the fat being added (e.g. ghee… Can’t really understand the point of adding the almost tasteless refined oil)…

Anyways, even with the pitfalls mentioned, hoping that this was a bad day, I do hope to go back there again on a regular/good day to be able to try again… From what I understand regarding the place from a friend of mine, there are enough items in their menu which I really should be trying… So, hopefully will be doing the same soon…

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