Boy, it has been a long wait.
I have been dying to try the South Indian restaurant known as Cocum for many years now. I often work across the road on Castle Street and have to stare at it all evening, calling me. Tonight, my long wait was finally over and I managed to see what all the fuss is about with the Curry Crew 19's visit to Cocum.
Located next to the two juggernauts of Indian cuisine in Cambridge, both down Castle Street too (The Maharajah and Cafe Naz), Cocum offers something different with a selection of more traditional South Indian cuisine rather than the usual British Indian food you are probably used too in 95% of other Indian restaurants in the UK.
Upon entering we were warmly greeted by staff and seated at our table. The place looks small on the outside, and the inside is no exception. Though it can still sit a large party if need be. The places goes with the "green theme" of the outside of the restaurant with the decoration on the inside. The place is warm and cosy with no complains on the lay out or decoration of the place.
Upon looking at the menu we noticed that things were more expensive than traditional British Indian restaurants, though certainly cheaper than its only other rival in South Indian cuisine, the Rice Boat. Things like the mix pickle platter which is usually served along side poppadoms came to £2.95, which is something often offered for free in other places. Poppadoms were 50p each on top of that. Ouch!
That being said, the selection was impressive with 5 different selections of pickles, fish, vegetables and yogurt. Each one incredibly delicious and well prepared and presented. I was quite disappointed with the size of the portions. Personally I didnt think it was enough for me alone, especially sharing it with 8 people. We ordered two plates and it still ran out too early. Considering we had spent £6, and that didnt even include the poppadoms, I was quite unfulfilled.
When they took our orders we decided to try something different. A friend recommended the Masala Dosa, a flemented crepe of black grain lentils served with ginger flavoured potatoes and side sauces. The dish came to just under £6 and if anything was a fantastic novelty and incredibly fun to eat. The rich flavour, incredibly crackly texture with a creamy center really wow'ed everyone who tried a bit. The sauces were a nice touch though not really needed as there was so much flavour in the Dosa alone.
I will certainly be having this again and a great dish to share with friends. It was big enough to have as a main course or starters.
It took quite a while for our food to come out. We put this down to the restaurant being quite busy, which is always a good sign. Not to mention we were a reasonably large group. We ordered a fish Biriyani, which is traditionally served in my experience with a curry sauce. This one however, came with none and was just a rice dish. After seeing the look of disappointment on my friends face the waiter, obviously quite used to this from other customers, offered to give us a curry at no extra charge.
Ah, thats better!
The fish in the Biriyani was incredibly dry, though the rice itself tasted fantastic and full of flavour I think if anyone orders this to make sure they order some sort of sauce with it or they will be left disappointed.
Make sure you get the curry sauce with this dish as it is not included with the order.
Lamb Cheera Curry
I went for the Lamb Cheera Curry which was a sublime dish. The meat, something which I feel is often scrimped upon in a lot of restaurants because they think the sauce covers the taste and texture, was done to near perfection. The sauce was rich and full of flavour. It went down a treat and was the envy of the table. I couldnt recommend this enough, really!
The rice, which I am sad to say cost nearly £3, was of decent quality and of an average size. As you would expect for the price.
The plain naan was a very generous size and cut up in to four slices. It made the perfect companion to the Cheera Curry and was one of the better value dishes on the menu, though nothing you cannot order from any other Indian restaurant in town. I really enjoyed cleaning the sauce from my plate with them!
We were given some mid ranged hot towels in microwave packaging rather than the hot wet wipes I am seeing more and more now days. They did the job fine, though Cocum doesn't really serve anything hot enough to warrant using a hot towel but they are always nice to have.
Once we had finished, the staff were still too busy to take our plates away. We even had to wave them down to ask for the bill.
We got our bill and it came to a reasonable price, though again, more expensive than a regular Indian you are probably used too. Its worth noting that Cocum maybe more expensive than that the average "curry consumer" is used to, but it is also cheaper than its rival South Indian restuarant, The Rice Boat. So for what it does, it offers good value. Remember, this is different cuisine all together.
The service was friendly and of a respectable quality considering how busy it was. You can tell this place is very popular as it was packed. All the food tasted fantastic, if you ignore the fish being a little dry on the Biriyani, but I am just being picky here.
Its certainly a place which considers itself more of a delicacy rather than the usual spicy slop in a bucket we are all used too. I highly recommend it for anyone who is a little tired of Indian food and fancy trying something a little different. I especially recommend the Masala Dosa and Cheera Curry and Lamb. The quality was probably a little shy of The Rice Boat though it is noticeably cheaper. A very good balance of quality, value and cuisine.
Good work guys!
See you again soon!