Coquille | Dianping
Address: 蒙自路29号 – 29 Mengzi Rd next to Scarpetta (卢湾区 Luwan District)
Date visited: 2013.02
Total bill: RMB¥3,622 for seven people
Will return: Yes
What to get:
Too many but if I had to prioritize, it is still a lengthy list:
– New Zealand venison tartare
– Foie gras au torchon
– Mussels Marinieres or Mussels Basquaises
– Grilled pork chop 1kg
– Yuzu-lemon tart au citron
– Chocolate pot de creme
John Liu’s latest venture, named Coquille, is a French and seafood bistro. Coquille means “shell” (like an oyster shell) in French. Coquille is John’s second child located right next to his firstborn and my beloved Scarpetta. In terms of their offerings, there is not much overlap except perhaps some oysters and staff. The two are very different and each is good in its own right.
– Update: please also see my second visit for more dishes! –
This month’s Shanghai Girl Eats dinner (that just means I drag a group of people out to eat where I please and subject them to
torture my ramblings and photographing) involved 7 people, 19 dishes, and countless plate changes over 3 hours. We shared everything family style. Gluttony at its finest. What I previously said about Shanghai girls being–how do I put this gently–haters in my Henkes brunch was just icing on the cake. What happens when I get 6 other Shanghainese people at the table with me? The most high maintenance haters in town at one table. Expectations were high and Coquille delivered. Now that’s quite a feat.
As for the damage to your wallet, expect to pay RMB¥600 per person if you want the works and wine or champagne in your glass but as with any nice restaurant, it is possible to eat for less if you have more self restraint than us. You can definitely get away with RMB¥300 per person if you order moderately priced items (the RMB¥928 caviar is out of the question) and refrain from alcoholic tendencies.
Let us begin.
Smoked yellowtail tartare (RMB¥178) with cucumber, apple, puffed wild rice, coconut milk, lime
Tender yellowtail contrasted by light crunch from the rice puffs and crispy vegetables. A slighty creamy finish from the yellowtail.
New Zealand venison tartare (RMB¥218) with pickled pear, pine oil, squab egg, crispy shallot, juniper vinaigrette
The “bambi tartare” as we like to call it. I didn’t know I was eating deer before I took a bite. I didn’t know I was eating deer after I took a bite. I still didn’t know I was eating deer after remarking how tasty it was. And then I found out I ate deer and I was like :O. I would have expected this to be rather gamey but on the contrary, it was very fresh and flavorful. This was a pleasant discovery and a table favorite. I highly recommend this–this is the tartare to get.
Australian Wagyu M5 beef tartare (RMB¥168) with fines herb, caper, quail egg, thyme crostini, cognac
Beef tartare and I are rarely ever on the same page and this didn’t make us closer. This had a slight gamey taste to it.
Pork trotter croquette salad (RMB¥118) with chicory, poached egg, shiitake mushroom sherry vinaigrette
The croquette was filled with stringy pork, which added a nice warm element to the salad.
Foie gras au torchon (RMB¥158) with black sesame-honey crumble, mango, kumquat, brioche
Melt in your mouth foie gras is always welcome at my table. This is exactly how foie gras should taste. The sesame sugar crisp worked well to provide a sweetness to the savoury.
Escargots (RMB¥88) with red curry, lemongrass-ginger butter, kaffir lime, cilantro
Escargots are typically cooked with garlic butter, wine, and some garnishes but Coquille puts a twist on it with red curry sauce. Hot off the plate and super good.
Oven roasted bone marrow (RMB¥138) with red wine braised short rib ragout, petites herbes salad, grilled levain, fleur de sel
We all fought for the bone marrow. Whoever supplies Coquille and Scarpetta with bone marrow must have some winning cows because we get huge ones every time. It also comes with a side dish containing small cubes of beef in a rich stew; you can use bread from the warm bread basket to soak up the sauce.
Moules – Mussels
Moules is a dish that typically consists of mussels and fries. So we were presented with not one, not two, but three plates of mussels cooked in different styles and pomme frites (RMB¥48 for regular; RMB¥78 for truffled) to soak up the sauce with. The warm bread basket is also good for sauce soaking!
Mussels Basquaises (RMB¥198) with chorizo, red bell pepper, tomato, white wine
The chorizo and peppers added a slight kick to the sauce and we liked it.
Mussels Indochine (RMB¥188) with yellow curry, coconut, fresh chili, cilantro
Curry flavor sometimes works for me (like the red curry escargots above) but sometime it doesn’t. The flavor wasn’t bad, but the table liked these the least out of the three.
Mussels Marinieres (RMB¥198) with garlic leek, fennel, bacon, pernod
The sauce was very herby due to the cilantro, which could be a good or bad thing depending on your personal taste. My side of the table liked the garlic white wine sauce but the other half of the table didn’t like it, which was fine by me because we got to keep this on our side of the table. No joke we were actually spooning out the wine sauce and drinking it directly with no shame.
My table must have gone through four or five bread baskets by this point and I kept telling them to not stuff themselves but it was futile. At the end of the mussels, they were already full and thought dinner was over while I mentally facepalmed myself.
Plats Principaux – Mains
And then came every animal on Old MacDonald’s farm. While Coquille is known as a seafood bistro, there is more than enough meat on the menu to cater to different taste preferences in your group.
Wild-caught Icelandic black cod (RMB¥238) with Hokkaido scallop, tiger prawn, red clam rouille, sauce “bouillabaisse”
The cod texture was light, which was a stark contrast to the heavy and buttery cod dishes I am used to (such as the truffle cod at Mr and Mrs Bund). The reason this cod is lean is because it is a wild, robust fish that is constantly swimming. The bouillabaisse stew is actually cooked separated from the cod and put together at the end, which gives the broth a very clean taste. I recommend this to people who like lean tasting fish.
“Bavette” Steak Frites (RMB¥298) with glazed pearl onion, rosemary-beef jus
This Australian M3 steak was really juicy and pink on the inside.
Crispy duck leg confit (RMB¥218) with white bean-pork sausage cassoulet
Crispy skin with succulent meat. The duck meat was pink. What is this sorcery? Curing salt, we were told.
It came with pork rinds that could use a little more seasoning.
Grilled pork chop 1kg (RMB¥428) with caramelized apple, turnip, pork jus
This was the unanimous favorite main dish at the table. The pork had a hint of sweeness, which pleased my 南方 Southern Chinese palate (we like some sweets in our savory foods and the North likes straight up savory). This would cater to those who prefer a leaner cut than the fatty sparerib (my love) at Scarpetta.
The baby turnips on the side were deliciously refreshing due to the high water content.
All four desserts from the dessert menu were generously comped on the house. A big thank you to Coquille!
Yuzu-lemon tart au citron (RMB¥78) with coconut-pine nut sable, meringue.
If I had actually picked my own dessert rather than have all four handed to me, this would have not been picked because I usually hate lemony desserts (desserts are chocolatey and creamy in my world). BUT, oh dear, BUT, this turned out to be the best dessert of the night. All seven of us were unanimously ooh-ing and ahh-ing at first bite and I wasn’t the only one at the table who thought fruity desserts were the stepchildren of desserts. Making something that I don’t normally like taste good, let alone awesome, is not an easy task. Applause. You have to try this dessert.
Chocolate pot de creme (RMB¥78) with whipped creme, fresh berries
It was an epic battle for first place dessert between this and the lemon tart and as much as I am inclined towards chocolatey desserts, I loved both equally in different ways.
Rose-lychee sorbet (RMB¥68) with vanilla biscuit
This was third runner up after the yuzu-lemon tart and chocolate pot de creme (which was really a tie and just depends on if you are feeling lemony or chocolatey for dessert). Fruity sorbet is not my cup of tea for fulfilling my second stomach at the end of a meal but it was yammy because it tasted like champagne.
Banana creme caramel (RMB¥68) with five-spice roasted pineapple
None of us liked this, which was a pity because we all expected this to taste the best. Creme caramel is basically a flan; something about the texture just seemed a little too rubbery for me. I like pineapples but I didn’t like having pineapples in this. One of my friends pointed out the irony that this was probably the dessert most of us would have wanted to order and none of us liked whereas no one would have thought to get the yuzu-lemon tart and all of us loved it.
So what did I learn in the end from this dessert tasting? It doesn’t matter what ingredients go into the damn food, it’s what the chef does with it that matters in the end. Maybe, just maybe, I will try more lemony desserts now.