The restaurant scene in Istanbul is dominated by traditional tavernas and cafes serving delicious but repetitive meatballs. Cok Cok is a rare novelty in the city offering fresh and flavoursome Thai food for those needing a break from the local fare. A firm favourite with adventurous locals and tourists, Cok Cok was recently voted best ethnic restaurant in Turkey.
Located on a street corner in Beyoğlu, this discreet venue is relaxed and instantly welcoming. Diners sit at simple wooden tables and chat animatedly over a chilled glass of wine. We enjoyed the low-key atmosphere as we anticipated our Thai feast. Starters were piping hot from the kitchen, fresh plump chicken and vegetable spring rolls with the lightest crispy pastry and grilled chicken satay with peanut sauce were a delight.
A sweet and exotic red curry arrived next, steaming and fragrant with a medium spiciness rather than an overpowering chilli hit. Rice noodles with prawns: roasted peanuts, bean sprouts, dried chillies, tofu, eggswas a mild and moreish plate of contrasting textures and tastes. Our favourite though was the irresistible fried chicken with seasonal vegetables, garlic and black pepper sauce: a pile of crispy coated chicken with an aromatic peppery flavour.
The desserts were a big success too, and with my social media followers who liked the photo I posted. The battered banana looked devilishly rich covered in shaved dark chocolate, but it tasted light and gooey coated in a thin crunchy topping, sweet and fruity with a salty kick. The homemade ginger ice-cream was the perfect refreshing final course for me, spicy and creamy. I accompanied my dessert with a traditional thick Turkish coffee, which has a tendency to look and taste a bit like mud, but this time was very drinkable especially with a touch of sugar.
With the devoted Thai chef Miss Nuch in the kitchen, this Asian cuisine, looks and tastes authentic. It would be a success on any city street but in Istanbul it positively thrives, a completely unique restaurant.
More information and book here: www.cokcok.com.tr/