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The Tham brothers’ KOKO flies south to Bengaluru!

December 17, 2023

The Asian bar that has been one of Mumbai’s hautest nightspots for seven years, is all set to brings its bevy of beautifully crafted beverages and alluring KOKO aesthetic to the garden city. Priya Pathiyan reports.


After seven years of impressing Mumbai’s bar brigade with its uniquely Asian cocktails, KOKO has just opened an outpost in Bengaluru. Brothers Ryan and Keenan Tham, whose Pebble Street Hospitality is also behind the successful chain that is Foo, are bringing their ‘grand’ (that’s what KOKO means in Cantonese!) vision to the garden city with a spectacularly done up 12,000-sq ft space spread across three storeys. The building is located on the Old Airport Road, which boasts other premium properties such as the Leela Palace Bengaluru and the Prestige Leela Residences.


A subtle and sophisticated entrance, as is the KOKO way. Image: Courtesy KOKO.


The sunlit ground floor al fresco area with a beautiful, conservatory-inspired entryway, is perfect for Bengaluru’s wonderful weather. The first floor is where an exclusive bar called KOKO Privé and the very private KOKO suite allow for celebrations and gatherings away from the public eye. But we think that it’s the terrace, with its elegant cabanas and Asian motifs, will be where Bengaluru will congregate for that relaxed meal and convivial cocktail. Or three.


The al fresco areas are very appealing. Image: Courtesy KOKO.


The cuisine is innovative Cantonese and Japanese cuisine crafted by the same stellar Chef Eric Sifu and his well-trained team. What you’ll enjoy along with your drinks will be their Black Rice Edamame rolls, Hamachi Maki, or posh dumplings like the Lobster & Caviar Dumpling, or Lobster Truffle Wonton.


But we know you’ll be heading there to check out the beverage menu and here’s what to expect. Apart from all the premium and luxury spirits and wines, there are 22 different cocktails to choose from! In a climate where bar managers are paring down their offerings in a less-is-more approach, KOKO’s more is more mentality is quite welcome too, especially since they manage to make every drink taste quite special.


Gorgeous interiors in every space display the same KOKO ethos as Mumbai. Images: Courtesy KOKO.


From the premium options, the Bombyx Mori is the one to go for… think flavours such as Bombay Sapphire gin infused with mulberry tea, saffron syrup, pomegranate molasses! Of the classics, our personally favourite has always been the KOKO Negroni, which again has that added mulberry tartness.


From their Top 10, almost like a greatest hits compilation, is their Tom Yum Cup, which KOKO regulars make a beeline for. A take on the soup of the same name, this chilled vodka cocktail blends Absolut with madeira, galangal, lemongrass, lime, Thai chilli syrup, and kaffir lime in a way that has you simply slurping them up.


Some of their famous cocktails that will now wow Bengaluru: (From l-r) Tom Yum Cup, Miso Caliente, and Bombyx Mori. Images: Courtesy KOKO.


And then there are the KOKO collabs, which have excited the cocktail circuit most. Of the two by Yao Lu from Shanghai’s The Union Trading Company, we love the Miso Caliente, which adds Japanese zing and zest to Dewars 12 YO with a red miso paste, chili tincture, dried nori, with lime, and honey syrup. Since this is KOKO’s new southern address, perhaps the Muzzle Flash, originally by Lukas Kauffman of Singapore’s 28 Hongkong Street, may fit the bill, with its ‘gunpowder’ cordial, which has a hit of podi along with Kinobi, and a chilli tincture.

A taste of ooru in Namma Bengaluru, we think.


KOKO Bengaluru
Address: KOKO, Prestige Icon, Near Leela Palace, Bengaluru | Timings: Noon to four pm, seven pm to one am | Contact: +91 9844194747 | Instagram: @kokorestaurants

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