Up above the noise and bustle of Regent Street, behind windows that you’d never think to glance at, lies Cocoon, a pan-Asian restaurant so quiet that you’d be forgiven for curling into a ball and falling asleep in your nest-like arm chair.
Head chef Ricky Pang is aiming to remedy this however with the introduction of the speedy ‘Book a Bento Box’ service, whereby customers can order and pay in advance by phone and have their lunch set before them the minute they arrive. The restaurant’s rallying call is ‘reclaim your lunch hour’, the hope being that this will lure in the type of busy lunchtime diner who would normally just grab a sandwich and eat at their desk.
Diners may choose between four different bento boxes, all of which are accompanied by white miso soup, a pot of green or jasmine tea and a dessert of ice cream or sorbet. My friend and I went for the chicken yakitori and beef teriyaki bentos, leaving the vegetarian box and fish-based Japanese meals for another time.
As would be expected from a smart central London restaurant, the meat itself was very high quality, the chicken perfectly cooked and covered in rich satay sauce, the beef just the right amount of chewy. Each bento came with three good-sized skewers, enough to satisfy all but the hungriest carnivores. The egg fried rice that accompanied each bento was deliciously buttery, the baby bok choi crunchy and more-ish (in fact, we both could have done with more of it).
The other parts of the bento were less impressive. The duck and watermelon salad and mango and papaya Vietnamese spring rolls that came with my chicken were overly tart, the flavours not really working together. My friend found her crispy duck roll rather dry. And it was only once we’d left that we realised the waitress had neglected to offer us the dessert that comes with the meal.
Cocoon clearly considers itself a very classy place, and, to be fair, in some respects it is. Aside from the dessert blunder the service was very good: our waitress was polite and discreet and the food arrived promptly. However, while the interior designers have responded enthusiastically to the buzz word ‘cocoon’, making everything in the place round, cushioned and comfortable, the décor verges on the tacky in places.
All in all Cocoon is perfectly pleasant spot for a quick meal, but is more style than substance. Even with this nifty new bento menu I think they’re going to have trouble filling it at lunchtime.
The ‘Book a bento box’ lunch menu costs £15 plus a 12.5% discretionary service charge.
65 Regent Street
Tel: 020 7494 7600