It’s a brave decision to open a new food place in the middle of all this.
Slap bang in the middle of the weird hybrid Stirchley / Selly Oak / Selly Park area of Brum is Raddlebarn Road, host to the Country Girl, Paprika, the Dolphin Chippy and now Cocobab taking over the premises known as Tarafdars.
And I’m so glad it’s here. There’s not many Korean restaurants or takeaways in Birmingham, they’re mainly in the City Centre, huddling next to Chinatown with two others on the main student strip of Bristol Road.
The name, Cocobab, is a merger of Coco for chicken and Bab for rice, which is just the start of their menu.
I’m a big fan of Korean cuisine and when I saw that there was a new place just up the road from our new home, I’ve been chomping at the bit for their opening.
The menu is solid, with a numbering system for those whose Korean (like mine) isn’t pronounceable. You can order online or via their App (iOS and Android depending on your flavour of mobile).
We wanted to try a variety of dishes so we ordered:
- Hameul Pajeon – Prawn, Squid and Mussel Korean Style Pancake with Spring Onion
- Japchae (Popcorn Chicken) – Korean Style Glass Noodles in a sweet Garlic Soy Sauce with Vegetables and topped with Popcorn Chicken
- Korean Kimchi Burger and Chips – 8oz Korean Style Beef Burger seasoned with Garlic and Soy Sauce topped with Lettuce, Cheese, Onion, Tomato, Fried Kimchi and Gochujang Mayo.
- Side Dish Set (5 pieces – served cold)
- Fried Seaweed Stem
- Fried Fishcake with Soy Sauce
- Egg Roll with Vegetable
- Fried Tofu with Soy Sauce
The Hameul Pajeon was served in a pizza box with a nice little vinaigrette (?) dipping sauce. The omelette was fluffy and packed with spring onion throughout, which added a nice counterbalance to the seafood. The mussels were the main flavour but the prawn came through on the back end. There was no chewiness to the seafood and it came together as a really nice summer dish.
Wifey had the Japchae Glass noodles topped with Popcorn Chicken. Oh crispy little morsels of joy! Those popcorn chicken bites were a world away from those soggy balls of depression that come in limp cardboard from the Colonel. These were delicious crispy on the outside, moist inside and delightful.
The glass noodles gave a really nice difference from your standard Ramen or Udon. Sweet and packed with soy with crunchy veg, Wifey described it as perfect comfort food.
If you’ve ever watched How I Met Your Mother there’s a specific episode where Marshall goes on an epic hunt across New York to find his perfect burger. He can’t remember the name of the place but he knows when he finds it.
I can understand now. This burger was heavenly: beef, bacon, cheese, kimchi, onion, lettuce, tomato and gochujang mayo. It just works so well, a full symphony of flavour. The burger is the star centrepiece, tender, big, fat juicy. It’s all you could ever want in a burger. I was sorely tempted to order another. It’s definitely going on my regular list. Hats off Cocobab, I can see why it’s in the specials section.
The only downside were the fries, which were competent, but paled in comparison to the burger. A touch of zing like a sprinkle of gochugaru seasoning would really perk them up.
The Fried Seaweed Stem was similar in texture to the glass noodle with a little more crunch. The frying had tempered what can usually be such a strong overpowering taste, such as Nori, but this was much milder. The Egg Roll was very light but still with a solid crunch from the veg. The Fishcake was spicy and might be a tad strong for some tastes, a little tempering with the garlic soy would go well. The Fried Tofu was the star of the sides – well cooked fluffy inside with a crispy outside. The Kimchi is fantastic and so it should be. A great kimchi is a beautiful thing and it’s at the heart of Korean cuisine.
For a place open less than a week, we were very impressed and will be returning soon. It’s a fantastic new gem to have so close by and it’ll be a regular addition to our choices of takeaway. If you are in their delivery area or fancy popping by to collect Cocobab is a solid recommendation from me. You’d be Loco En El Coco to miss it, Bab.
Where: Cocobab, 23 Raddlebarn Road, Birmingham, B29 6HH