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Thursday, July 18, 2024

COCA steamboat

Let’s take a dine-in at Coca Steamboat today. The establishment offers a culinary journey known for its flavourful and hearty hotpot meals. that seamlessly blends rich Thai hotpot with modern dining flair.

Dine-in Coca steamboat.
Let’s take a dine in at Coca steamboat.

In today’s busy hotpot scene largely inspired by Sichuan mala dishes, Coca Steamboat has stood the test of time as one of Singapore’s first hotpot restaurants, this is long before the likes of Hai Di lao or even Beauty in the pot. On some background and history, Coca Steamboat was established in 1957 by Mr. Srichai Phanphensophon and Mrs. Patama Phanphensophon in Bangkok, Thailand.

They opened its first Singapore outlet in 1987, and tad has a reputation of being a pioneering the hotpot scene. Today, with multiple outlets across Singapore, Coca Steamboat continues to uphold its commitment to quality and tradition, offering a dining experience that is both nostalgic and contemporary dining with the times.

Welcome to Coca steamboat!
Welcome to Coca steamboat!

Interestingly, the restaurant’s name, “Coca,” combines the Mandarin words for “delicious” and “fun”. Also, Hotpot is also known as steamboat in Asian terms, involving cooking food at the table in a simmering pot of broth. It is ideal for group dining with family or friends. I remembered first had Coca since the early 2000s when they their Nee Ann City branch is one of their oldest branches here in Singapore. They used to operate on the 3rd floor main atrium area sitting between Tower A and B. Today, they are located on the upper 4th floor of the mall which we are checking out today.

An extensive Thai hotpot with local flair

A serving spread.
A serving spread.

Furthermore, their restaurant offerings is a buffet one, offering an all-you-can-eat experience. You order your dishes via a tablet device where staff will promptly your items on a separate trolley tray so as not to cluster your dining table. They offer a choice of a standard al-la-caret buffet at a flat rate and drinks with additional premium menu items you can order on top of your base buffet. A choice of premium items with clearly marked prices so you won’t accidentally order additional paid items.

Al-la carte ordering tablet
Al-la carte buffet ordering tablet.

Setting the stage is a choice of 6 main soup bases comprising of double-boiled soups, Hua Diao, Collagen and Thai-inspired Tom Yum. Wrapping up are Sichuan-inspired Mala and Tomato broths. You should choose a clear light broth if you wish for your ingredient’s natural flavours of the ingredients to shine.

COCA steamboat Mala and chicken broth
Mala and chicken broth stock. Simmering double stock pot on induction cooker

The heart of the hotpot experience at Coca Steamboat is the broth. Recommended soup broths include collagen chicken and mala broth, with the latter an answer to the wildly popular Sichuan style hotpot and keeping with the times and competition brought upon by Hai di lao and Beauty in the Pot.

While, the Sichuan spicy broth caters to heat lovers with its fiery and numbing sensation. Also, you can’t have a Thai hotpot without Tom Yum Broth. Their tom yum broth is a spicy and tangy option that adds a lot of character to the hotpot. Its bold flavours come from lemongrass, lime, and chili, giving the ingredients cooked in it a vibrant and zesty taste.

Recommended Buffet Items

Items to go for be their seafood and meat selections, paired with the extensive selection of greens such as leafy vegetables and mushrooms. The steamboat’s menu is rather extensive, offering a variety of fresh ingredients and flavourful broths. Also, the meat offerings are equally impressive, comprising of thinly sliced beef, pork, and chicken that cook quickly and absorb the rich flavours of the broth.

Fresh meat selections
Fresh meat selections and staple steamboat item.

Recommended meats include choices of meat staples such as thinly sliced beef, a standout choice. The thin slices cook rapidly in the simmering broth, becoming tender and flavourful. The marbling in the beef ensures a juicy and rich taste, especially when dipped in the house-special spicy or sesame sauce.

Speaking of sauces, the buffet also includes an array of dipping sauces, served at a counter. Also, you can customize the flavours based on your choosing. Sauce recommendations includes their tangy Thai-style chili sauce, savoury sesame sauce, and the house-special spicy sauce are crowd favourites. Alternatively, you can just go with plain old chicken rice garlic chili, you can’t go wrong with that too. On top of that too are free-flow of choice of yuzu or water chestnut drink.

Yuzu or water chestnut drinks.
Choice of yuzu or water chestnut drinks.

Wrapping up select meat items be their Pork Belly and Chicken Slices. Their Pork belly slices are another favourite. They are fatty and flavourful with bacon, providing a rich, melt-in-your-mouth texture. The pork and offals, when cooked in the spicy Sichuan broth, the pork belly absorbs the heat and spices, resulting in a savoury and slightly spicy bite that is incredibly satisfying. Also, I found their chicken slices are lean and tender, absorbing the flavours of the broth while remaining juicy. They are versatile and pair well with a variety of dipping sauces.

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Self-help condiments sauces
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Dessert selections
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Ice cream

Try their seafood clayfish and salmon slices

Furthermore, Coca Steamboat seafood selection is particularly noteworthy, and also worth mentioning. The selection of daily-sourced prawns, clams, clayfish fish slices though not extensive in selection, the ingredients are fresh and has a quality feel to it.

Crayfish and mussels
Crayfish and mussels

Moreover, I recommending going for their fresh seafood selection comprising of prawns and crayfish which the latter are tad like mini lobsters, as well as mussels and clams. The Clams also add a briny, oceanic flavour to the hotpot. Also, they are tender and juicy, releasing a delicate seafood essence into the broth as they cook. The clams are a delightful addition, especially for those who enjoy the fresh taste of the sea. Also, the prawns at Coca Steamboat are plump and fresh. When cooked in the broth, they become succulent and sweet, absorbing the flavors of the soup while retaining their natural sweetness and slightly firm texture.

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Pork slices
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Free flow of Crayfish
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Bamboo clams

Additionally, I particularly liked the Salmon Fish Slices. The fish slices, typically from a white fish like snapper, are thinly cut and cook quickly in the hotpot. They are tender and flaky, with a mild flavour that pairs well with both the clear and herbal broths. You are advised o cook the fish slices quickly before they disintegrate into the soup, which makes fishing them out quite a challenge.

Interesting Fish and meat pastes

The fish slices offer a clean and delicate taste that complements other ingredients in the pot. Also, a highlight item is their meat paste, served on long plastic sticks. You have a choice of beef and fish paste of which Coca calls their “Fortune Fish paste”. When segmented into your soup cooks with the consistency of fish balls. Also, I found the meats also are best paired with fried rice, or their and instant noodles as staples.

Meat and fish paste
Meat and fish paste served on plastic straw holders.

Furthermore, if you are a vegetable lover, you will appreciate the assortment of leafy greens, assorted mushrooms, and tofu. It provides for a balance from the meats and seafoods. Also, besides adding a dash of colour, vegetables like spinach, bok choy, and lettuce are perfect for balancing the richness of the meats and seafood. They cook quickly and adds a fresh, crisp texture and flavours to the hotpot.

Coca fried rice.
Best paired with fried rice.

Also, I particularly liked the mushrooms such as shiitake, enoki, and oyster mushrooms. They do add a wonderful umami flavour to the hotpot, adding depth and richness to each bite. Also, the different textures of the mushrooms, especially the chewy Shitakes provide an interesting contrast to the meats and seafood in your hotpot.

COCA steamboat Price and Value

On value, Coca’s regular buffet costs S$52 for adults and S$56 on weekends. This puts Coca price more expensive than budget hotpots like Goro Goro, but cheaper range in similar quality offerings like Hai Di Lao, which also costs in the $50+/pax range for their Al-la-carte options, which much lesser food quantities. Notably, Coca also offers value meals starting at $22.90/adult ($28.90 weekends), putting Coca on the same price range as Kim Korean BBQ, Goro Goro Korean BBQ, albeit with a much reduced menu with half the seafood options.

Coca double stock
That wraps up our dine in here at Coca.

Wrapping with service, the staff is attentive and friendly. Food is also served promptly after ordering from your tablet. Also, the ambiance at Coca Steamboat is both modern and traditional, with soft lighting, comfortable seating creating a cosy environment. The restaurant is mostly quiet, especially for weekdays, making it a nice place from the crowded hotpot scene or when you had enough Hai Di Lao fatigue. It is tad an ideal place for social gatherings with friends or family.

All in all, that wraps up our dine-in here at Coca Steamboat. It offers a dining experience that tad seamlessly blends tradition with modernity. With an impressive quality buffet selection of seafood, meats, vegetables, with popular items include the succulent prawns, tender beef slices, and a variety of fish balls and dumplings. Its tad commitment to quality ingredients, flavourful broths, and excellent service makes it a standout choice for anyone seeking an authentic and enjoyable hotpot experience.


This review is not sponsored by the establishment nor did they provide any editorial input or reimbursements into the content and outcome of this review. All meals were paid for in full out of my own pocket as a regular and anonymous patron.

Verdict:

Must Go! | Actually pretty Good | Worth Trying | Shortlist Optionally | Should Avoid

COCA steamboat Makan Place Locality Map

COCA @ Takashimaya S.C.
Takashimaya Shopping Centre
391 Orchard Rd, #04-23, Singapore 238872
Opening Hours: 11:30 am–3 pm, 6–10:30 pm daily

 

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