The buzz of this mysterious local concept erupted overnight. Select people all over Kuwait were receiving a goody bag filled with delectable, whimsically named homemade chocolate bars containing the most unimaginably unique ingredients, little treats like caramel cups topped with marshmallow swirls and edible beading, and tins of caramel filled, powdered chocolate truffles. Where did such bounty come from?
Meet Rococoa: one of Kuwait’s newest concepts, that’s sure to steal the hearts of chocolate-lovers and savory gourmands alike. The Patisserie, Creamerie, Viennoiserie and Bistro is a Kuwaiti reflection on French culture, melding what is most famous about the European country: style, cuisine, and decadence.
When you first enter Rococoa, the French influence is apparent. Its modern décor reaps contemporary chic wherever you turn, and you feel transported to the streets of Paris, where you’re about to indulge in un café avec tes amis with a pâte à choux chaser– or even, a whimsical salade on a lazy afternoon overlooking the spectacular view the fountain and lined trees that the Jaber Al Ahmed Cultural Center has to offer. Dressed in hues of millennial pink with whispers of gray and gold minimalist geometrical accents, you know you’re in for something special.
The flatware: Clean and pristine plates, with lovely balancing cutlery in deep, matte rose gold, and short little round glasses that are perfect for cradling in the palm of your hand. Seeing the set-up alone had us feeling excited, and when we learned that the name Rococoa was meant to be a play on words to reflect the French baroque “Rococo” period, everything came together, and we knew this was bound to be a special place.
We are presented with a tasting menu from this establishment’s summer offerings. Since Rococoa just opened, their final menu is still being tweaked for the masses. Their tasting menu, however, was curated to give us lucky diners a chance to understand the flavorful ethos the bistro stands for. Just by looking at it, we nod in appreciation, and sit back, sipping our swiftly presented Pomegranate Mojitos and Green Apple/Ginger cocktails, anticipating what’s to come. First up are two starters: A Rocket and Kale salad, featuring apple cider vinaigrette, fava puree, seeds, sesame and avocado. Lovely! Such a refreshing way to start a meal, especially when paired with the aforementioned cocktails.
Oh, but watch out: The most addictive appetizer I’ve ever met teasingly showed itself: Gougère – a name I can never forget. Made with savory choux pastry, (the same, flaky, buttery pastry used for certain desserts like éclairs and profiteroles), these little balls of heaven were filled with a gruyère mousseline, and served alongside a pommery mustard-pickle aioli. Have you ever experienced aioli that specializes in melting on the tongue, so much so that it reminds you of Béarnaise? It was absolutely delicious.
As we decided to contain ourselves and wave goodbye to the Gougère, our love affair was momentarily forgotten when the next round of goodies was delivered to us. Here, we have the Chicken Avocado Club; a chic take on a chicken salad sandwich, made with in-house pulled chicken, sliced avocado, home cured beef bacon (so tender and crisp, the best bacon I’ve ever had). The filling was flavored with a tarragon aioli – which was a beautiful touch—and sandwiched in between a buttery focaccia. And of course, lest we forget the perfectly seasoned, Parisian-style French fries: Herb encrusted and elegant, yet highly addictive.
Speaking of addictive, its second-course companion, Beetroot Fava Hummus, was nothing short of devoured by all diners at the table. Served with a compilation of homemade root vegetable crisps, the combination of chip and dip was heavenly. The hummus delivered an explosion of tart, sweet and savory all in one, and brought revelations to chickpea committed minds: maybe we all should start making our hummus with beetroot.
The third course delivered three main meals that were each special in their own way. A modern Asian Beef Salad, with expertly seared chunks of all-natural beef striploin, rice noodles, mixed leaves, deliciously fresh mint, and a chili-lemongrass dressing offered a refreshing palate of flavors to add to such a worldly experience. The trendy Poke was presented as a nutritious and filling, earthy take on the beloved bowl, giving an appearance that resembled a grain salad with Sriracha infused salmon tartare. The grains, dubbed “forbidden rice”, turned out to be aesthetically pleasing black rice, and cucumber, cabbage slaw, cresses and citrus dressing pulled the dish together. Just don’t forget to add a generous squeeze of the provided lime garnish for extra flavor!
But the main dish showstopper was most definitely the Minted Rigatoni – this dish was so difficult to leave alone. Composed of a symphony of fresh pasta, mint, butter, preserved lemon, reggiano, and surprising spring green peas, this interesting concoction was so satisfying, its medley of flavors kept us going back for more till we scraped the plate clean!
Because Rococoa’s displayed ice cream bar, encased pastries, hand-painted truffles and chocolate bars were so tempting, we couldn’t say no to dessert. I mean, who do you think you ARE if you visit Rococoa and don’t indulge in their sweet offerings? An overwhelming marble slab topped with a bit of everything arrived to our table, and we thought it positively rude to decline such an offering. Spoiled for choice at the sight of varied éclairs including Vanilla, Multi-Origin Chocolate, Mango and Passionfruit (!!!), Persian Pistachio and Brown Butter Caramel, we were practically in tears as we cut pieces to sample with gusto.
“I feel like Marie Antoinette!” I cried out as a portion of a delicate, sweet Chocolate Choux infused with oozing chocolate crème made its way to my plate. And the donuts – oh, the donuts! White on White made with vanilla seeds and Mushy Text made of raspberry with yogurt bits gave a dense, buttery pound-cake reminiscent taste that was so fresh, you’d know with each bite that you’re tasting nothing but quality. And what’s this? A smoky, icy platter of homemade ice cream! We’d surely died and gone to heaven.
After a lovely cup of Jasmine tea that arrived in a beautiful, pink clay pot, we staggered out of Rococoa, more satisfied than we’d been in a long time, and making plans to go back as regular customers. Trust us when we say that with their delicious menu, handcrafted pastries with luxury ingredients like Lescure butter and chocolate couverture sourced from the top chocolatier houses in Paris, and whimsically named flavors such as Tongue in Cheek, Junky Monkey (infused with potato chips!) and Mediterranean Muse, topped off with the gorgeous ambiance provided by the JACC, Rococoa is bound to be a new favorite for everyone.
Rococoa is located in the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Center. Follow them on Instagram @rococoakw, and visit their website www.rococoa.com for chocolate, pastry and ice cream deliveries. Photography by Yousef Al Nasser, @YousefCam on Instagram.