Reflections on Stripmall Eating

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Continental Style


Name: Coconut Bay Asian Cuisine
Location: White Horse Road, Voorhees, NJ
Personnel: Keith, Jesse, Me
What We Ate: Pickled Cucumbers With Chile Pepper; Hong Kong Noodle Soup With Seafood; Cold Sesame Noodles; Thai Fried Rice With Chicken, Pineapple and Raisins; Eggplant and Chicken in a Clay Pot; Lemon Jasmine Iced Tea
Condiments: None
Bill Total: $52
Observations:I read about Coconut Bay over the Internet, and we wanted to see Neil Young: Heart of Gold, so we decided to combine it with a blog dining outing nearby. (It should be noted that for a Philadelphian, New Jersey suburbs are exceedingly difficult to navigate. We drove around in a Mapquest-induced state of confusion until we finally realized that White Horse Pike and White Horse Road were two different thoroughfares.) Coconut Bay is in the Echelon Village Plaza, which boasts a Genuardi's and a Panera Bread.

If "Asian cuisine" sounds vague that's because the menu here truly spans the continent. You got your Malay beef, your Hirame, your Kung Pao, all in a fat bound volume that demands prolonged, furrowed brow concentration. I don't think restaurants ought to aim for diner-style comprehensiveness. It seems a little too deferential to picky diners. If we don't like curry, we'll go somewhere else. What we had was nicely presented, like the cold sesame noodles with cherry tomato buttons lining the plate, and the fried rice in a cute Polynesian pineapple bowl. The former was greasy and flavorless but the latter was actually quite zesty. I was surprised to find chunks of lobster tail floating in the Hong Kong noodle soup broth, but otherwise the dish was not worth the work of maneuvering two utensils. Jasmine iced tea was sweet, syrupy and herbal all at once, like a drinkable cough drop. We were running late for the movie so we didn't get a chance to sample dessert. (Oddly, there are only four on the menu.) It was all decent enough but next time I think I'd rather go back to Coriander, the excellent Indian restaurant a few doors down from the Ritz. The movie, on the other hand, was fantastic.

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