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BEST NEW BISTRO

Koku

shortlisted by Lefooding

WHO
Nested in the bustling Cuauhtémoc neighborhood, near the US Embassy, chef Takeya Matsumoto fluidly expresses his Mexican and Japanese influences on this carefully created menu.

FOOD
Reasonable Japanese cuisine with an especially affordable lunch menu.
For dinner, I enjoyed the: 
“Chocolate” clams (the name comes from their brown shells), diced and garnished with crunchy salt, cilantro and coconut milk. Forget the "hopsticks. Order several and gleefully gulp them down – $70 each
“Salmondon,” a steamed rice plate with salmon, avocado, seaweed, spring onions and sesame – $150
A conceptually intriguing macha tiramisu with an original flavor, although it turns out that tiramisu is typically made with coffee for a good, moist reason – $75

DRINKS
An extensive alcohol list is on offer – sake, shochu, tequila, international wines by the bottle or glass, and Japanese and Mexican beers, including local craft brews.
An unremarkable Pescadores Guëra blonde ale (what’s in a name?) – $130
An agreeably nutty local white Chenin Colombard with a tight finish from Monte Xanic – $110

DECOR
It’s located in a very big industrial space of the kind you’ve seen before, although it’s undeniably well done with just the right amount of references to Japanese culture and an impressive painting of a Japanese mountain scene on one of the bare brick walls. A big open kitchen, where you can sit at the bar, gives it an informal feeling. Inside are slatted wooden lamps overhead, although it’s worth venturing outside to the terraces, where the lamps are wicker and candles come out at sunset.

NOISE
Big band Mexican versions of upbeat 50s classics. Nothing complicated, nothing intrusive.

SEATING
Endless. Comfortable wooden chairs around bistro tables. On a warm night, choose the terrace out front if you can, or the big open garden at the back, covered in the winter or when it’s raining by a retractable glass roof. Otherwise, one of the many seats at the bar is a good choice if you’re solo or a pair.

VIBE
A stylish factory, although with its extremely reasonable prices, the place is packed at dinner by locals of all stripes – office colleagues, families and couples. If you fit into any of those categories, you’ll feel right at home. Koku is simultaneously elegant and cozy depending on your perspective, with the highlight being the closed terrace.

RESTROOMS
Upstairs, shared by the pizza parlor/sports bar next door. Clean, but it’s also a factory. You’ll be directed to a stall by an attendant, who will call your attention to a tip jar on the way out.

SERVICE
Polite, if overwhelmed. This is service through teamwork, and after reminding three team members, a glass of wine finally arrived, although considering the final bill, 15% seemed fair enough.

WOULD RECOMMEND
Yes, for lunch or an early dinner, especially with kids. If you’re after Japanese food, you could possibly find better in CDMX, but for unpretentious value in a stylish atmosphere, Koku’s a good choice.

WHO
Nested in the bustling Cuauhtémoc neighborhood, near the US Embassy, chef Takeya Matsumoto fluidly expresses his Mexican and Japanese influences on this carefully created menu.

FOOD
Reasonable Japanese cuisine with an especially affordable lunch menu.
For dinner, I enjoyed the: 
“Chocolate” clams (the name comes from their brown shells), diced and garnished with crunchy salt, cilantro and coconut milk. Forget the "hopsticks. Order several and gleefully gulp them down – $70 each
“Salmondon,” a steamed rice plate with salmon, avocado, seaweed, spring onions and sesame – $150
A conceptually intriguing macha tiramisu with an original flavor, although it turns out that tiramisu is typically made with coffee for a good, moist reason – $75

DRINKS
An extensive alcohol list is on offer – sake, shochu, tequila, international wines by the bottle or glass, and Japanese and Mexican beers, including local craft brews.
An unremarkable Pescadores Guëra blonde ale (what’s in a name?) – $130
An agreeably nutty local white Chenin Colombard with a tight finish from Monte Xanic – $110

DECOR
It’s located in a very big industrial space of the kind you’ve seen before, although it’s undeniably well done with just the right amount of references to Japanese culture and an impressive painting of a Japanese mountain scene on one of the bare brick walls. A big open kitchen, where you can sit at the bar, gives it an informal feeling. Inside are slatted wooden lamps overhead, although it’s worth venturing outside to the terraces, where the lamps are wicker and candles come out at sunset.

NOISE
Big band Mexican versions of upbeat 50s classics. Nothing complicated, nothing intrusive.

SEATING
Endless. Comfortable wooden chairs around bistro tables. On a warm night, choose the terrace out front if you can, or the big open garden at the back, covered in the winter or when it’s raining by a retractable glass roof. Otherwise, one of the many seats at the bar is a good choice if you’re solo or a pair.

VIBE
A stylish factory, although with its extremely reasonable prices, the place is packed at dinner by locals of all stripes – office colleagues, families and couples. If you fit into any of those categories, you’ll feel right at home. Koku is simultaneously elegant and cozy depending on your perspective, with the highlight being the closed terrace.

RESTROOMS
Upstairs, shared by the pizza parlor/sports bar next door. Clean, but it’s also a factory. You’ll be directed to a stall by an attendant, who will call your attention to a tip jar on the way out.

SERVICE
Polite, if overwhelmed. This is service through teamwork, and after reminding three team members, a glass of wine finally arrived, although considering the final bill, 15% seemed fair enough.

WOULD RECOMMEND
Yes, for lunch or an early dinner, especially with kids. If you’re after Japanese food, you could possibly find better in CDMX, but for unpretentious value in a stylish atmosphere, Koku’s a good choice.

CHEF

Takeya Matsumoto

OPENING HOURS

Monday to Sunday: 12:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

RESERVATIONS

Available on Open Table, though given the size of this place, they’re hardly necessary.

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