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Restaurant Spotlight: Poly Cultural Center Focaccino - So many new things to try!

When I found that I would be checking out Focaccino for, I thought it was only fitting, that the newest branch of the first place I was really excited about opening in Coco Park would be my first assignment. I’d been to the Coco Park location many times so I didn’t expect much to be different in their new restaurant located in the Poly Cultural Center. I was mistaken. Not to be misunderstood. Focaccino in Coco Park is a great little place, I’ve just eaten there so many times, that I didn’t think I could be surprised. They are in a nice location on the 3rd floor across from the movie theater entrance.

I was joined by the Area Manager of Focaccino, Joyce Lai who recommended I try some of the many new exclusive dishes to this Location. We had a very nice discussion about how Focaccino strives to make things very authentic, for example, having had 2 highly regarded chefs from France and Italy to teach them how to make their breads. Due to the size of their new kitchen, they offer a different menu with other things that are harder to make in the other branches, for example, home-made pastas. We went over some of the history of the restaurant and then we got down to business. For Appetizers we decided I should try the, Sautéed Escargot with White Wine Cream (58RMB) and Mussels Lager (68RMB).

The Sautéed Escargot were served on top of freshly made Polenta and covered with chopped celery, onions, and white wine balsamic sauce. The Escargot was cooked just right and the polenta and tangy sauce really complimented it. Try to get a bit of all three in one bite. The Mussels Lager was my favorite of the two appetizers. There were at least 8 mussels. It was hard to tell because they were covered by so much delicious chopped vegetales. You are served a big mound of one of the tastiest appetizers I’ve had in a while. I dipped in immediately with the provided sliced focaccia bread. It was so good. You can taste the freshness of the vegetables and you can really taste the rosemary. Then I worked through the first layer to the mussels underneath. Also cooked to the point where they weren’t too chewy and flavored by the chopped veggies. Hopefully, by the time you get to the bottom of the dish you have some leftover bread for dipping. They were nice enough to offer me some more bread since I enjoyed it so much. I think this could easily feed three people.

For Entrees, we put in an order for the popular Spaghetti Vongole (I ordered it with Linguine) (48RMB), the Shrimp Penne in Vodka (48RMB), the Smoked Baby Back Ribs with Home made BBQ Sauce (88RMB), and the Roasted Rack of Lamb in Orange and Rosemary Sauce served with Herb Wine Sauce (138RMB).

The first entrée they brought out were the Smoked Baby Back Ribs. Joyce began telling me they worked very hard on these. Their goal was to make delicious tender ribs that could be eaten with a fork. Mission Accomplished. These were really tasty. They fell apart with minimal use of the fork thanks to the 3 hours used to prepare them. I would describe them as tangy with a slight taste of pepper. They were served with chunky mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables with a touch of butter. I was told the sides are changed weekly for all the entrees.

Next to arrive was the Linguine Vongole. I love a good Alfredo sauce, and the white wine cream sauce topping the pasta had a very similar taste with a bite of pepper. I thought to myself, I could eat this every day if my heart would allow it. It was served with delicious small clams and bits of fresh basil sprinkled on top. Simply wonderful.

The Shrimp Penne Vodka followed. The Marinara sauce used was really nice. I really liked the fresh tomatoes and the oregano. The penne pasta, cooked al dente, was topped with four medium sized shrimp that I couldn’t leave behind before moving onto the next dish.

Finally, they brought out the Rack of Lamb served with the same sides as the previously mentioned ribs. I first tried some of the strong flavored black pepper sauce which I thought would go well with the mashed potatoes and I was right. The lamb had a very unique taste thanks to the orange and rosemary it was cooked in. I truly enjoyed it. Then I dipped a piece in the pepper sauce and it tasted even better. I think anyone would be happy with this dish.

We had one more stop on this tour, and it was their Desert menu. Joyce had the waitress bring out a few different things to try. First a slice of the Non-Bake Bailey’s Cheesecake (28Rmb). It had a Digestive cookie (basically a graham cracker) crust and was topped with cocoa powder and a small bit of crème and a little coffee bean resting on top. Very nice.

Next, I had a bite of the Apple Tart (24RMB). Which was a home made custard flavored with vanilla essence and covered with thinly sliced apples. It had a nice flavor and I haven’t seen many around town serving tarts so it was a welcome thing to try.

Finally, the New York Cheesecake with Strawberry Topping (28RMB) came to table. The first time I had a slice of NY Cheesecake from Focaccino, I left a little disappointed. It wasn’t firm enough. I was expecting the same, but I’m glad they had this chance to redeem themselves, The Digestive crust was great and the filling was perfect, especially with the sweet strawberry topping. I highly recommend this very rich flavored dessert.

I was lucky enough to try so many different meals due to being a reviewer but you can have a similar experience. I suggest you get the Focaccino Tasting Menu for 2 which includes many of the mentioned dishes above for only 358 RMB and 10% Service Charge.

If your coming with the kids you might want to have them try the kids tour of the kitchen which for only 28RMB they will learn to make a salad, a pizza, be given drinks, and learn dining etiquette. I was a little disappointed because I was told this is a kid’s only tour. Too bad. I love playing with my food.

Overall, I found Focaccino to be a really nice place. The design of this new location is really nice with a small bar in the middle. It would make a nice place to bring a date too or just have a casual lunch or dinner. Now I’m going to go run a few hundred miles to burn off all this food I ate…

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By: mLink
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Member For: 13 years 30 weeks ago