My girlfriend and I went to Kokkekoko for the first time a few days ago.
We sat at the bar and met several patrons who were outrageously enthusiastic about the place. Pablo, the guy next to us, had just been given a "free" bowl of edamame because he's a regular customer. "Of course edamame is free," you say to yourself, having been to 8,000 other restaurants where this is the case. One look at the menu however reveals otherwise... $4.00 for soybeans. Wow. Granted, they were served warm and dusted with salt, so there was some labor of preparation involved, but to my mind there's a lot more labor involved in baking bread and the dinner rolls are usually free.
We settle into the menu. $25 for a 10-skewer course (including an iceberg salad and light, brothy soup) or $15 for the "half course". We opted for one and a half, and bolused our order with a few more skewers at $2.20 a pop. In addition we orded the small sababo rice bowl, about $5.00, which had some really delicious ground chicken and seaweed on top of the rice. Per the suggestion of another one of the super-enthusiastic patrons at the bar, you add a little of the clear soup to the concoction it is quite good.
In fact, all of it was quite good. After a rediculously long wait (about 45 minutes) we were served our first skewer of chicken thigh, with apologies for taking so long. There were other customers seated at the bar who were inexplicably served immediately upon sitting, as if they had phoned ahead their order. It appears that this restaurant has a definite pecking order, something I don't like in any restaurant, but was especially surprising to find in laid back Littly Tokyo. Our orders continued to come and with little exception, each skewer was quite delicious. (I found out now that I am indeed a fan of chicken hearts-- smoky, chewy little nuggets of deliciousness.) We ordered two beers to bolus our order. We asked for the bill multiple times but in the end were waiting about 25 minutes for it. The worst part came when the owner came over to tell us that we needed to give up our seats for other guests! We told him that we had been waiting for our bill, and he said something to someone else-- shook our hands as a final gesture to get us to leave our seats. We then waiting around, standing, for our bill. Total bill with tip.... $80.
I left the restaurant in a haze, having liked the food but felt truly strange about the experience-- the long wait, the pecking order, getting rushed out of there (although with the extraordinarily slow service we actually were there for a total of 3 hours)
The final absurdity of the situation hit me when I realized that I had paid $80 for chicken. $80 for chicken! These are sushi prices... these are A.O.C. prices... do you know how many Dino's day-glo orange chickens I could buy for $80? How many chicken tarna sandwiches at Zankou I could buy? Fer god's sake, I could order 4 plates of marinated Korean deliciousness at Chosun Galbee (or 5 plates at soot bull jeep!)
I can't help but feel shafted by the whole experience... I have never read a negative review of this place on chowhound and I am curious to hear other opinions.
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