Date Night Dining: Pan-Asian Delights at Cobra Lily

Take a culinary walk through Asia

by Michaela Fulton | Tue, August 22, 2017

Set in the heart of Xintiandi – an area of reconstituted, traditional mid-19th century shikumen (stone gate) houses on narrow alleys – lies a restaurant and bar that offers a romantic setting on a stylish pedestrian road. Brought to you by the same team behind Liquid Laundry, Boxing Cat Brewery and Sproutworks, Cobra Lily is an enticing venue brimming with Pan-Asian vibes and moreish cuisine.

The space

With its unique and modern design, Cobra Lily is a two storey venue that boasts sleek elegance which encourages you to relax. Dominant tones of blue and gold are spread throughout each of the rooms, where blue lanters, turquoise banquettes, tiled floors and distressed walls ooze a strong, yet feminine, personality and charm. The bar is a room divided in color as hues range from gold and brown (bar and stools) to grey and blue (seating area). Purposefully unfinished stone walls grace the inner dining area, where splashings of black and gold paint decals (koi, Japanese waves . . . ) complete the Asia-inspired touch.

The food

Bibim Kale Salad at Cobra Lily

Here, we found a menu that offers a full range of dishes that will allow you to experience flavors from different locations in Asia – from Vietnamese and Thai to Korean and Chinese. Quirky dish names will amuse and reflect the origin of inspiration, whilst portions came generously sized and well-flavored overall. The Bibim Kale Salad (¥58) is a refreshing choice for warm nights, drizzled with a gochuchang dressing that gives a much-appreciated kick in flavor. It's packed with ingredients that will remind you of a traditional clay pot serving of South Korea's bibimbap – shiitake, spinach, bean sprouts, pickled cucumber, red bell ppepper, an egg cooked to bursting perfection and, of course, a delicious house kimchi.

Oyakodon meets Okonomiyaki at Cobra Lily

Oyakodon meets Okonomiyaki (¥78) in a Japanese homestyle chicken and egg over rice yet, while we couldn't get enough of the bonito flakes and green onion topping, the dish felt a little too bottom heavy with a dense packing of rice hidden underneath a seemingly never-ending topping on first glance.

Thai Quack at Cobra Lily

Moving on the main events, we opted for the Thai Quack (¥98) for a rich Thai red curry that smothered slices of tender roast duck breast. Accompanied with pumpkin, eggplant, green beans and a pineapple habanero salsa, this eventually became our favorite dish of the night – one that we would happily return again and again to savor.

Phuket I'm Out at Cobra Lily

While we were happy with the dishes thus far, there was one that let the team down within our choices. Phuket, I'm Out (¥58) had all the hopes of being a promising take on a classic Thai dish. A take on the Pad Thai Omelette, it was filled with shrimp meat, tofu, beansprouts and peanuts – alongside a dressing of chilis. We excitedly cut open the dish and shovelled the warm noodles into our mouths, however were disappointed by the bland taste that greeted us.

Godzilla Does Bangkok at Cobra Lily

To finish, we simply had to indulge our sweet tooth and try a dessert. Godzilla Does Bangkok (¥58) was a fantastically light coconut sorbet nestles on top of a pandan curd and topped with a light sprinkling of togarashi (a Japanese mixed chili pepper) and puffed rice. In all honesty, this was one dish that was hard to share!

The drinks

Radio Bombay at Cobra Lily

Something has to be said for the cocktail at Cobra Lily, which were well put-together when it came to both taste and presentation. What's more, they drew on Asian ingredients as key notes. Though it reminded us of the more-than-deadly zolbie cocktails back home that are limited by number per customer, the Walking Dead (¥95) was completelydifferent to what we imagined on reading the name. Comprised of a Smoked Lapsing Soughing tea infused Bacardi Carta Blanca, Spiced Rum, Grand Marnier, citrus and syrups of both cloves and cinnamon, it was actually the passion fruit puree that took centrestage as the dominant flavor (alongside the tiki cup it was served in).

Radio Bombay (¥85) became an all-round favorite with it's combination of Bombay Sapphire Gin infused with green curry leaves, citrus, a black peppercorn syrup and a chai masal syrup to boot. Served tall, this was refreshing, light and went down far too easily (in a good way). 

We finished our cocktail selection with a touch of sweet Cheesecake (¥85) made from Dewars 12, caramel, citrus and topped with egg white. Now, though not a huge advocate for drinking egg whites, this was what held the majority of the sweet cheesecake flavor. This soon dissipated, transforming into a subtle change in flavor that focused on the Dewars 12 and cutting through the sweetness.

The verdict

Overall, both food and drink were well-presented, held exquisite flavor and intrigued our tastebuds to no end, though there were one of two dishes that didn't live up to expectations. This will definitely become a regular date night spot!

Good to know

Lane 181, Tailing Lu, Xintiandi

太仓路181弄新天地19-20号, 近马当路

Hours: Monday to Sunday, 11am-1am