REVIEW: Dining on Hamilton Island with Coca Chu

REVIEW: Dining on Hamilton Island with Coca Chu

Hamilton Island is a new dining destination of champions.

Let’s talk about eating out on holidays.

Actually, let’s talk about bad experiences, eating out on holidays.

Ok, I’ll start:

I distinctly recall Hamilton Island holidays as a kid having a rep for bad food, hence my family’s preference to ‘self-cater’ during our trips in the 90s.

I remember mum bemoaning the average coffee and my aunt putting her nose up at the wine offerings, to the extent that they would pack a French rosé and Nescafé blend 43 before boarding.

Meanwhile, I was stuck with rice bubbles for breakfast and a peanut butter sandwich for lunch… I might as well have been back in Sydney.

Let me tell you that things have certainly changed on this pristine Island.

The wine is A+, the cocktails even better and the food is world-class.

Travel Weekly was lucky enough to be hosted by the fine folks at Coca Chu on our first night, blowing all our misconceptions out of the (crystal clear) Whitsunday’s water.

Upon entry just before the sunset, it’s low tide and the sands of Catseye beach are teaming with families, photographers and influencers seeking the perfect angle.

The restaurant faces the horizon and as the moon peaks over Whitsunday Island opposite, we realise it’s the evening of the rare blood moon eclipse.

Eery shadows are cast over the beachgoers and we settle into our (very comfortable) front-row seats for the night sky show.

Our waiter approaches with a very glamourous cocktail list and recommends the special which is a yuzu and wildflower martini. It’s dainty yet flavourful and goes down just a little faster than I’d like.

We then move on to entrees and wine. The wine list is a work of art and features both the Oatley range and a number of other local and international carefully curated drops.

We settle on a Mirabeau Etoile rosé which is ‘très sec’ and the perfect salmon pink in colour. It’s served chilled in a sophisticated silver ice bucket.

Meanwhile, the kids are banned from their screens so they’re almost exploding with frustration at not having food in front of them from the minute they sit down.

We hastily order the kids meals and they come out swiftly – one has fresh spring rolls, rice and salad and the other opts for noodles. Any drink of their choice and ice cream come as part of the deal.

The portions are generous and the flavours authentic, yet simple enough for even the fussiest of palettes.

We then peruse the menu which is contemporary Asian fusion, with predominantly Thai and Vietnamese influences. The menu is short, yet the food descriptions detailed so you get a good feel for what is coming.

I was told by many people I met on the Island that this was the best Asian fusion they’d ever eaten and by others that they had dined three nights in a row at Coca Chu after discovering it.

We opt for the prawn betel leaves to start, I order the whole crispy baby barramundi as a main, hubby takes the master stock braised lamb ribs with rice on the side, and we share the rhubarb and rosé sorbet to finish.

The betel leaves are fresh, the prawns are definitely of the “Tiger” variety, and they’re mixed with peanuts, lime leaf saw tooth, coriander & coconut dressing delicately rounding out the bite-sized crustacean creation.

The whole barra appears, and he is undeniably meant for two. As the poor bugger stares at me as I peel off his crispy outer layer, we dig in. It’s deep fried and light at the same time – almost tempura in texture.

The 3-flavour caramel, red nahm jim sauce & apple mint slaw provides the ‘kick’ needed to make this dish, iconic.

The lamb ribs are superbly presented. I’m told they’re cooked to perfection and go well with the rice. The generous chilli mint sauce herbs & prickly ash atop the dish provide a bitey green touch, cutting through the flavour of the lamb.

The sorbet is fluffy-frozen, sour and sweet all at the same time. The piquancy of the rhubarb clashes with the semi-sec rosé flavours in all the right ways.

The service is of course impeccable and the décor traditionally modern meets Hamptons as you’d expect of the Whitsundays and in a destination such as Hamilton Island.

The fact of the matter is a visit to Hamilton Island is simply not worth it without dining at Coca Chu. You can even dine there three nights in a row if you so please.

Coca Chu is situated at Hamilton Island Resort Centre, Resort Dr, Hamilton Island in Queensland.

You can book HERE.

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