The closure of Coco in Palm Beach this summer left Jeff Peng without a restaurant, and Palm Beachers without the Asian food they’d come to love.
Meanwhile, China Beach Bistro had opened in Northwood in West Palm Beach. But it was doing only so-so.
“All the staff were from New York,” said China Beach Bistro partner Turgut “TK” Kaytmuz. “They kept going back and forth to New York. Every time the chef left, or the sous chef, the food quality went down. I had had enough of that.”
Peng was exploring other locations for Coco. “I looked at Royal Palm Beach, Boynton Beach and Greenacres,” he said. “Then I was approached by the owner of China Bistro and we started talking.”
“I like Jeff’s food very much, Kaytmuz said. “The restaurant was nice and had good service. He had the menus, he brought everybody over from Coco – the waiters, the cooks, the whole staff. They know Jeff’s food and they’re trained – I thought this was a good marriage.”
It’s all Coco
“I picked this location because it’s so close to Palm Beach and I can keep my clientele. They have their own clientele, so if I join them, it would be a big plus for both of us,” Peng said.
The team reopened three weeks ago as Coco China Bistro. “People heard that I’ve relocated and have started to come to see me. I have all my signature dishes – the same menu as Coco,” he said. “Even the uniforms are the same – people are surprised – they feel like they’re back in Palm Beach,” he said, laughing.
The Coco menu has two sides – the dishes Peng created for Palm Beach that he calls Palm-Asian, and the traditional mix of Szechuan and Cantonese plates.
Popular items are back – the sushi, the dim-sum dumplings, and Kobe beef, and “my signature whole red snapper. I debone it and cook it in a Szechuan sauce then put the bone on for presentation. Palm Beachers loved it.” Like all dishes, he said, it can be ordered spicy or mild.
The lotus leaf-wrapped chicken also returns – it still requires advance notice due to the slow cooking process. And Peking duck is here, but at few portions per night – call ahead and reserve one if that’s your desire.
One thing that has changed is the price point. “We’ll have Palm Beach food and service at West Palm Beach prices,” Peng said.
Kaytmuz is happy. “It’s a win-win. Jeff’s a great guy – I love him. Now I don’t have to worry about the quality of the food.”
Coco China Beach Bistro
- 407 Northwood Road, West Palm Beach
- 561-833-4242; chinabeachbistrowpb.com
- Open daily for lunch from 11:30 a.m.; dinner, from 4:30 p.m.; reservations accepted.