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The Faces of Fort Lauderdale


Chef/Owner Mike Ponluang, Coco Asian Bistro & Bar

Born and raised in Thailand, Mike Ponluang made the move to South Florida in 1980. While he came to the Sunshine State to help cook at his cousin’s eatery, it wasn’t long before he opened his own restaurant. Now, five restaurants and nearly 40 years later, he’s still going strong. Since opening Coco Asian Bistro & Bar in the Harbor Shops in Fort Lauderdale in 2006, Chef Mike has developed a loyal following of local residents and visitors.

A combination Thai and sushi restaurant, Coco offers diners a unique twist on the standard Asian fare. Chef Mike creates delectable and authentic Thai dishes, along with a sublime array of sushi, sashimi and specialty rolls. He is also dedicated to using high-quality ingredients, from top-drawer fish, seafood, beef and chicken, to fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs. Diners can taste the difference in every bite. Chef Mike also uses French cooking techniques for many of his inventive dishes, and he is always adding new dishes to his menu to augment the list of perennial favorites.

His newest notion may be the most exciting addition so far. This summer, Chef Mike will be introducing gastronomy to Coco’s enticing food and bar menus. Marrying classic ingredients with science, dishes and drinks will be taken to a new level. This new style of cuisine will allow Chef Mike to create delicious new dishes that will please the eye as well as the palate.

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This approach of combining the new with the old has worked for him so far–and luckily, he shows no sign of slowing down.