I’ve come late to the Coya bandwagon. When the first London outpost opened a coupla years ago – and Nikkei/Peruvian cuisine started being a trend – I’ve put it on my “hit list”. But, as life happens, you tend to take for granted things or places (sometimes people, LOL) that are just close by. So a Coya visit has been placed in the backburner of a “hit list” notebook that’s long forgotten.
With a list of newcomers on the London restaurant scene rising, we decided to backtrack and tick some boxes before we move on. Coya came available on a day that was quite difficult to get seats for, so we decided to just go ahead and visit.
The restaurant, a stone’s throw away from Green Park, is gorgeous. You enter and step into the bar, where punters probably stay before they get seated. A few bartender friends I met from LAB (RIP) used to manage this place – I’ve heard great things about their cocktails. They do, after all, have a pisco library. I mean, who knew there were that many types?
Whilst my companion opted for a (potent) pisco sour, I actually went for a non-alcoholic fresco called Flor de Melocoton (£8, apple and lemon juice, peach puree, lavender and basil leaves). Whilst it was delicious, I’m pleased to say that Coya uses paper straws. Plus points for doing their CSR and contribution to environmental preservation.
London has definitely opened up to Peruvian cuisine. With a menu boasting of 11 categories, things could easily get overwhelming. The solution was to get the Degustation Menu (£80 per person). Easy peasy.
The question is, was it worth it?
We started off with four types of ceviche. Because what’s Peruvian cuisine without a bowl of raw fish and tiger’s milk, eh?
Tiradito de Hiramasa – kingfish, dashi, truffle oil, chives
Delicious. The truffle oil was subtle enough to let the freshness of the fish come through. And as all things truffle go, those mushrooms were a killer.
Lubina Clásico – sea bass, sweet potato, white corn, onion
Frankly, I found this bland. The sweet potato was lost in all that tiger’s milk, which didn’t taste as punchy as the others. The fish was fresh, though – and there were big chunks of the sea bass.
Dorada Criollo – Sea bream, aji amarillo, crispy corn, coriander
This was much better than the sea bass ceviche, with a punchier tiger’s milk and a more exciting flavour profile.
Atún Chifa – yellowfin tuna, sesame, shrimp cracker
Possibly my favourite of the lot. The fish had a beautiful fresh flavour, with the sesame seeds and cracker giving it decent texture and nuttiness. But the sauce was what made this fantastic – it’s punchy and had a nice kick of spice; it’s how I’d like my ceviche to taste like.
Overall, a good start.
Next to arrive were items from the ensaladas, anticuchos and para picar menu.
Trio de Maiz – this is an awesome dish for those who consider themselves corny (whether you like Dad jokes or not), but I get it if some people would think this is too little for too much. But hey, here’s a nod to authentic Peruvian cuisine – for what is Peruvian food without corn? There’s grilled corn, crispy corn and cusco corn. Corn party all over.
The plus? No Green Giants were harmed in the making of this dish.
-END OF DAD JOKES-
Our anticucho was chicken, marinated in aji amarillo and garlic. Whilst I found the chicken tasty, I think there are more exciting anticuchos on the menu should you want to go a la carte. I like the sound of the ox heart and the tiger prawns.
From the para picar menu, octopus cooked on the Josper with some sort of olive puree. On paper, I should be very happy about it because I order octopus whenever I can. Frankly, Coya’s offering wasn’t the best I’ve had, flavour-wise. The octopus was cooked nicely enough, but the smokiness from the grill and the strong, pungent taste of the olives left a bitter note on my palate. Eaten with the cress and tomatoes, it was okay. But defo not my favourite plate.
The slow cooked pulled pork might be an option for next time.
I love getting delicious good quality meat in tasting menus and Coya did not disappoint. We had the Solomillo de Res. The beef fillets were cooked to a nice medium rare – and though I prefer my cuts rare, I actually enjoyed this. The crunch from crisped shallot garnish added awesome texture and the aji rocoto was piquant enough to give a little kick, but not overpoweringly so.
But the star of the show for me was Coya’s Arroz Nikkei: Chilean sea bass, rice, lime, chilli.
The priciest dish from their cazuela offerings, this delivered in quality and flavour. The sea bass was a good big chunk, and the meaty flakes just slivered with my fork like butter. And that rice? HOLY. SMOKES. It was buttery, creamy, well textured, and just frankly, delicious. Each spoonful packed so much flavour in equally balanced waves; you get a bit of sweetness, a bit of saltiness, a bit of heat.
You can’t miss this if/when you order a la carte.
Oh, yeah. We had a side of broccoli. Possibly grilled from the Josper as well. Frankly, I’d say it was forgettable but I remember it being so overly smoked that I can’t forget it.
A palate cleanser came in the form of a chicha morada sorbet. Chicha morada apparently is a typical drink in Peru and it’s made with… *drumrolls* corn. Of course.
It’s an interesting flavour. However, even though I appreciate exploring new tastes from all sides of the world, it’s not for me, this one.
Dessert #1 was a chocolatey salted caramel ganache with yuzu, blood orange sorbet, and what I’d call drunken raspberries. The ganache itself was rich, sticky and almost fudge-like but the sorbet actually makes it seem lighter. This dessert is bold, but perhaps a bit too much after all that food.
Dessert #2, however was very much what I’d hoped for: coconut mousse, pineapple sorbet served with a lime and coconut granita.
This was light and refreshing, as well as reminiscent of all things tropical. Definitely a tease for Summer.
Verdict for Coya’s Degustation Menu
There was a lot of food, with at least one dish per menu category (although we did miss out on the good looking tiraditos). I think it’s decent value for money, with some of the offerings on the pricier side. Admittedly, I’d probably change two to three dishes here to make it a truly fab meal. But overall I thought it was worth the £70 price tag.
To be fair, I’d probably pay that much for bigger portions of the cazuela and the beef solomillo a la carte!
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