Coya is simply faultless, has won my heart, stomach and palate and is one of the best additions to London’s culinary scene – The End.
The above statement is accurate, very accurate indeed, but alas what kind of a food writer would I be if I just kept it this short? I owe you guys a bit more info so you can get a true feeling of what Coya is about right?
Coya is a highly acclaimed members bar and restaurant in Piccadilly specialising in haute, flavoursome Peruvian Cuisine. I went to the launch party on Halloween but the restaurant wasn’t ready yet.
It’s from the same owners of giants such as Zuma, Aurelia and Roka so you can pretty much guarantee that its success lies heavily on quality and experience.
I’ve already been twice, once for lunch and once for dinner so I’ll be writing about the dishes from both visits.
The decor is extremely opulent without being pretentious. Mismatched seating, a huge crystal chandelier fit for royalty, and every colours imaginable adorn the walls. This place is a jaw-dropper and will definitely make you stare like a motha-f.
The menu is as long as the bible (Old and New Testament put together) and split in different sections.
CEVICHE: What kind of a Peruvian restaurant would it be if the menu didn’t feature a wide range of Ceviche dishes? it’d be like going to an Asian joint without rice. The heavyweights were the ‘Lubina Clásico’ which consisted of sea bass, red onions, sweet potato, white corn’ and the ‘Seabream Criollo’ with amarillo chilli, crispy corn and coriander. Both were zesty, tangy, full of soft and crunchy textures and were tasty as hell. They were also very powerful in taste and I thank Peru for giving birth to ceviche, a dish that is very easy to get wrong.
TIRADITOS: The next section on the menu was ‘Tiraditos’ which is a small Peruvian dish of raw fish similar to carpaccio or sashimi. We went for the ‘Pez Limón Nikkei’ (Yellowtail, green chilli, coriander, lime, daikon) and the ‘Atún’ (Yellowfin tuna, rocoto chilli, radish). Both dishes shot out a plethora of colours from every direction and the coolness of the raw fish complimented the hotness of the chillies. If I were a man, I probably would have gotten an erection.
PARAPICA: These are small sharing dishes and we opted for ‘Conchas con ají limo’, which came in the form of scallops with limo chilli crumbs and salsa criolla. It’s always good to see scallops accompanied by unique ingredients rather than the same old ‘pea puree and bacon’ featured on lots of modern European menus. These were exotic, extremely flavoursome and again, proof that Peru is a big fan of marrying a variety of textures.
ANTICUCHOS: is marinated meat, fish or vegetables cooked on a charcoal grill. We decided on the ‘Tradicional’ (ox heart on a skewer with parsley and rocoto chilli) in addition to the king prawn skewers. I enjoyed these babies an awful lot and the ox hearts were quite ‘chewy’. I couldn’t taste any chillies but they were impeccably grilled and reminded me of how great ox heart can be when marinated right. However, out of the two, I favoured the king prawns.
PARRILLADA DE CARNE: The meat dishes were as delectable as everything we had tasted, so no surprises there. We chose the ‘Solomillo de res’ which translates as spicy beef fillet, spring onions, rocoto chilli, olives. The beef was cooked medium rare as requested and the delicacy of the meat was a fantastic contrast to how powerful all the supporting ingredients were. These guys sure know how to add some serious flavour to a dish and too right n all, nobody wants bland beef. We couldn’t resist adding ‘Costillas de chancho’ to our table – a rather enjoyable dish of pork back ribs, smothered in tamarind glaze and layered with cashew nuts. The latter were probably the least memorable in comparison to the earlier showstoppers but still a well-presented and OK addition to the meal.
FISH: We had gorged on so much red meat that the natural thing to do was balance it out with animals from the sea. First up was the ‘Erluza negra’ – a Chilean sea bass with tamarind and panca chilli and was utterly reminiscent of a black cod. The fish was light, fluffly and cut through the knife as easily as margarine. It was sweet, it was chilli and it (sorry hate to use that term but will) melted in your mouth like the Holy Communion. The star of the (fish) show though was the fillet of salmon, which I would highly recommend due to its playfulness, opulent flavours and exotic traces. The chef is definitely aware that a lot of herbs is the way to go.
VEG: This very rich dish is not completely Peruvian as there are no truffles in Peru, but my God was it a hedonists dream. “Papa seca con setas de invierno” (Peruvian wild potatoes, wild mushrooms and truffles), could be described as a ‘Peruvian’ version of risotto. They don’t come cheap, but they’re very, very worth the splurge. The asparagus we ordered were very well seasoned and really packed a punch.
JOSPER: I’m partial to meat that’s been grilled on a Josper oven, it gives the food that unique smoky flavour a normal oven fails to do. We didn’t want anything too heavy at this point so we went for the ‘Alitas de Pollo’ – chicken wings with spiced salt and a tamarind glaze. These came off the bone effortlessly and were charcoaled to precision. My favourite kind of wings are usually of the spicy buffalo kind but damn these were tremendously appetising, and I really valued the mixture of salty and sweet. If these aren’t a signature dish yet, they well ought to be.
DESERT: I had a desert during my first visit only and despite owning an under-developed sweet tooth, knew I had to take a chance on the ‘Corn sundae and sweet corn ice cream’ – it was decadent, it was crunchy and on the whole, one of the most creative deserts I’ve had the pleasure of eating.
So ladies and gents, let me re-iterate that Coya is a highly impressive restaurant that I find very hard to fault. The service is impeccable, the decor is like a colourful palace but with an edge, the food really speaks for itself. Don’t just take my word for it though, feel free to Google all the awards they’ve already received and the praises they’ve won, even from the most sceptical of food critics.
Would I lie to you? Probably, yes, but not about food.
As seen on Messi Palate