This was my third time at Coya London but my two previous visits were for work lunches and since I had not paid, I didn’t realize that it can get quite pricey. I guess not too surprising when it is owned by the same group as Roka and Zuma *all buzzy and tasty and on the more expensive side).
The vibe at dinner is also more fun as the restaurant is downstairs and dark during the day. The people watching is certainly entertaining and some people were dressed to impress and were certainly clubbing post dinner (good that Peruvian food can be light and works well with tight dresses).
When at 10:45pm we were told we had to vacate the table for the next diners, I was surprised people would be arriving at 11pm but the crowd waiting was for sure going out after, versus us boring people going to bed…..
My Brazilian friends were shocked with the two hour limit as that would not ever happen in Brazil….I am usually allowed to linger longer when I book between 8-9pm, not in this case – ops.
We arrived a bit early and had a drink at the bar. The cocktails are delicious and I loved the spicy margarita with avocado which was strange but in a good way. They also marinate various fruits in pisco to prepare cocktails.
What we ate:
Lubina – Clasico: Sea bass ceviche, red onion, white corn, coriander and sweet potato. Gorgeous chunks of white sea bass in a delicate and tasty marinade. Ceviche sometimes can be too acidic but this one was well balanced and the crispy corn added a great texture.
Atún chifa: Yellowfin tuna ceviche , soy, sesame seeds, shrimp cracker: not as good as the sea bass ceviche but completely different in terms of the marinate and spices. Had a bit more of a kick but the textures were less interesting as the shrimp toast was the only crunchy element and was as tasty as a communion cracker.
Pez Limon Con Aji Verd: this was gorgeous and reiterated my preference for tiraditos over ceviches (slices versus cubes to simplify). Beautifully flawless slices of yellowtail in a beautiful and creamy sauce made of green chilli, coriander, lime and shallots. It was so tasty we ordered a second portion.
Calamares fritos con ocopa – baby squid with Peruvian marigold drizzle. Marigold seems to be (thank you Google) some mystery green micro-green and it was there purely for added color. The squid were nicely fried and not too greasy but lacked a punch of flavor.
Chicharron de Cerdo: josper pork belly, fennel, smoked chilli, mint: this was so divine that I didn’t even have the chance to take pictures as I rushed to have a bite before it disappeared form the table. The pork belly was meaty and juicy and not overly fatty and had a nice caramelization without being too sweet.
Cazuelas (iron pot) Nikkei – Chilean sea bass, rice, lime and chilli. This was the best main course. The sea bass was tall, white and flaky the way I love it and had a mildly sweet glaze on top and was sitting on top of creamy yummy rice with lime and chili. Very tasty! The waitress thought us to toss it all together and make a delicious gooey and tasty fish rice pot.
Grilled corvina with quinoa, josper roasted vegetables, herb oil: we were eating this next to the cazuelas with the Chilean sea bass and even though it was good, the sea bass was way better and this tasted a bit bland in comparison. But the herb oil added a nice touch, and made the plate look stunning.
Langostino – tiger prawn, chilli salsa: beautiful large crustacean with a touch of chilli salsa that was almost not spicy enough. The langostino was tender and perfectly cooked.
Lamb chops, roasted tamarillo, garlic chips: another perfectly cooked protein dish with a great sear on the lamb.
Hongos – side dish of field mushrooms, mirasol chilli and coriander: juicy and rich mushrooms – I think I ate most of them even though there were six of us around the table…….
Sprouting broccoli, chilli and garlic butter, sesame seeds: green and bright and crunchy (the way I like it) broccoli with delicious not overly garlicky butter. I love broccoli but somehow butter makes it even better.
Corn sundae, sweet corn ice cream and popcorn: I grew up eating corn ice cream in Brazil and when I tell people that, they usually think it is the strangest thing ever. Luckily, I was surrounded by three Brazilians who were also excited to see it on the menu and share. It was a cool looking dessert and hit the spot for me and brought sweet memories of eating corn ice cream at the rest stop we took a break on the drive down to the beach.
Salted caramel and chocolate ganache, pisco and raspberry sorbet: served shaped like a chocolate bar but gooey with the chocolate ganache (didn’t taste like salted caramel really). On top, traces of a fruit jelly and a scoop of raspberry sorbet and raspberries marinated in pisco. I don’t love berries and chocolate much (apart from a cake I make) and ate mostly the ganache part which was rich and indulgent.
Parfait de Arabica: kiwicha, caramelized banana, Zacapa 23 YO rum: very weird that they call this a parfait versus a log but whatever, what matters is the taste. The coffee flavor was almost invisible and it was a log rolled in Kiwicha (similar to quinoa), over caramelised bananas, chocolate and Zacapa 23 year old rum. The other two desserts were better. The ganache one was probably top despite my love for corn ice cream as it was not corny enough.
In sum: tasty food and fun buzzy vibe. The food is more traditional than Lima or Lima Floral and the prices are higher, but you are paying for the scene and to people watch. Service was a bit pushy in terms of asking us to order and not giving us time to read the menu, but at the end of the meal we realized why – two hour window! I always think people should alert us of that when the meal starts instead. The waitress was extremely nice and friendly and she was rushing us just to try to keep us on schedule….
Coya Restaurant Mayfair http://www.coyarestaurant.com/index
118 Piccadilly Mayfair, London, W1J 7NW