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COYA City 

Sublime ceviche, a thriving atmosphere, aesthetic enthral and Peruvian fusion at its finest – why COYA City is destined to impress 

By Olivia Riccini

With no less than six restaurants across the globe, COYA has firmly established its membership as one of London’s most en-vogue restaurants – the city now blessed with two of those treasures. A beacon to those seeking a dining experience full of aesthetic allure alongside the ultimate culinary pleasure, COYA invites guests to embrace their ‘inner Inca’ when they visit, through a hedonistic combination of Peruvian cooking and transportive interiors. 

I find myself on this immersive journey one Thursday night as I step through the exclusive entrance and into COYA City near Bank, ready and raring to try their tasting menu. However, tonight is not just any night at COYA, before heading to my table I am eager to check out the launch of their brand new commitment to the art world. Proud to provide wall-space in all their restaurants to a range of different artists, every three months, COYA launches and supports new artists and proudly displays their work. This time, COYA and Gone Rogue’s exclusive collection consists of artist Ben Allen’s work. A vibrant, pop art, 60s inspired, mosaic of modern culture, Allen’s pieces reimagine deities arising from urban street environments – it is well worth a peruse and adds to the cool, reflective and arty identity of COYA as a whole. 

The party atmosphere of the exhibition reverberates around the entirety of COYA flooding out onto the restaurant floor and crashing as one big recurring wave together with the clatter of the busy kitchen, clinking glasses and the loud, happy revelries of other diners. Midweek, I spot a plethora of types of guests: groups of girls out celebrating, corporate professionals entertaining clients and couples out on intimate dates nights. This collection illustrates the versatility of COYA – but ultimately it is a place for those in-the-know and craving aesthetic and gastronomic pleasure combined – destined to impress. Far from being simply an Instagrammer’s dream, COYA’s interiors are certain to enthral anyone that appreciates an inventive and visually stunning decor. Warm rich dark tones, charcoal blacks and chocolatey browns blend with the vibrant greens of botanical plants and dashes of earthy reds and blues. Plants sprout from the walls and Inca-inspired designs adorn the decor, while dark, moody, glowing lighting creates that ultra-cool ambience so sought after by the most fashionable of London’s restaurants. Tactile textures blend with these rich tones, including the sumptuous circular booth we are sitting at with its orangey-red velvet seating. Backed against a dark wall, it makes for perfect, intimate, viewing of the stage that is the bustling floor of the restaurant. 

We start with one of COYA’s signature dishes. Although simplistic in style, it is the execution of this dish that has made it a famous feature of COYA’s menu, appearing on countless Instagram stories and pleasing many a diner as they ease into a meal. It is of course their fresh guacamole, served with equally fresh, warm tortillas. Prepared right there at the table, our server effortlessly goes about this show, slicing up the avocado into a creamy dip in a heavy stone bowl ready for our tortillas. Alongside this beautifully fresh start to our meal, three more appetisers are placed on our table, the first of which I try is the ‘cangrejo de concha blanda’. Soft shell crab with yuzu, avocado and ají limo coleslaw, the crab meat is cooked perfectly, battered golden on the outside, upon biting the crisp exterior gives way to that gorgeous crab flavour and texture, elevated all the more by the creaminess of the avocado and tang of the limo coleslaw. Appetiser number two comes in the form of ‘baos con cerdo’: two beautifully fluffy bao buns filled with pulled pork, chipotle and salsa criolla. Hitting that delightful sweet and savoury mark, the meat is melt-in-the-mouth soft and in true appetiser form is a delectable little morsel of smoky-sweet flavour. The third and final appetiser is a nice little addition to these strong starters: marinated chargrilled chicken skewers or ‘anticuchos de pollo’ with ají amarillo and chives. 

At its core, COYA is the ultimate representative for Nikkei cuisine. Over the past few years, Nikkei has become a firm favourite in the London restaurant scene, taking a top spot for one of the trendiest, tastiest types of food. A fusion that combines Japanese and Peruvian elements, one of Nikkei’s most beloved dishes is, of course, ceviche. A miraculous array of beautiful dishes is placed on our table, a true showstopper. This course is presented in the form of a decadent pyramid of small plates atop a bowl of ice to keep their cool, each one beautifully unique to its counterparts but just as delicious. These four dishes include: ‘ceviche de lubina clásica’, seabass, red onion, sweet potato and white corn, ‘ceviche de atún chifa’ yellowfin tuna with soy, sesame seeds and rice crackers; and ‘ceviche de corvina a la trufa’ stone bass, with truffles, ponzu and chives. But the standout for me has to be the ’tiradito de pez limón’: yellowtail, green chilli, radish. Searing with fresh flavour and with a tantalising texture on the tongue to match, this is perhaps the best tuna I have tasted. The colours of each dish pop, promising further freshness and kicks of bold flavour – the next ceviche delivers and I am once again wowed by the combination of truffle with stone bass. Far from being too rich or overpowering, this is simply sublime, the addition of the truffle elevating the delicate tastes of the stone bass adding to the sheer complexity of flavour.

Although I could have walked away fully content and wowed by flavour after finishing the ceviche, more delicious little sharing plates were yet to come. Another display proudly showcased by our waiter comes in the form of the ‘arroz nikkei’: Chilean sea bass with rice, lime, and ají amaril. The sauce is beautifully creamy and is a gorgeous accompaniment to the sea bass which is buttery soft and cooked to absolute perfection – the flavours of the fish coming out to their full potential and elevated all the more by the ají amaril. Another more substantial plate takes shape as the ‘lomo de res’, a melt-in-the-mouth spicy beef fillet with crispy shallots, ají limo and star anise. This really will be one for the meat lovers. Again, it is cooked to sheer perfection – a fact I can see by simply taking in the beautiful colour of the meat – slightly rare, beautifully tender. A couple of small veggie plates assist the two bigger dishes, the ultimate support acts. The Japanese aubergine with miso, lemon and achiote hits that sensational sweet spot of being salty and savoury, yet sweet and smoky too. Delightfully moreish with that distinct fresh aubergine flavour, we devour the lot without a second thought. Greens come in the form of tenderstem broccoli with sesame seeds. Sweet and still crunchy, this is also a dream – a gorgeous necessity to have alongside rich meaty dishes. 

I’ll add in here that COYA also effortlessly breeze to the top of the impressive charts when it comes to cocktails too. I try their speciality, a pisco sour, and it is everything a pisco sour should be. A tantalising mix of tart, sweet, silky and herbaceous, I could knock these back easily and without any hesitation.  

Never a pair to turn down a pud, we go in for two to share. Churros de Naranja (orange and lime churros), come with milk chocolate and dulce de leche to dip. Another dish that COYA is famous for, I know that these are going to be good. But, I was not quite expecting just how good. A simple concept, these churros are golden and crisp on the outside yet beautifully fluffy and light on the inside, I dip them in hedonistically into the dulce de leche scooping up a generous amount of melted choc. Heaven. Gluttony at its guilt-free best, we are sharing two desserts, and further sensations are reached when I slide my fork into the ‘tarta de queso’. A manchego cheesecake, it is adorned with juicy blackberries and sprinkled spices – oh my god it is good. All the exquisiteness anyone could desire from a cheesecake is delivered by the distinctiveness of the manchego and offset by the salty biscuit base and fruity, sharp, dark-berriness of the blackberries. 

If you’re looking for hedonistic heights of fresh flavour and indulgent desserts to finish, then COYA is your place. If you’re curious about nikkei cuisine, then look no further than COYA. If you simply want to impress someone special, then go to COYA. If you’re in need of a quick journey to locate your ‘inner Inca’, COYA is the one. Want to marvel at some seriously aesthetically pleasing interiors? Then COYA is your place too.

www.coyarestaurant.com

@coyacity

@coyamayfair

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