Peruvian food has a strong Japanese influence and Coya is the most evident in the recent openings among Lima and Ceviche. The kitchen counter is like the sushi bars you’d find in Japanese restaurants and it looked similar to the one at Zuma with large bowls of lemons on the counter and fresh seafoods like rosy tuna belly, yellowtail and gigantic prawns the size of a lobster. Opened by Arjun Waney, who’s also behind Zuma, Coya aims at the high end dining market with a separate bar and restaurant in the spacious downstairs of Piccadilly (close to Hyde Park Corner). With no name on the building, it could’ve been anything but a restaurant and definitely not for the casually walk-ins unless you know it’s there - look for the 118 number on the building, otherwise you’ll miss it!
For me, Ceviche in Soho is a casual night out with friends. Energetic music, small and dark dining room, tapas styled dishes for everyone to share. But you have to book and it’s difficult to find an ideal time slot that’s not taken (about £30 per person). It’s not good for large parties (more than 4 people) and you do have to lean close to hear each other. Lima is more formal, starter, main and dessert, rather English the way it’s laid out and expensive at £50 per person. Coya is the cross between Ceviche and Zuma, it has a sense of casualness with sizzling robata grill in the background with the energetic music and relatively noisy ambience. Menu is also designed to share and the large space is great for groups, but closing in on £70 per person is not casual. This price tag is more for quiet and elegant dining rooms where you can really feel the experience. Coya’s target is more for business dinners, easy to book, has a bar and beautiful dining room. I can easily see it being the perfect place for xmas team meals.
Menu wise, grill and sashimi styled dishes are the speciality. You share everything and we ordered about 6 dishes between 2 people.
Lubina Clásico Ceviche
Classic ceviche made with sea bass, similar flavour to the other Peruvian restaurants with the correct amount of lime kick. The addition of cancha (fried corns) was interesting because biting into the tender sea bass with it felt like a stone accidentally dropped into the dish, but once it’s broken down it gave an interesting crunchy texture.
Pez Limón Nikkei
I can easily see this dish in a Japanese restaurant, unlike the usual move of adding an acidic element to cut through, it was really smooth with a slightly sweet green chilli sauce. A beautiful dish that’s really enjoyable to eat!
Perfectly cooked salmon with a strong charred flavour yet unbelievably tender salmon.
Grilled chicken wings
Smokey, crispy, a sweet tamarind dressing and an aftertaste of salt. Who doesn’t love grilled chicken wings?!
Grilled tiger prawns
These could’ve been lobsters! Beautifully cooked and the pickled onions on the side were good too.
Grilled potatoes, spicy tomatoes, huancaína sauce
I really loved these potatoes with the extra crispy edges and its charred flavour.
Arabica parfait with Zacapa poached pear
Almost all the desserts on the menu were ice cream and this one was the better out of the two we ordered. Like a toffee flavoured ice cream with really soft pear on the side.
Corn sundae and sweet corn ice cream
Nothing special about this dessert, I asked for sweet corn ice cream and got sweet corn ice cream. No surprises there. It’d be good if they could include more Peruvian influenced desserts.
Interesting tea set that came with a hourglass to remind you to wait 3 minutes for the tea to brew.
Verdict - 4/5
Food (very good) - the dishes were pretty much faultless and I really enjoyed the grill and Japanese influenced dishes. The salmon was unbelievably tender with a great charred flavour, the chicken wings had crispy skins with that salty kick and the ceviche was spot on too. It’d be good if the desserts can have more Peruvian influence and more options other than ice cream.
Service (high end) - the downstairs dining room is really spacious with a separate bar. Great for business dinners with large parties, a great wine list and lengthy cocktail menu. Food comes fast and everything is ordered to share but sizes are small.
Cost (£65pp) - definitely hitting the high end market, two of us billed £130 with these dishes including two glasses of wine. The portions are smaller and more expensive, for example, the ceviche at Coya is half of the size of those at Ceviche Soho and £1 more expensive.
Tube: Hyde Park Corner / Green Park
London, W1J 7NW
020 7042 7118