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Coya – A Healthy Twist to a Healthy Dining Option:
I’ve been to Coya before. Situated in what could in the wrong hands have felt like a cavernous basement, the Peruvian restaurant has been carefully fitted out, fusing Inca styling with Spanish Colonial opulence to create a hidden Palace. Ultra comfortable seating, dark cobalt walls, open kitchens with assado and ceviche stations and clever lighting create a stage for dining. This is a theatre for food and I feel as if I’ve got dress circle seats.
On this occasion I was invited to review the new healthy juice menu. With a selection of ceviche and tiradito complemented by meats and vegetables from the grills, the main food offering at Coya is healthy, though I’ll plead the fifth on dessert. It’s all too easy though, to sit drinking Pisco Sours throughout a meal (we DID try one each, purely in the interest of research).
Now there’s a new option in the form of a comprehensive juice menu where you can create your own mixture from over thirty ingredients or pick one of the special healthy recipes designed by the restaurant. There are three sections – smoothies, cleanses and boosters – and since my body is most definitely NOT a temple of health I went for one from the ‘cleanses’ option. Salsita, combining plum vine tomato, kale, cilantro, celery, tabasco and seasoning. I was expecting something close to a virgin Mary, but the drink is actually a lot thicker and is green from the kale and cilantro (coriander). It WAS refreshing and it did feel cleansing. Meanwhile Madeleine was enjoying her berrilicious smoothie with raspberries, blackberries, pomegranate, apple, honey and ginger.
Both drinks were refreshing and well balanced, avoiding that overwhelming sweetness that you sometimes find in juices. I also found mine very filling, almost a meal in itself. That, however, didn’t stop me from enjoying the set lunch menu, which at £29.50 for three courses is excellent value.
We started with Lubina Clasico, a sea bass ceviche with red onions, sweet potato and white corn. Light, delicate and very fresh we both loved this piquant ceviche with crunchy corn and tender sea bass.
Our second dish, Salmon Nikkei was equally delicious with careful spicing and a hint of coriander complementing the ginger, daikon and wasabi. The concept of Nikkei cuisine demonstrates so well that fusion cuisine is nothing new, just the natural integration of the cuisines from an immigrant population into a new territory. The Japanese began to settle in Peru in the late nineteenth century and this fusion cuisine is born of the fabulous fresh seafood and vegetables available in Peru married to traditional Japanese cooking techniques and flavours.
We went on to a second course of tiny tuna tacos with a little citrussy yuzu and wasabi and a salad of quinoa, coriander, mint and pomegranate.
It’s always a great reflection on the kitchen when something I am not particularly keen on but order on the recommendation of the staff turns out to be amazing and the quinoa salad was just that. I could have stopped right here. But there was more to come.
Main courses were a Sea Bream fillet with a fennel salad and chicken from the Josper with garlic and coriander. The effect of cooking the chicken breast on the josper was to produce a delicate and tender meat without any of the dryness you sometimes get from grilled chicken.
The Sea Bream had a lovely charred skin and was well matched with the fennel salad.
On to dessert – we ordered the parfait de arabicas – a mixture of kiwicha (a Peruvian superfood seed), caramelised bananas and a little Zacapa 23yr old rum. And, a selection of ice-creams, including one made from quinoa!
Dining at Coya was an excellent experience on my last visit and that hasn’t changed. And, now I can justify visiting again because it is, obviously, very healthy….
118 Piccadilly, Mayfair,
London W1J 7NW
For reservations please call 0207 042 7118