Picking a spot for a work luncheon, it was impossible to ignore Coya’s unique but distinctive fusion of Japanese and Peruvian flavours. Set in what feels like a very stylised pisco lounge, Coya is located in Angel Court, just behind Bank station. I’d passed it many a times en route to pick up my Notes flat white (which is always music to my ears, pun intended). Although the whole space feels very corporate sleek, Angel Court does offer a good options for the City folk: Notes coffee (probably my favourite in the Square Mile), Natural Kitchen, Temper City and Coya. Blending Peruvian/Mexican flavours with Japanese flair, this high-end spot offers vivid colours and emphatic dishes – an ideal way to celebrate the settlement of a big case.
From the owner of ostentatious Knightsbridge bar/restaurant Zuma, high-end Japanese Coya had its first residency in Mayfair, has since opened in Dubai and Miami, and now at a new location in London. Spanning more than 400 square metres and seating 170 guests across the restaurant and bar, the venue has been cleverly designed into different sections so as not to feel cavernous. The jewel-toned, low-lit surroundings of its interior feel very corporate slick: comfortable velvet sofas, hot-pink and deep-purple (Aztec) striped pillows, electric blue walls with washed-out white stone are lined with climbing plants, and crystal-blue tiles surround the kitchen. Lighting is low and the bar, grand and gleaming, stretches the length of the room and is full of Latin American and western spirits. Colourful and dressed with Peruvian objects and handcrafted furniture, it’s a vivid, glamorous-looking space.
The menu is a mixture of contemporary Peruvian dishes – including ceviche and salads – with Japanese tones – think bao buns and robata skewers. As it has a sharing concept at its hear and the menu was hard to choose from (especially in a large party), we left it to the restaurant’s suggestion as to what to bring, provided it included a few vegan options. At the waiters’ suggestion, to open, we shared the Guacamole (£8), served with corn tortillas (and shrimp crackers – though N/A for me!). This was a sheer joy to watch being made: the waiter mashed the avocado at the table, along with a dash of chilli, lime and garlic. The resulting dip combined creaminess with a kick, and paired with the tacos, a good crunch. All in all, this was exactly what you’d hope for from nachos and avocado.
To graze, they offered me the Trio de Maiz (£9), a delightful mix of Josper corn, crispy corn, white corn and sweet onions. This was probably the highlight of the lunch for me: a wonderful cacophony of sweet textures, each kernel of corn danced around on the palette.
From the Robata oven, they brought out Setas (£6), in other words, skewers of forest mushrooms, aji panca and parsley. Like their name, these boasted a meaty texture – my companions had even mistaken them for pork. Though confident and full of flavour, the kitchen could’ve done more than serve a few mushrooms on a stick. With a repertoire of Japanese spices, surely a thoughtful dip could’ve been thrown together?
Moving on to the mains, I was offered a side of Sprouting broccoli and chilli, olive oil and sesame seeds (£6), with Peruvian potatoes, wild mushrooms and summer truffles (£23). Whilst seasonal, the broccoli needed a sauce – I recruited the chilli sauce (served with the crispy potatoes) which may be one of the best chilli sauces I’ve tried: it had a tomato sweetness and a wonderful smokiness. Very moreish. The mushrooms, meanwhile, though luxurious with their truffle grating, were very mushroomy – slightly one-dimensional. Compared with the vibrant flavours of the opening guacamole, the mushrooms paled.
Obligatory in a Peruvian setting, I also enjoyed a Pisco sour. Swapping the egg white with ginger ale, it was delicately sweet, light and bubbly, yet sour and strong.
For a City lunch, Coya offered an enjoyable experience. Above all, its food is full of flavour. Combining inventive ingredients with excellent service and a warm atmosphere, this is a good option if you are looking to impress clients or colleagues.
Coya, 31-33 Throgmorton St, London EC2N 2AT