Like many a fine dining establishment in Dubai, Coya has been on my radar for awhile. And, as a quick side note, I truly appreciate when restaurants offer excellent lunch menus during the day. While I realize (yes, of course) most people are working and do not have the time to take advantage of these opportunities, for me, it’s a good way to determine if I would like to come back for another visit.
Having recently visited Totora, I was curious to see what one of the more established Peruvian restaurants of Dubai would yield.
In their words:
Surrounding a central Ceviche Counter and overlooking the Brassa Grill, diners can enjoy the theatre of the chefs’ skilful preparation of dishes that are served to share in a social and familial style of dining. Surrounded by vibrant Incan colours, diners have the opportunity to appreciate the bespoke furniture complemented by the antique Latin American artwork.
The venue, if you’ve not been, is a one of a kind in Dubai. With ample amount of space, the interior leans heavily into its Latin American roots (a look I appreciated). Broken into three sections, there is a members only bar, the Pisco lounge and a dining room, each with a very distinctive feel. With the range of colors and attention to detail, it was a little like being on a movie set.
For their business lunch, Coya offers a selection of smaller bites (pick 2) and a main course (pick 1) for the cost of AED130 — a bargain, no matter how you look at it (even with a bottle of water and taxes, the meal topped out at AED160).
After ordering a Pisco Sour (I mean, really, was I going to leave a Peruvian restaurant without one? The answer to this question will always be ‘no’), we went over the menu with one of the many highly knowledgeable service staff members. After making our selections, our waitress delivered our orders to the kitchen and promptly returned to offer complimentary tableside guacamole. Fresh avocado and chips are always a great start to a meal.
As one of my starters, the Salmón Nikkei Salmon (celery juice, ginger, daikon, wasabi tobiko) was something I wasn’t going to pass up. The ceviche was light and crisp, with an excellent blend of lime and celery juice. In comparison to Totora’s offer, I can’t say one was better than the other, as I would definitely order both again. Next up was my favorite of the appetizers, the (vegetarian!!!) Maki Roll de Aguacate y Sesamo (with Shiitake, aji limo, avocado, quinoa, black sesame). Honestly, other than Moshi‘s falafel roll, it’s rare to come across anything resembling sushi that doesn’t have a traditional protein. Swapping in shiitake mushrooms and divinely toasted quinoa, I certainly didn’t miss fish of any kind. I hate to gush, but this is the kind of dish that I would make a special trip for.
To finish our starters, we ordered a delicious Ensalada de Espinaca (Spinach, aji mirasol, sesame, radish), which was finished with the perfect amount of nuttiness in the sauce. While it wasn’t initially my favorite, I found myself continually reaching for an additional bit of salad (and would love to know the recipe for the sauce). The Gyoza de Lubina y Langostinos (Sea bass, prawn, aji amarillo, coriander, yuzu koshu) was an interesting concept…but not one that completely delivered. The Gyoza (in their traditional dumpling presentation) were topped by a flaky pastry (which, unfortunately to me and my dining companion, served little to no purpose). The gyoza themselves were tasty, so my suggestion would be to remove the weird (and unneccessary) topper.
As for my main, I debated on a number of the seafood options, but ultimately decided on the Filete de Dorada (Sea bream, fennel salad) while my dining partner chose the Lomo Saltado (Tenderloin, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, Peruvian rice). While I was impressed with the plating of the sea bass and the crunch of the fennel, it was just a bit…fishy in taste for me (I wasn’t alone in this opinion, as my dining partner felt the same). I thought the portion size was perfect, but would not order the plate again. The beef however (my kind dining partner was lovely enough to share her dish with me), was cooked to perfection and deceptively filling.
Although we were pleasantly full, the generous staff at Coya decided we shouldn’t leave without dessert and sent over a new favorite! Chicha Morada (Peruvian purple corn colada, passion fruit and strawberry, orange shortbread) is the perfect dish for summer. With tart berries and sugary granitas, this is better than ice cream. A true palate cleanser, this is a great deal at AED42.
Would I go back to Coya? Absolutely and without hesitation! Both the tasting menu and Friday brunch look especially interesting.