coya: the trendiest peruvian restaurant in dubai

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From the moment you walk up to the ornate doors, past the friendly, attentive hosts, and into the large, contemporary venue that’s always buzzing, you know this place is special. Rich colours are just one of many ways the restaurant has referenced its South American roots, along with plenty of dark wood and wrought iron – adding up to a seriously attractive venue.

The menu is overwhelming for a first time visitor, which is why the Tasting Menu is recommended by our waiter, Martin, who just so happens to be Peruvian, and thankfully so. Divided into four courses, the chef will prepare all the signature dishes to share beginning with Ceviches, then Anticuchos and Para Picar, followed by the main dishes, and finally desserts.

Course one begins with five different Ceviches. The first, Remolacha y Queso de Cabra, is a light and flavourful salad made of golden beets, aji amarillo, goat cheese, and hazlenuts. Martin informed us the secret behind Peruvian cuisine are four different types of chilli, particularly aji amarillo, and it is used in several dishes at Coya. The second, Lubina Clasica, is sea bass  bathed in white corn and sweet potato, and garnished with red onion.

The Salmon Nikkei, comprising of salmon, celery juice, ginger, daikon and wasabi tobiko, was light and delicious. The wasabi tobiko and ginger with the salmon are a familiar and welcomed combination. A more flavorful and texture filled ceviche is the Lubina Ecuatoriana – sea bass with tomato, avocado, red onion and corn. The final ceviche, which was recommended to eat last, is the Atun Chifa – spicy and mouth watering yellowfin tuna with sesame seeds, soy and garnished with a shrimp cracker.

The second course is made up of Anticucho, marinated skewers fired on charcoal grill, and Para Picar (or small dishes). The chicken skewers were grilled tender with aji amarillo and garlic, and the forest mushroom skewers were juicy and tasty.

One of the highlights of the night was the Camarones con Quinoa, a stir-fry quinoa with aji panca, and prawns. This was accompanied by Josper corn salad with crispy corn, sweet onions and red chillies. Of the heartier main dishes, the spicy beef fillet with crispy shallots and garlic stood out, as did a cazuela, or hot pot, filled with chilean seabass, rice, lime and chilli – a flavorsome, tangy take on a risotto

The Pulpo Rostizado, roasted octopus with potato bottarga and botija olives, was flawless to say the least. The incorporation of crispy octopus with pureed potato was an interesting play with texture and also unique in taste. There are plenty of other treats to be had too – hot, crispy patatas bravas, drizzled with spicy tomatoes and a seriously addictive huancaina sauce, which disappeared in a flash.

I’m aware that I’m gushing here, but I’ll admit I will continue to do so when describing desserts. The Corn sundae with sweet corn ice cream and caramel popcorn had a varied range of textures and the subtle sweet flavours were delicious. We ended our meal brilliantly with the salted caramel ganache with a side of raspberry sorbet and garnished with candied orange. This dessert is a definite gem in the making. The ganache is rich, silky smooth and to die for. The raspberry sorbet offsets the sweetness of the salted caramel ganache nicely and the candied orange adds a beautiful texture as well.

Lastly, allow me to end with another gush — this one for the thoroughly professional staff. Dish descriptions and wine pairings were bang-on, the meal unfolded at just the right pace and, most importantly, they were patient with my rather slow pace of eating. Excellent — just like most everything about a night at Coya.

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