Coya: Queen of the perfect lunch

Grab an exotic set-lunch without breaking the bank

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Coya is the sister restaurant to Zuma and although you can tell they’re related they couldn’t be more opposite. Where Zuma’s interiors are more clinical and neat, Coya is the exotic, voluptuous, raven haired, South American beauty whose looks could kill you in one glance. Coya is Peruvian for empress or Queen, having been to this restaurant on more than one occasion, I feel I’d like to meet her!

Coya is as beautiful inside as her name suggests, there is lots of exotic wood features, the bar and seating areas are awash in sumptuous shades of gold and purple, fabrics from saffron velvet to deep-red ochre leather, combined with moody lighting and brightly coloured oil paintings give a feel of real decadence. Incan sculptures dot the space, and totem candleholders look like they belong in a castle in Peru. There is even a semi-secret, invitation-only private members club which is beautiful and highly exclusive and just scoring a regular reservation is nearly impossible.

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Getting a reservation for lunch is less difficult but just as enjoyable. Our waiter(s) were extremely attentive and the lunch menu has so much choice that it’s difficult to decide what to go for. There is always a choice of skewers), ceviches – raw fish and  which are like tapas. Some people don’t like small plates, but for lunch, I love the small plate concept because you can eat a variety of different types of foods and sample such different textures and flavours all in one meal. It won't break the bank either - three courses cost AED 130 and four courses AED 140. This is great value because the quality, sophistication and elegance of the food and beverage options available here are second to none.

Coya’s lunch menu does come with a warning though! Do not eat the delicious but very filling snacks whilst you look over the menu. The homemade guacamole that is made in front of your eyes, is smooth and creamy and combined with crunchy corn tortilla chips makes for delicious munching. However, it can be filling and you don’t want to miss out on the main events.

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We dived into spectacular starters which really showcased why Coya is an internationally reknowned restaurant. Let’s start with the ceviche. We sampled the Dorada Criolla – Sea bass ceviche – a signature dish and you can taste why, it is simply sublime! Think smooth texture on the tongue and holding just the right amount of tangy flavour.

The second dish we sampled was the Calabicinas y Hongos – a vegetarian ceviche made out of delicate courgette and meaty shitake mushroom. As an accompaniment to the sea bass it worked really well, delicious, fresh and crunchy. 

Next came the Ensalada Peruvian – nothing to write home about but very crisp and green, I could feel my body thanking me for such goodness in terms of the quality of the ingredients used.

So after those starters we moved onto the main courses. First out the door was the Lomo Saltado – beautifully seasoned, melt-in-the-mouth beef, so good...i'm lost for words.

To finish our mains off we went for the Salmon with golden Beetroot. This was cooked perfectly, succulent and the right side of pink. The topping was a mildly spicy tomato salsa which give the salmon a lovely kick and reminded you of the Peruvian love for heat in their food. This dish was by far my favourite, I could eat it every day of the week

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For those of you who don’t have to dash back to the office, special emphasis has been put on handcrafted libations, with a cocktail list that's broken into several categories: Peruvian spirits (think pisco sour, chilcano thyme, Peruvian julep, and Coya mule which all go extremely well with the guacamole), barrel-aged cocktails, light and mild, and hot, spicy, and smokey. The wine is list is dangerous and lengthy.

Me encanta Coya and I will be back for lunch, for dinner or just a cocktail. There are very few venues that get that mix of exclusivity and opulence whilst including everyone in its welcoming arms. The food is spectacular and I can not recommend it enough. The Queen of Business lunches reins supreme in my book! 

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Written By

Ema Linaker