A hungry vegetarian at Coya Dubai
The opening of Coya Dubai has been eagerly anticipated by many a Dubai gastronaut.* Having been to Coya in London last summer, I was really enthused when I learned of its opening at the new Four Seasons Jumeirah. So the first opportunity I had, I took my two brothers there for dinner, and they kindly agreed to eat just veggie food that evening so we could have more variety.
Our dinner reservation was for 8:30pm on a Sunday night but we arrived a little early. As we entered the restaurant we were greeted by the warm and friendly hostesses and escorted to the bar. The lounge area and attached outdoor area were somewhat quiet as would be expected for an early weeknight, so we just took a seat at an empty table and ordered a couple of drinks. As soon as our table was ready we moved over to the dining area, and as the evening progressed we noticed the restaurant filling up completely.
The dimly lit restaurant definitely has a South American character. From the earthy wooden finishes to the warmth of the staff, you definitely feel very relaxed and comfortable from the get go. Each chair in the dining area has a cute little tray for your handbag built into it, which slides out from under your seat, a clever idea! As we had a look through the menu, we realized that there are several vegetarian options. Since it’s another sharing concept restaurant and most of the veggie options listed were small dishes, salads or sides, we were tempted to order every vegetarian dish listed on the menu, however the waitress suggested that would be too much, so we settled for 11 of the 18 dishes listed.
The Guacamole arrived first with both corn chips and shrimp crackers, despite our request for just extra corn chips, a minor mistake, so we decided to ignore it. The guacamole itself was pretty standard, but being a lover of all things avocado, I enjoyed it.
The Edamame followed shortly thereafter, which was by far the best Edamame I have ever had. The light sweetness together with the charred yellow pepper flavours and delicious crunch of the crispy garlic really worked well together.
The remaining cold appetizers arrived shortly thereafter, and all at once:
The Calabacines y Hongos, a courgette and shitake mushroom ceviche with mint and garlic chips, was a raw and vegan friendly dish. A nicely presented dish, perfect for the trending #cleaneats hashtag. It was decent, but wasn’t my favourite dish of the evening.
Of course we had to order the infamous Ensalata de Quinoa, the delicious quinoa salad with coriander, mint and pomegranate, a dish I had thoroughly enjoyed on my last visit to the London restaurant. It was even better than I had remembered, the spices and the honey were balanced perfectly – Dubai’s best quinoa salad so far.
The Ensalada de Maiz consisted of Peruvian Jasper corn with sweet corn and crispy (deep fried) corn – a flavorsome combination of 3 different textures, however the texture of the sweet corn was a little undercooked.
The last of the cold dishes, the Ensalada Peruana had a delicious dressing – we could taste the delicious flavours of tamarind, honey and Peruvian mustard with red and yellow peppers – a mouthwatering combination.
The hot dishes also pretty much arrived altogether:
We absolutely loved the mushroom (Setas) skewers, which had the perfect amount of heat. The tofu skewers (Verduras con Tofu) had pretty much the same seasoning as the mushrooms, however the tofu itself tasted slightly off.
The Papa Seca con Setas y Trufa was probably the most substantial dish, but still on the smaller side. This hot pot combined the soft texture of Peruvian dried potatoes with the strong flavours of wild mushrooms and black truffle, in a light creamy sauce.
We also ordered 2 sides: Espárragus Peruanos, Peruvian asparagus with a tangy tomato dressing, which pleasantly gave off the smoky char-grilled flavour. The sprouting broccoli (Brocóli) with chilli garlic butter and sesame was also quite good.
Honestly speaking, while we thoroughly enjoyed the taste of the food, I wasn’t completely full after the savoury dishes – everything was quite small and light and I personally could have used a couple more substantial vegetarian dishes.
Since we had room, we ordered two desserts to share. The Chicha Morada, which is traditionally a Peruvian corn-based purple beverage, but this was prepared as a sorbet instead, and served with fresh berries and orange shortbread. We found this to be a little bit too icy for our liking, so we didn’t finish it. We also ordered the lime tart (Tarta de Limón) with poached apricots, which was enjoyable, but could have been served a little bit warmer. We didn’t order the fondant, which apparently is their best seller, so I guess I will have to save that for next time!
Since most of the food was served pretty quickly, the meal did feel slightly rushed. In fact for an 8:30pm reservation, we were already done by 10pm, surprising if you consider the number of dishes we ordered. It would have been nice if the dishes had come out more gradually, which not only fits better with the earthy and relaxed feel of the restaurant, but would have also made the whole sharing concept more enjoyable.
* gastronaut – a person with a keen appreciation for food.
Veggie Friendly: ✔ Vegan Friendly: ✔ (more options with minor substitutions)
Pros: Lots of vegetarian options, earthly relaxed vibe, warm and friendly staff, great location, lovely outdoor terrace with a great view
Cons: Could use a few more substantial veggie options, can be a little rushed
Price: $$$ (200 - 500 AED)
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