What is the main focus of COYA?
Before we opened COYA we considered all the main concepts that are coming from Peru. When it comes to alcohol, the main item is obviously Pisco. Number two is Ceviche and Tiraditos (raw fish Carpaccio blended with chillies). When you look at our kitchen, we are concentrating on those two elements in a major way. And everything else on the menu is to represent the Japanese, Chinese and Spanish influence.
How do you like the new location at Angel Court?
We adapt certain things to the city we’re in (e.g. measurements like pints) while still keeping the COYA brand alive and adapting to what the market demands. For example, here at COYA Angel Court, our bar area operates much quicker than elsewhere and we have more choices of wine by the glass because we’re located in the City – at lunch it has to be ‘in and out’.
How Peruvian is the interior?
Most of the furniture comes from Peru, but some has been custom-built for us in Bali by a man who approached us and wanted to do something for us. All the big tables come directly from Peru and all the chairs come from Bali, while the ironwork has been done in London. The overarching theme of all COYA restaurants internationally is very similar, however each one has a unique character and layout.
What can we expect from your bar area upon entering the restaurant?
We have a lot of Pisco infusions that catch your eye. We started those infusions a month before opening. This is the best time of the year with all the fruits coming in, like raspberries and strawberries. In COYA Dubai we have the biggest Pisco library in the world, about 250 litres, and we are constantly circulating the whole Pisco stock. Depending on the ingredients, we infuse the fruit from 10 days up to two months.
Which other unique drinks do you offer?
Within the Pisco Lounge at COYA Angel Court we have a focus on tequilas, rums (in particular Zacapa), South American wines, sake and of course Pisco. Our Pisco Library is very impressive, with a menu map of cocktails to take guests on a journey to discover Latin American flavours.
Our signatures include the South American classic, The Pisco Sour, and a COYA favourite, the Chilli Margarita, both given a secret twist exclusive to COYA Angel Court.
What was your first impression when you first went to Peru?
Peru is so vibrant, I will never forget my first trip. I went to the food market and the colours just blew me away. I come from India and we’re all about colours and flavour. And Peru is the same, there are so many similarities but in particular the vibrant culture is very similar. This is reflected in our restaurants through the interiors, team members and the food.
How does the kitchen reflect Peruvian cooking?
We have an open kitchen in all our COYAs to allow our guests to see what’s happening and become more engaged. We want to give that theatre effect, which adds to the whole COYA experience. It’s all open display.
Peru is heavily influenced by Japanese and Chinese food. You could call Ceviche the new sushi. You don’t use wasabi or soya, you just use chillies and lime. That’s how I would describe it. It gives you endless possibilities to play with ingredients. For example, Peru has so many different types of chillies. And they use chilli for everything, depending on the strength.
What is the most important thing when preparing Ceviche?
The thing about Ceviche – and what is extremely important for us at COYA – is to get the balance of lime, chilli and fish just right. You should be able to taste all these three things, but none of them should be saying “I’m the boss.” They are all three masters of each other. It’s very difficult to get that balance right. I always strive to make the perfect Ceviche. Have I achieved it? No. But we get better and better. You can always improve.