Coya Miami is a work in progress

Posted March 18, 2015


Full disclosure: I have never gone to a restaurant and wanted to like it more than Coya. Arjun Waney, the venture capitalist behind Zuma, my favorite restaurant, decided more than a year ago to bring his London-based Peruvian restaurant to Miami.

Opening at 999 Brickell Ave., less than two miles away from Zuma, the restaurant offers a wide range of Peruvian cuisine including a ceviche bar, a pisco bar specializing in “bespoke pisco infusions,” and a menu of classic Peruvian dishes.

I was disappointed to hear that Coya would be not be opening and had delayed its official opening until the week of March 2.

Fortunately, after pulling a few strings and thanks to the draw of the South Beach Food and Wine Festival, I was able to get a sneak peak at the restaurant.

I will have to go to the restaurant when it is up and running, maybe a few weeks in, to really give them a fair shake. Having been to the London Coya, I can say that it is similar.

Just in the same way that the thing that makes Zuma so great is its uniformity, Coya is the same. Whether you go to the Zuma at the Epic Hotel in downtown Miami or the Zuma on Madison Avenue in New York, you will find the same things. The same great food. The same service. The same menu. The best Japanese brunch out there.

Coya is the same way. The food screams authentic without going too outside the box. It’s been jazzed up and mainstreamed for the sophisticated crowd. This is not a restaurant that you go with the kids and tell them “try it, it tastes like chicken.” This is also not a restaurant you go to for a cheap meal. Just like Zuma, It’s pricey.

The question you have to ask yourself is, what are you willing to pay for good food? You will easily pack $40 to $50 a head, plus gratuity. Just like Zuma, there is a mandatory 18 percent service charge added to the bill for your convenience.

Service charges I will never understand. They end up tipping their waiters less than what I would give, just for the chance that someone might not realize and double tip? Please.

Before the restaurant even opens Coya is already drawing comparisons. Right down the street is another upscale Peruvian restaurant La Mar. La Mar is located at the Mandarin Oriental, a half mile away from Coya.

It will be the little things that separate the two. Coya will presumably serve some sort of brunch and it will probably be inspired by the same still of offers Zuma holds.

The ceviche was comparable to La Mar. High end, modestly priced and medium to small portion size. I, personally, would rather a small portion of something great than a large portion of something bad.

The best thing I tried was the yellowfin tuna with yuzu and huacati. It reminded me of something you would see on the Japanese Zuma restaurant menu, but with a little bit of Peruvian flare. I would definitely order it again.

The décor is modern. I can’t say I’m surprised. It’s not that different than either Zuma that I’ve visited. If I was blindfolded and brought into the restaurant and told this was the new backroom of Zuma, I wouldn’t be surprised. Coya clearly hired the same decorator.

  • Coya Miami
  • 999 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, Fla.
  • 305-415-9990
    Hours: Lunch: Mondays – Fridays: 12 p.m. – 3 p.m., Dinner: Mondays – Thursdays: 6 p.m. – 12 a.m., Fridays – Saturdays: 6 p.m. – 12:30 a.m.
  • Cuisine: Peruvian
  • Price: $$$
  • Dress Code: Fine dining. Smart casual
  • Payment options: AMEX, Carte Blanche, Diners Club, Discover, JCB, MasterCard, Visa
  • Rating: 4 out of 5