“My biggest tip here is: Do. Not. Share. This dish needs to be eaten in its entirety. By you alone.”
There’s no doubting the popularity of Middle Eastern and Peruvian food in London at the moment. But the latest cuisine-driven trend to tippy-toe up and surprise us, is Vietnamese.
The fresh, punchy cuisine of this South East Asian region is luring Londoners with its famed balance of the Big Four: salty, sweet, sour, heat. We’re loving it. Its light in the mouth and zingy on the palette, offering a freshness that sits nicely with our other current foodie preoccupation: a “healthy food lifestyle”. In reality no-one on this healthy food bender knows quite how much sugar goes into Vietnamese food. Best kept that way.
Holloway used to be a long way away. Now it’s conveniently located within the warm embrace of Kings Cross. No, it hasn’t moved. Real estate and marketing types appear to have re-cast Holloway as an outpost of Kings Cross. So when you’re heading to Côba – the newest in London’s swag of groovy Vietnamese restaurants – do bear in mind that it’s a good half hour walk from Kings Cross station through a series of construction sites (or grab a bus – a much better idea) But do go. Côba is definitely worth the trek.
Chef and co-owner, Damon Bui is Vietnamese-Australian and his heritage shows in the authentic rendering of his dishes. Côba is a wonderful space of clean lines, fabulous lighting and elegant signage. And as you’d expect, the food is a great match for the fit out. The best prawn toast I’ve had. Ever. Now that’s quite a claim, but the skilful balance of the Big Four elements nailed it for me. The flavours tingled in my mouth for some time after devouring this dish. My biggest tip here is: Do. Not. Share. This dish needs to be eaten in its entirety. By you alone.
Service is delightful and charming but still finding its feet on our visit during soft launch. All kinks will most definitely be ironed out as the team gets used to the space and the different demands that come with running a regular restaurant as opposed to a supperclub. Broad smiles and endearing personalities more than make up for teensy service oversights.
The zing in Vietnamese food comes from loads of fresh herbs, lime, sometimes ground coriander roots, fermented fish sauce and flashes of chilli. It doesn’t tend to be overly scorchio in the mouth though, as the chilli is largely served separately or in a dressing to the side. All this makes Vietnamese fare very appealing to British palates and CôBa is a very fine example of the emerging ‘new vietnamese’, giving the old school stalwarts of Kingsland Road some solid competition. We wish them all the very best.
244 York Way,
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