Coya Opens in Brickell Today

Coya, restaurateur Arjun Waney's London-based concept with a second outpost in Dubai, is open for business in Brickell today.

Waney has already brought to Miami his other high-end concept, Zuma. Now he's expanding his offerings with a taste of Peruvian food unlike anything else around.

See also: Coya Is Set For a Late February Opening in Brickell

Coya's design is reminiscent of an Incan palace. "In Miami, everything is very modern, but we are all about Latin American influences," says managing director Adam Bel Hadj Amar. That means a lot of colonial touches. Antique furniture was brought in from Peru; titanic pisco jars were made in France by a specialty glass blower. You can spot the latter when you walk in, filled with infusions such as strawberry, raspberry, and passionfruit. "They take about eight to 16 weeks or even up to a year." That means the 20 or so planned pisco infusions are not on the menu just yet.

The pisco lounge is a place to have a drink and dinner if you don't mind music while you eat. If you're looking for a more regal experience, however, head through the dimly lit wine corridor and into the main dining room, or as it is aptly called, "the gold room." The space features mustard-toned velvet chairs, a golden ceviche and tiradito bar, gold walls, and even tables stained gold. "We were going for a sexy and sultry environment but paying respect to the gold cities from Incan culture." Indeed, Incan sculptures dot the space, and totem candleholders look like they belong in a castle in Peru. "We're bringing up the standards, you could say."

There's also a members' lounge for well. "It's like the king's room." And what do kings want? To be waited on hand and foot. For an undisclosed annual membership fee, you can get just that. "The waitstaff gets to know you, and they don't even need to bring you a menu -- they'll know what you want." So, servers and psychics. Nice. Lockers allow members to store their own cigars, bottles, and whatever else they want to keep at Coya. And they get their own terrace -- because kings don't share terrace space with commoners.

As for the menu, the general idea here is to marry ingredients native to Peru with modern approaches but still showing and paying respect to the evolution of Peruvian cuisine. Think ceviches like Mediterranean sea bass with red onions, sweet potato, and white corn; seabream with ají amarillo, crispy corn, and cilantro; yellowfin tuna with soy, sesame seeds, and shrimp cracker; zucchini and shiitake with mint and garlic chips; as well as tiraditos like salmón with aji mirasol, quinoa, and onion escabeche; yellowtail with green chili and radish; and swordfish with dashi, truffle oil, and chives. There are also small dishes such as quinoa chaufa, lomo saltado or salmon sushi rolls, and corn salad. A plethora of anticuchos are available, from tiger prawns to the traditional ox heart and even mushrooms.

Entrées boast everything from seafood and meats to iron pots filled with Peruvian dried potatoes, butternut squash, and a poached egg or Chilean sea bass, rice, lime, and chilies. Think pulpo al olivo, chicken wings with a tamarind glaze, spicy tenderloin with spring onions, aji rocoto and star anise, and a 28-day-aged rib of beef with a field of mushrooms. You can get a serving of veggies too, with Peruvian asparagus with tomato dressing, broccoli with chili and garlic butter, and crispy potatoes in a blend of spicy tomato and huancaína sauce.

A prix-fixe menu of three courses for $29 will be offered for lunch daily and ideal for Brickell's corporate and young professional crowd. Dinner prices range from $7 for anticuchos and $11 for ceviches to upward of $44 for entrees.

Special emphasis will be 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), barrel-aged cocktails, light and mild, and hot, spicy, and smoky.

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Carla Torres found her inner gourmand voice while writing for Miami New Times in 2012. She has also worked with Travel & Leisure and Ocean Drive and today is involved with a tech startup. She balances passions for wine, sweets, yoga, and kayaking.