Promising a fusion of Peruvian, Argentinian, Mexican and Brazilian flavours, I was both intrigued and excited to try Zuaya, a new restaurant in the centre of High Street Kensington.
The restaurant, though relatively large has a feeling of intimacy as it’s been divided into several spaces. Have a seat downstairs in the stylish dining room or stay on the ground floor for lunch or a drink at the bar.
The jungle-inspired space is rather gorgeous, with a hanging garden and an utterly Instagrammable brass and marble bar.
It’s worth coming to Zuaya for the cocktails alone, of course there’s a pisco sour on the menu but Laura and I both opted for a Porn Star Martini. It was perfectly made with fresh passion fruit and the accompanying champagne shot comes in a quirky glass skull.
Head-chef Francisco Lafee has worked at Michelin-starred Barrafina in London and El Celler de Can Roca (previously the world’s best restaurant) in Spain so expectations are high.
Zuaya is the kind of place where you just order lots of items on the menu to share and our waitress suggested a few dishes for us, the starter being the signature ceviche sharing plate.
Presented in a unique bird cage-like tower we started with the ceviche a la brasa which is made up of fresh sea bream, red onion, peruvian corn, sweet potato ice-cream and rocoto
tiger milk. I love ceviche and this slightly warm version was delicious, I wasn’t 100% sold on the sweet potato ice cream but it was better than I thought it would be!
The next plate was mango tiradito with green Mango, kiwicha (a little like quinoa) and yellow Aji tiger milk which was delicious and refreshing but very heavy on the mango. You have to be a big fan of mango to order this, fortunately I am!
Finally the ceviche Zuaya which encompassed fresh stone bass, cherry, raspberry, orange, pink grapefruit, physalis tiger milk. I probably would have enjoyed this ceviche individually as I loved the refreshing citrus flavours but served as part of the trio it was too many sweet fruit flavours and I would have preferred a little more savoury.
Corn cake brulee topped with organic Italian burrata was delicious but listed as one of the starters. The cake itself is caramelised and actually very sweet and whilst it pairs well with the creamy burrata, I would have preferred this as a cheese course or even a dessert, it felt slightly odd coming before the main course.
The trio of tacos was one of my favourite dishes and we tried all three options. Laura loved the lamb shank, Moroccan Ras El Hanout, smoked pineapple and coriander while the deliciously spicy Scottish salmon, with chalaca sauce, sweet cucumber, coriander dressing and wasabi peanut was my favourite. The third was a tasty roasted squid and basil chimichurri, fried Peruvian potato and dried capers. I’m not sure what the wraps were are the weren’t the usual tortilla wraps or tacos shells but softer like pancakes.
Our first main course was Iberic pork and guasacaca Sauce and confit butternut squash. I personally don’t order pork often but I really loved this dish, it was beautifully cooked and so well matched with the sauces, definitely a triumph. Also successful were the Madagascar tiger prawns with a deliciously crisp sweet potato panko with passion fruit and yellow aji. I didn’t find the fruit too overpowering as I had with some of the other dishes. On the side we enjoyed a side of polenta which I found a lovely and light accompaniment to the dishes. FYI portions are small even for the main courses so you will need a few dishes if you’re hungry.
The jungle cheese cake dessert – a delicious mix of creamy cake, passion fruit and biscuits was utterly wonderful! Slightly less successful was our other dessert, cream topped with candy floss didn’t really cohere as a dessert and it wouldn’t be something I’d order again. Laura and I really enjoyed lunch at Zuaya though I think I’d prefer it as an evening place as apparently it’s very buzzy with DJs and dimmed lighting.
Fellow Instragrammers will be interested to know that Insta hotspot, Kynance Mews is less than a ten minute walk away so perfect to stop by for a photo opportunity afterwards!