Review: Friday brunch at COYA Abu Dhabi

A Peruvian-style party brunch serving brilliant food

Review: Friday brunch at COYA Abu Dhabi
Review: Friday brunch at COYA Abu Dhabi Image #2

If you ever ask people what the best brunch in Abu Dhabi is (it’s a favourite topic of ours), COYA is often one of the top answers.

If you don’t agree, just turn up here at 12.30pm and you’ll find it already teaming with people who know what we mean.

Upon arrival, instead of charging straight into the buffet, the hostess will lead you into the bar for welcome drinks.

We’ll admit, at first we’re a bit taken aback by this change in brunching routine, but upon squeezing into the packed bar, where a DJ is already blasting out tunes, it already feels like the party has properly started before it’s even hit 1pm. The atmosphere is buzzing, and while you sip your first Latin-inspired mixed drink or mocktail, you’ll soon realise you’re in for a  very fun afternoon.

Before long, people will start filtering into the vibrant dining room, which is filled with natural light thanks to the huge floor-to-ceiling windows. Staff explain that there’s a buffet of salads, ceviches and sushi, while everything else is brought to the table.

Guacamole kicks things off nicely, with a choice of prawn crackers and tortillas for dipping with. After devouring those, we’re off to check out the buffet, and return with a super cheesy and fruity kale and manchego salad, an interesting salad of grilled corn, tomatoes and lychees, and creamy burrata with sweet tomatoes and olives. It’s all fresh, colourful and totally lovely.

There’s a wide choice of ceviches but the maki roll selection is a bit modest for us (we do have a bit of an obsession with them, admittedly).

However, the avocado and mushroom and tuna and avocado rolls are superb, and with so much more to come,  we know it’s a good job that we’re not just filling up on sushi. Everything at the buffet is labelled clearly, and the staff are taking the full dining room and all the drinks orders in their stride. It’s simple things like this that really should be commonplace, but often isn’t, so when a venue is nailing the service we sit up and take notice.

Next to arrive at the table are bao buns filled with chicken and sweetcorn, sea bass fish balls and fried calamari with a green chilli sauce. The sauce with the latter is perhaps the only thing we try all day that doesn’t really impress us, but the calamari itself is cased in perfect light batter.

The spicy bao buns and tasty fish balls are so good we could eat them for days. If you think that’s quite enough starters, you’d be wrong. Next up there are anticucho skewers, sitting nicely over a small charcoal grill. The succulent chicken is our clear favourite.

The brunch includes one main course each, and we go for the Chilean sea bass with rice, lime and chilli, and a salmon fillet with soy sauce, quinoa and vegetables.

The sea bass is a sensation, served in a iron pan with creamy rice and loads of fresh fish, with just the right amount of spice and citrus. The salmon is less memorable, but the soy dressing is still pretty dreamy. The side of creamed corn is the one dish we can’t stop raving about, however. Thick, creamy, sweet and rich, it demands spoonful after spoonful.

The dessert buffet includes fresh churros with chocolate sauce and, our favourite, avocado mousse cake. Other choices include a good tres leches cake.

After all that you’d be forgiven for not wanting to get back on the dancefloor, but we guarantee you’ll give it a go.
Dhs238 (soft drinks), Dhs378 (house beverages), Dhs498 (bubbly). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 306 7000).

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