Zuaya in Kensington: A parade of lavish and vibrant Latin American plates
Elegance and vibrant colours are staples of Zuaya’s dining experience. Semi-hidden behind its sister Italian venture, Como Garden, the restaurant prides itself on being a gem of Kensington. After our recent visit, we can confirm that this is an apt description. The menu presents a good range of tapas-sized courses, from seafood dishes and meaty bites through to tantalising vegetables, as well as a drinks list featuring a rainbow of tipples with exotic names. Sharing is at the core of the concept – within the appropriate social bubbles, of course. Underneath pretty flowers and inside the smooth bamboo serving trays, comforting and intense flavours await. The tagline of “Latin American food” indeed encompasses a variety of Brazilian, Peruvian and Mexican sways, with sporadic hints of the Mediterranean.
The cosy interior, exuding forest vibes, is attractive – especially during the wintry spring which London currently offers. The outdoor seating also holds its own allure: in addition to the unobtrusive heaters and duvets available, the setting provides a suave atmosphere. Everything is ready, then, for the punchy parade of plates to begin.
Straight away, the very first bite announces the exquisite blending of culinary elements we are in for: a corn cake, made with Peruvian grains and caramelised with honey, topped with a creamy Italian burrata, melts in the mouth, causing an ecstatic hum. Despite how safe they always sound, the Salted Padron Peppers, done as well as they are here, never cease to please. Moving to the sea-side of the menu, we venture on to the grilled octopus. The tentacles pair nicely with the tender baked sweet potato and the sparing shower of roasted garlic is a delectable final touch. The neatly arranged pieces of Marinated Lemon Chicken are retrieved from the board pretty quickly, covered in a velvety romesco sauce. For the perfect pairing, the meaty tapas needs to be accompanied by a generous portion of patatas bravas. The wow effect, though, is reserved for the Lamb Tacos. A bundle of juicy shredded lamb shank sits on an eye-catching purple tortilla owing its tint to a native South American potato, balanced in acidity by morsels of pineapple.
Despite the fact that we are pretty full at this point, as the saying goes, there is always room for dessert, and it would be a pity to leave Zuaya without having sampled the sweet finale. Prepared with the cocoa of three different regions, the chocolate tart is a luscious piece of cake, sided by a refreshing stracciatella ice cream. Stealing its thunder, though, is the Passion Fruit Créme Brûlée: this reaches a sugary equilibrium, holding all the zest of the fruit within a soft cream that begs to be cleaned up from the small bowl.
Polished, lavish flavour combinations converge on plates of all sizes at Zuaya, displaying a variety of vivid hues and notes worth savouring. While travelling to exotic and far-away parts of the world may be difficult at this moment, this culinary journey – which can be experienced from the comfort of a chair – will leave the visitor and their taste buds well-satisfied.
Photos: Virginie Viche
To book a table at Zuaya, 35B Kensington High Street London W8 5EB, call 020 7938 3533 or visit their website here.