Fusion food is often difficult to get right. There’s such a fine line between brilliant and shambolic. A little too much to the right or left and what ensues is an overcomplicated disarray of flavours which just confuses the palate. Walk straight down the line though and the outcome is a multi-dimensional dish that marries together entire food cultures. There are a couple of fine examples in London of chefs who know how to walk this tight-rope. Anna Hansen’s Modern Pantry is one (see here for one of my previous posts), and Peter Gordon’s much-acclaimed Providores in Marylebone (which I haven’t visited for some years) is another.
Kopapa is Peter Gordon’s latest venture into fusion food. Located at the heart of Covent Garden in the regenerated Seven Dials area, it’s billed as a more easy-come-easy go all day cafe-restaurant relative to its smarter fine dining Marylebone based sister. You have a choice of ordering either a selection of tapas sized dishes to share or you can opt instead for the more substantially sized mains. Be prepared though – just reading the menu here is like watching an all-day marathon of Globe Trekker on the Travel Channel. New Zealand Oysters in a miso-gazpacho broth and Chickpea battered lamb-brains in a tomato masala give you a sense of just how adventurous Kopapa’s spread of food is. Do fasten your seatbelts…
The Highlights: My favourite of the night was undoubtedly the Oysters – surprising, given I don’t usually like Oysters all that much. But the savoury miso broth and sweet-tangy gazpacho provided the perfect platform off which the fresh-out-of-the-sea Oysters could shine. The best thing I’ve had in a shot glass for as long as I can remember. The Chermoula-martinated Tiger Prawns are also worth a mention – wonderfully plump and juicy with a delicately balanced Moroccan spice marinade, it was lifted to the next level by the sharp zing from the Watermelon pickle. I also really enjoyed the Mixed Platter – a classic, understated spread of some of the best thick-cut Smoked salmon and regional Spanish specialities I’ve tasted in a while.
The Weird: The Sticky Coconut Pork Ribs didn’t work for us at all. We had ordered it more out of sheer curiosity, crossing our fingers that it wouldn’t taste exactly as it sounded, i.e. overkilled with sickly sweet coconut. Unfortunately it was exactly that…. and though the meat was very juicy and tender, after the first few bites, it started to get overwhelmingly OTT.
Our dessert, a Chocolate and Sherry tart with Plum-wine sorbet was a real treat. The Chocolate was velvety-rich with a a subtle undertone of Pedro Ximenez Sherry…. then came the icy-fresh kick from the plum wine sorbet to cut through the richness. A harmonious dish.
On the whole, I really liked Kopapa and can definitely see myself returning. The warm front of house team was very efficient, and the adventurous food (though sometimes off the mark) is one heck of a roller-coaster ride. My one gripe about the place though is that they’ve packed a few too many covers than they can chew here – adjoining tables are so close that full details of conversations can be overheard while waiters through no fault of their own were bumping into tables given the lack of space. That aside though, chalk up another good Kiwi-run fusion restaurant to the London scene and yet another reliable option for the rejuvenated Seven Dials-Theatre distric area.
32-34 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9HA | www.kopapa.co.uk | ingested Sat 22nd Jan 2010