Absolutely London visits Zuaya, a Latin American jungle on Kensington High Street
By Abbie Schofield
Restaurant Review: Zuaya
It’s not often that I read a menu and could happily enjoy every single dish on it. But that’s what happened when I sat down at Zuaya, Kensington. The Latin American restaurant serves sharing dishes inspired by the cuisines of Peru, Brazil and Mexico, with a bit of a Mediterranean influence thrown in. The result is a plethora of exciting tapas plates, where, unusually for a heavily-themed restaurant, taste is not overshadowed by concept and presentation.
Entering Zuaya is like being swallowed up by a subterranean rainforest. It’s a concept that could easily come off as Rainforest Café rather than luxe jungle, but it’s executed rather well, although probably not everyone’s cup of tea.
There’s a small upstairs area and outside terrace, but sit downstairs for the full effect. The space is large, but tables are housed in little nooks and intimate booths, so everything feels pleasantly private — a must in this new age of socially-distanced dining. Verdant faux foliage hangs from the ceiling, tasselled lamps decorated with various exotic birds perch on tables and the forest green walls are accompanied by gold accents to give it a modern edge.
Zuaya’s signature cocktails make a refreshing liquid starter — ‘London to Lima’ combines pisco, falernum, lime, agave syrup and egg white — followed by the tapas which gradually comes out one or two dishes at a time. Recipes range from the wacky (raspberry gazpacho sprinkled with feta and pistachio) to crowd pleasers (wagyu beef short rib bao) but it all works.
Slightly larger plates like Ibérico pork with butternut squash purée and garlic prawns in a sweet, buttery sauce go down well too. A surprising favourite is the wild rice. What I expect to be a filling yet unmemorable side dish is fantastically flavourful, mixed with sticky and sweet duck confit, tenderstem broccoli and shitake mushrooms. We’re too full for dessert, which is always a good sign.
The attentive but not overbearing service makes the whole experience smooth and easy, despite the extra Coronavirus precautions. Zuaya gets a thumbs up from me.
35B Kensington High Street, W8 5EB; zuaya.co.uk
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