CôBa: Vietnamese BBQ Comes To King's Cross
In that slightly sparse stretch between Caledonian Road and King's Cross station, this Vietnamese BBQ's a beacon of warmth and good, smoky smells.
CôBa looks more like an elegant Japanese cafe than a BBQ joint, all parquet flooring and hairpin-leg stools. The menu doesn't do much to change that impression, with an also-elegant cocktail list, and a dinner offering divided into small plates and big bowls.
The small plates we treat as starters — an order of prawn toast and another of summer rolls stuffed with prawn and pork — are both far more memorable than they sound on the menu. The prawn toast's maybe the best we've ever found in London, crunchy on the outside, springy on the inside and with a seriously concentrated hit of prawn.
The big bowls are mostly noodle-based, with three different pho on offer, and noodle salads with a choice of several toppings. We go for one salad with BBQ beef wrapped in betel leaf, and another topped with chicken, and while neither pack as much of a punch as the small plates, they're still solid choices — fragrant with grilled meat smells and fresh, lemongrassy undertones.
BBQ flavours aren't confined to the food menu, with our guest's Man On Fire cocktail arriving in a stoppered carafe of whisky, vermouth, bitters and BBQ smoke. It's poured out at the table in a flourish of smoke-plumes, as tangy and dangerously moreish as it is theatrical - and comes with a little bowl of crispy bacon on the side. Our Mamarita cocktail's less flamboyant but even better: a mix of jalapeño paprika tequila, agave, blood orange and lime, a twist on a margarita that tastes of Christmas in a hot country.
If we lived or worked nearby we'd be thrilled at CôBa's arrival — for an after-work haunt or date spot. And the barbequed meats and noodle salads, though they're good, might be the least of CôBa's attractions. We'd make a repeat visit just for the small plates and cocktails.
CoBa, 244 York Way, N7 9AG.
Last Updated 22 November 2017