|Crispy soft-shell crab and ham hock, pickled carrot, lychee, cucumber and peanut dressing (artist's impression)|
I've been meaning to visit Kopapa since it opened a year or so back to positive reviews from food blogs. It went on the backburner until November when I started working at Gilda's Tryst across the road but it's taken me another 6 or so months to finally check it out.
The place has become quite well known for its brunch offerings but yesterday I was there for dinner. I shut up the shop at seven and headed across the road to meet my friends. Despite the early hour there was already a nice buzz in the simply decorated room, lined on one side by a well stocked bar, and the few tables outside were filled as the evening was quite balmy.
The menu is broken up into bar snacks, sharing platters, small and large plates. We decided to get a selection of tapas-style small plates to share. We started with the lamb ribs which were wonderful; floppy strips of unctously fatty meat in a deliciously savoury pomegranate sauce with sour cream that I enthusiastically mopped up with the bread we had ordered. A note here about the olives we got to go with the bread; plump with a sprinkling of aniseed-y caraway seeds - I can imagine happily munching my way through a bowl of these at the bar.
By this time my already high expectations were ramped up further and I had the burden on my shoulders of having recommended the venue so the rest of the dishes had to deliver.
Out came a procession of lovely looking dishes. Miso English asparagus with fennel salad was a disappointment for me as asparagus is one of my favourite things this time of year and I found these (few!) spears to be uninspiring and watery, the miso sauce was in itself very pleasant with a lovely foamy texture but entirely overpowered the delicate greens while the heap of sliced fennel felt like an afterthought. Warm individual potato, pepper, caramelised onion, spinach and feta tortilla with black olive dressing was enjoyable and hearty but quite unmemorable for me. The Spring rolls of slow roasted duck, Sichuan pepper, feta and guindilla chillies, tamarind aioli were stuffed with soft duck and the wrapping had a nice crunch, the sauce had a nice zingy acidity but again I found it a bit harsh for the roll's filling The absolute stand out dish for me was the Crispy soft-shell crab and ham hock, pickled carrot, lychee, cucumber and peanut dressing, the two sections of crab legs had beautiful sweet flesh but it was the salad beneath that was the real star for me. There was a flavour to it that I couldn't quite put my finger on when eating which must have been the pickled carrot and lychee. With crispy bacon, peanuts and more sweet nuggets of crab bathed in a zesty, slightly sour sauce I couldn't get enough of it. It is perfect for summer and a generous portion so on a hot day I can imagine this sufficing as a light lunch. Both of dining partners weren't too enamoured with it so I quite happily polished off the whole plate.
Overall Kopapa makes a great place for a relaxed dinner with friends. Not all of the dishes we tried were spectacular but there were enough good ones to make me want to go back. The bill for three of us for five small plates, bread, olives and a carafe of wine came to about seventy pounds and we felt quite full from this as the majority of the plates are a decent size. Not bargain of the month but that is something one often finds with tapas-style meals and it's worth it to be able to try a great variety of foods without having to steal it off people's plates!