London’s restaurant scene is fiercely competitive – there are just so many to choose from, and new openings keep on adding to everyone’s already long list of must-try places – and so we are thrilled to be named one of Time Out’s top 100 restaurants.
When owner Damon Bui decided to make the move from supper club to permanent premises on York Way, he had succeeded in winning over the hearts – and stomachs – of many loyal diners, but he knew there was still a long way to go. After all, running a 54-cover restaurant is a very different story to cooking for 10-20 people in your own home twice a month.
It’s almost a year since CôBa started trading – we opened the doors to our King’s Cross premises on 20 October 2015 – and we think it’s our focus on quality ingredients, a great drinks menu and fantastic front-of-house and kitchen teams that has attracted attention.
Sure, as Time Out says, reaching the restaurant means a little walk from King’s Cross or Caledonia Road stations, but we like to think our signature prawn toast is worth the journey, as the publication writes: ‘Four huge pillows of deliciously soft bread given a flick in the fryer and topped with juicy prawns, fried seaweed, sesame seeds and a winning chilli mayo.’
Damon would be the first to acknowledge that we like to think we do things a little differently:
“We have our prawn toast, and we have the duck ramen, but a lot of care goes into our traditional dishes too. My goal was to make food that my family want to eat. We use a lot of bones for our stocks. We source really good meat from our butchers as well as good-quality crab meat and really decent prawns. I want to serve food that I would be happy for my mum to eat. And I hope that entices people and keeps them coming back.”
When it comes to word-of-mouth, we have been really fortunate. The goal was to open a neighbourhood restaurant and people have really supported that. And after a Time Out review late last year, the business went crazy.
“Then the top-100 place was announced, and that’s a huge deal for us,” says Damon. “Our regulars were really excited for us – it sounds cheesy, but it feels like a family.” That family feeling can be found throughout the restaurant, in fact, many members of our international staff have been here since day one.
“It’s a team effort, we have a great kitchen team and two fantastic bartenders who really know their stuff – they are always fine-tuning and making me taste their creations – and great wait staff. And of course a special mention goes to MJ, who is always the host with the most! They all want us to succeed and grow.
“What we want to achieve from CôBa is for people to have a good time and that means getting all three things right – service, food and drinks. But don’t take our word for it, read what Time Out had to say here…
When to go:
When Vietnamese barbecue is all you can think of, and you don’t mind pounding the city’s pavements to get to it.
What to have:
Don’t overlook the prawn toast, whose topping of fresh prawns, fried seaweed, sesame seeds and chilli mayo wipes the floor with the efforts of your local Chinese takeaway.
Chef Damon Bui, a Aussie supper club veteran of Vietnamese descent, has made his debut permanent restaurant a whopper of an offering: a sleek, contemporary dining room serving Vietnamese barbecue dishes alongside classic soups and salads. The short menu has plenty of bite: try the barbecued pork, lemongrass and noodle salad, whose mint, red chilli and nuoc cham sauce add extra punches of flavour, or the fragrant beef pho piled high with herbs and seasoning. The only catch is that CôBa is a 20-minute trek from any of the nearest tube stations. Still, if you have to walk it off, you can over-order freely.