Monday, 7 September 2009

Costa Azul

I first heard about this place from the highly reliable Su-Lin. An underrepresented cuisine always tickles my fancy as it provides a reprieve from the ‘everything with chips’ treadmill.

Costa Azul is an Ecuadorian restaurant and it’s also likely that Full English fry-ups are served all-day as well. Its location on Old Kent Road might put some of you off, so banish all anxieties, as it’s less harebrained than Oxford Street. This part of London is also close to the cultural capital of Ecuadorians in the UK that’s Elephant and Castle. To confound issues Costa Azul sits next to a Columbian parrilla (barbecue) joint. On a whole it was a pleasure to meet the people who work here as well as the mainly South American diners; these folks are genuinely warm and friendly.
I first came here after an epic walk from Broadway Market via Tower Bridge. To quench the thirst I tried a Colombian soft drink…eewh.

Started with Camarones Envulto. This is essentially a spicier version of tempura prawns. The chilli sauce tasted very much like a generic sweet Thai variety. Pretty good and stunning value, £3.50 is very little for six king prawns, considering the average Japanese joint charges up to £9.00 for 4!

My mains of Arroz Marinero. Seafood fried rice or approximate paella by any other name. This was huge, way too much for one person and wait for it, I counted there were 15 prawns and that’s not including a gazillion little shrimps plus other sea life. Although not as sophisticated as your usual Spanish paella, it was rather good eating. Again good value at £11.50.

This nice geezer is tucking into his Encebollado; tuna soup made with cassava. The novelty to me was the accompaniment of baked corn; both popped and unpopped.

I came back here a second time for dinner and the ambience transformed quite literally from a quiet café to a raucous rendezvous frequented by our South American brethren. Take heed of the the following observations- loud music, lively hollering, clashing of beer bottles, plasma screens showing Latin American soaps and the supposedly extinct disco lights. I know we’re not in Nicaragua, but I kept getting an impression that Nick Nolte was going to burst through the front doors with his cameras seeking some kind of refuge. In that respect Costa Azul was reminiscent of some border town bar.

My rattled dining companion felt ill at ease during the entire meal (he’s the sort that thinks civilised Gooners like myself are hooligans).

Our Ecuadorian soft drinks. Both tasted like carbonated cough mixtures.

We shared another predictably large platter of chargrilled seafood. The Parillada Mariscos is enough for three.

As Su-Lin stated in her review, those prawns were massive. There were three fillets of lemon sole and some well-cooked squid. These three selections of fish were delicious enough to justify the price tag of £27.00 the dish was charged. However the mussels were a waste of time as they tasted of nowt and the two large hunks of tuna were hopelessy overcooked. A bowl each of salad and fried plantains accompanied the fish. Lest I forget, don’t expect mayo or tartare sauce, you’re given a no-option and seriously hot chilli sauce to go with the fish. All in; good value and honest tasting tuck.

Brace yourself...


...and blinded by the lights!

If I do come back here, I’ll come back alone for lunch only (not my friends’ kinda place). I enjoy the simplistic approach to the dishes and the value is second to none. Costa Azul, I’ll be back.

190-192 Old Kent Road
London SE1 5TY


Su-Lin said...

Glad you liked the place! We read your post and decided that we need to go back soon!

Did you walk there?!

bellaphon said...

S-L- with a few leg cramps on the way, yes.

I heart cupcakes said...

I live not too far from here and pass it daily on the bus/walking but I have to say I am allergic to prawns (Even tying the word makes me feel a bit queasy) and avoid any shellfish due to the horrific experiences I had with aforemention p's so maybe this one isn't for me! The area is a bit scary if you're not used to it! Further down the Old Kent Road is the number one Nigerian restaurant in London - I recommended it to a few as they were looking for unusual restaurants and they seemed to enjoy it - I've not been though

bellaphon said...

IHC- I would be despondent if I had your allergy. My commiserations. Thanks for the tip on the Nigerian eatery, I shall give that a go.