After days of living on cheese, bread and croissants in France, my friend Sophie and I were desperate to get some veggies into us once we reached Prague.
Wandering through this pretty little city, we noticed Asian restaurants dotted along the streets and sidewalks and both immediately started craving Thai food.
The first couple of restaurants we looked at had minimal menus with very little or no vegetarian options. I started getting worried. But then we stumbled upon a place called Coa. Oh, Coa…
Looking through the bright, picture-filled menu (more of a modern recipe book style than cheap wipe-away diner style), I spotted the word ‘veg’ in brackets more times than I could count. Sold!
Coa (Cuisine of Asia) serves self-proclaimed ‘Asian feelgoodfood’ and has dishes from all around east Asia. The restaurant is spacious and modern in design and has a range of seating options from stools at the bar for a quick bite, to cosy tables nestled against the wall for couples, to large bench-style tables for big groups. We chose a small corner table, with comfy padded benches.
Most of the staff spoke limited English but were very friendly and helpful and were most patient with us when we took forever to make our decision… After being deprived of vegetables for days, the menu was a little over-exciting and overwhelming.
We ordered drinks first but that wasn’t the easiest decision either! After having a big night out at the Moulin Rouge in Paris the night before, neither of us were keen on alcohol (a rare occurrence). But instead of boring lemonade or juice, we were drawn to the exotic-sounding fruit cocktails. I chose the Night in Bangkok – apple juice, blood orange syrup, vanilla syrup, cucumber and ginger. It was divine. Sophie went for Mr Wong’s Garden – pineapple juice, coriander, ginger, lime juice, sugar syrup and ginger syrup. It was also tasty but the coriander was a bit strong.
As soon as I spotted the summer rolls on the menu, I knew that’s what I wanted for my starter. They sounded too fresh and delicious to pass up and in true Asian style, you made them yourself. Fun!
Wow. Just wow.
The summer rolls looked so impressive when they came out that a couple near us got food envy and asked what I’d ordered. They were served on a large plate with the fillings (lettuce, shaved carrot, vermicelli, bean shoots, spring onions, coriander and mint) neatly laid out and the rice paper pressed between big mesh plates that you had to peel apart. There was a little pot of and hoisin sauce with cashews for dipping/drizzling and I was given a smaller side plate to construct and eat the rolls.
Not the most ladylike dish, it was impossible to peel off the rice paper without it curling and sticking together, though I did get better after my first attempt. The plate was so full of fillings that I got a little excited and ended up with a massive roll that I had to eat with a knife and fork. It fell apart as I cut it but it was so delicious I didn’t care. After the first bite, I instantly felt healthier and pretty sure I heard my insides cheer. After three rolls (each slightly neater than the last), I was in heaven.
Sophie went for the mixed dim sums, which were served in a cute little bamboo box and were apparently delicious (meat-filled, so I didn’t sample).
It is pretty hard to disappoint me with Thai curry but even so, this was pretty damn amazing. I got the Hothead Red Tomato Curry and added tofu because tofu is awesome. There was no skimping on the vegetables as there often is in restaurants and I gobbled down broccoli, red pepper, carrot, snow peas, bamboo shoots and cherry tomatoes. The curry was marked as ‘two chillies’ out of three but I didn’t find this dish hot at all. You could taste the spices but there was none of that satifying burn. Other than that, I was rather pleased with my choice!
Sophie got the Keen Green & Papaya Curry and added chicken. Though green usually means spicy, this was a mild curry that was perfect for spice-phobic Soph.
Both dishes were served with a big pile of curried rice and we left with incredibly full bellies.
We were so happy with our meal that we went back for Round Two, two nights later!
This time we both got a Night in Bangkok juice. They’d run out of cucumber but it was still delicious. For starters, Sophie had the dim sums again (she has a slight addiction) and I wanted to try the vegetarian cream cheese dim sums but they’d run out. Refusing to be let down by our little haven, I quickly scoured the menu for another vegetarian starter and settled on a salad. Not something I’d usually go for as a starter but so glad I did.
I chose the Coa Side Salad which was a light mix of lettuce, red peppers, fresh pineapple, bean sprouts, spring onions and cherry tomatoes. It was topped with black sesame seeds and I opted for the mango chilli dressing. It was delicious, refreshing and not so filling that I couldn’t enjoy my main.
Wanting to turn up the heat this time (and not being able to pass up a good curry when I see one), I chose the Pan Massaman and Sweet Potato curry. It came with the same fresh veggies and again I added tofu. It was sweet and spicy and I enjoyed it immensely. However, I concluded that the Czechs just can’t handle their spice because although spicier than my first curry, it was not worth the three chilli rating it boasted. Again, this was my only complaint about the dish.
Sophie went for a rice noodle dish with mango, papaya, spring onions and black sesame seeds. It was light and summery with a nice sweetness from the fruit.
A two-course meal with (non-alcoholic) drinks for two set us back just over 400CZK each time, or around €16-17 each.
As there is such a variety of dishes from all over eastern Asia, this place should keep even the fussiest of eaters happy. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options (pretty sure all my dishes were vegan), which is always a massive drawcard for me!
Coa in Prague only opened it’s doors in March; prior to that, they only had locations around Germany. Hopefully they will keep expanding until they reach London! And when I finally make it to Berlin, I know where I’ll be headed for dinner…