If you have not been to Koya in the last few years, you owe it another visit. Several years ago the restaurant changed hands. The new owners did a massive renovation, increasing the space and improving the ambiance. The new Koya is a very pleasant family meat restaurant. The atmosphere is informal, friendly and stylish. The food and the service are both above average, and the portions are extremely generous.
Koya will remind you of a time when Caesarea was a village. The charming red-roofed building sits in the center of a park-like property, with a lawn and trees. There is an adequate parking lot just behind the restaurant. The setting is so rural you may not notice that the restaurant is actually in the center of a tech park. A short distance from the restaurant are tall no-nonsense industrial looking buildings, making the restaurant a respite from the neighborhood.
The village atmosphere continues in the restaurant decor, dominated by wood and stone. The restaurant is designed as a series of large alcoves, giving the spacious dining area an intimate feel. Seating is comfortable with a mix of chairs and banquettes. A glistening well-stocked bar is at the center of the restaurant. There is a private room for parties up to 30 guests.
My companion and I visited this restaurant for an early dinner mid week.
A one-card menu was presented to us and explained very nicely by the polite and helpful waitress. When my companion sees chicken wings on the menu, there are no other starters. The Koya chicken wing starter is a big bowl of 12 half-wings, certainly enough for two or more people to share. In fact, he couldn’t finish the portion on his own. The wings came swimming in a bowl of tangy barbecue sauce, and were sprinkled with crunchy sesame seeds. Anticipating sticky fingers, the chicken wings are served with towlette envelopes. They know.
The most popular dishes at Koya are the burgers. The menu has a separate section just for burgers. But to be fair, there are many other dishes to choose from, including steaks, salads and sandwiches. There are also several vegan choices, clearly marked on the menu.
Koya respects vegan food, and the items marked as such are cooked separately, so that they do not come in contact with the meat.
Our main courses were each generous servings on large platters. I wanted to try the vegan burger and my companion, ever the American, went straight for the Sloppy Joe sandwich. The veggie burger came on an open-face hamburger roll with cut up vegetables on the second side of the roll. A generous portion of hand cut chips filled the rest of the platter. The platter was so large it was shared around and there was plenty left over. This veggie burger could have fooled me. The plate looked just like a meat burger platter. If you hadn't told me that the burger was veggie I wouldn’t have known.
Each table has a wooden basket of Heinz condiments. You know the ones: Heinz ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and Huy Fong Sriracha hot sauce. I noted that only new bottles of brand name condiments were presented, a sign of Koya’s attention to quality.
The Sloppy Joe, popular with the Americans we were told, had a heaping mountain of fried onions. This too was served as an open sandwich on a large, thick rye roll. The generous portion of ground beef with sauce was on one half of the roll, topped with a sunny-side-up egg, which was a nice touch, and tasty. The other half of the roll was piled high with fresh red onion rings, tomatoes, pickles and lettuce (can’t you just hear the TV jingle?), and topped with a generous serving of crispy fried onions. I’m getting hungry again just writing about it.
Koya has several beers on tap, including Stella Artois, an excellent Belgian beer, but my companion had a bottle of Weihenstephan, a fine old Bavarian beer with his meal. The beer was a golden yellow, slightly cloudy color.
My big-mouthed companion couldn’t get his mouth around the thick sandwich, so he had to take it apart. He piled the veggies from the “extra” half roll on top, and then was forced to eat the huge open faced sandwich that resulted with a knife and fork. This may not be traditional, but it was much neater than letting the sandwich run all over your shirt and pants.
At first glance, the sloppy joe sandwich seemed to be missing a side of French fries, but the sandwich is so large that fries would be a waste. The fries that I shared with him from my veggie burger went almost untouched. As it was, he left over the half roll from the vegetable side of his sandwich.
Koya offers several desserts, but the signature dish is the halva kadaif (shown in photo). This is certainly a sweet way to end the meal. The dessert is a pleasing Mediterranean dessert that combines stringy halva, kadaif, and coconut sorbet on top, with crushed pistachios sprinkled all over. Quite delicious.
From the menu: Chicken wings NIS 32. Vegan burger NIS 53. Sloppy Joe NIS 57, Weinstephan beer 30. Beer by the pitcher is available for NIS 45 along with other beer specials .