Koka in Gothenburg: deliciously simple yet sophisticated

Koka was a restaurant that I had already identified in my watch as one of the best in Gothenburg, and which had also been recommended to me. I had planned to go there last spring, stopping off at Gothenburg before heading to Australia to take advantage of an unbeatable “market fare” on Singapore Airlines. The trip was cancelled due to border closures, and so was the stopover in Sweden.

Koka: the concept

Koka presents itself as a “modern Swedish cuisine” restaurant, which means just about everything and nothing.

In concrete terms, the dishes are simple in that they avoid multiplying ingredients, concentrating instead on a single product and bringing out its full potential.

It remains to be seen what this means in practice.

The setting

This is Sweden, so there’s no showboating. Wood and sleek design are the rule.

Koka Gothenburg
Koka Gothenburg
Koka Gothenburg

It’s clean, bright, spacious and warm.

Koka’s menu

I had made my reservation online, as I had done in all the restaurants during my stay in Gothenburg, a possibility offered in absolutely all the properties and which reminds me just how far behind France can be on this subject.

There’s no à la carte menu as such at Koka: there are 3 menus in 3, 5 and 7 courses, and you have to specify which one you’re choosing when you make your reservation. While I’m at it, I’ll take the 7-course menu.

Menu Restaurant Koka – Gothenburg

I’d also go for wine pairing.

Menu Restaurant Koka – Gothenburg

Some may find this rather restrictive, but from my point of view it allows to keep the menu short, guaranteeing fresh produce and “made-to-order” preparation.

It’s time to start with the serious stuff.

The meal and the dishes

I take possession of my table, where I find an envelope with a welcome note.

Restaurant Koka – Gothenburg

As usual, I’ll enjoy a Negroni as an aperitif. Very decent, even if it’s not up to the standards of a certain Parisian bar I like.

Restaurant Koka – Gothenburg

It will be accompanied by an amuse bouche, which I forgot what it’s made of. It’s fine, smoky, I think I understood there was artichoke?

Amuse bouche Restaurant Koka – Gothenburg

I’m told that the bread and butter are homemade.

Restaurant Koka – Gothenburg

Restaurant Koka – Gothenburg

We start with crab with lentils and marigold flower.

crab, lentils and marigold flower. Koka Gothenburg

At first, the bittersweetness of the marigold blossom comes through, but the crab soon follows. A light, airy dish that I enjoyed.

The dish was accompanied by a surprising Austrian wine from the country’s most famous grape variety: Grüner Veltliner. A little salty and light, it goes perfectly with the dish.

Then oysters with herbs and tomato.

Oyster, herbs and tomato. Koka Gothenburg

It’s really surprising. At first, the smell is mainly grassy, but then it turns to oysters, which go very well with the broth, in which I can also detect the presence of seafood. But in the end there’s a lot of herbs and broth and not much oyster in proportion.

The wine served with it is a slightly smoky Spanish wine and the match is perfect. Just as I like to accompany my oysters generally with an iodized/smoky/tourbé whisky, this wine married perfectly with the dish.

Then it’s beet with yoghurt and quinoa.

Beet, yoghurt and quinoa. Koka Gothenburg.

Visually speaking, the dish looks totally lost in the middle of the plate. At least it’s sober, but maybe a little too so. The taste is excellent.


At first, it reminded me a little of an Indian dish, but without the spices. You can taste the beet and yoghurt, and the quinoa makes a very light crust.

Served with a fruity Beaujolais.

The next course is hake with mushroom emulsion, chives and Moromi (sake).

Hake, mushroom emulsion, chives and Moromi – Koka Gothenburg

The balance between the consistency of the fish and the lightness of the mushroom emulsion was perfect. On the other hand, I had difficulty in understanding the Moromi.

Served with a Bergerac.

Finally some meat! The next course is juniper duck with broccoli.

Duck, juniper and broccoli. Koka Gothenburg

To see the duck, you have to push the broccoli aside!

Duck with juniper and broccoli. Koka Gothenburg.

It is accompanied by a blackcurrant purée.

Everything combined very well, I only regret that the garnish totally hid the dish. But that’s for the visual, and I admit that it’s part of the concept, the taste is perfect.

The wine, a herbal Loire wine with a hint of cherry at the end, goes perfectly with the dish.

We’re going sweet with pumpkin and raspberry!

Pumpkin ice cream and raspberry broth. Koka Gothenburg

In fact, it’s a pumpkin ice cream in a raspberry broth. It’s surprising, to say the least, but once again, it’s a perfect match.

Served with a sweet Sicilian wine, totally appropriate.

And to finish, apples with sarasin and a fruit spirit.


I’ll finish with a green tea and cognac, with which I’ll be brought a small chocolate cake.


The service

The service was really good. No waiting between courses but not too fast either, just the right amount of waiting time. A complicated exercise with such long menus.

The staff are very professional and friendly. I’d like to add a special mention for the waitress, who was so passionate about wine and food pairing that she took the time to present the wines and explain the logic behind matching them to the dish, putting all her energy into it. Which reminded me of the waitress at Ribe in Tallinn, another great experience from just over a year ago.

The atmosphere at Koka

Very pleasant atmosphere in the dining room. The tables are widely spaced, so you can eat at your ease without feeling oppressed and being forced to enjoy the conversations of your neighbors.

It’s casual in the sense that it’s not stuffy at all, but it’s not loud at all. Perfect balance.

Bottom line

Koka is a restaurant I’m sure I’ll be happy to return to next time I’m in Gothenburg.

The dishes live up to their promise, both simple in composition and sophisticated in conception. The taste is there and the visual is a success.

The wines proposed are rather surprising, not the kind of wine pairing you’d normally expect to find on a gourmet tasting menu. The pairings were successful and I wouldn’t have thought of many of them.

Having said that, and this is my only complaint, but one that I make more to myself than to the restaurant, I’m less and less convinced by wine pairing formulas. Why ? I’m used to concentrating on the dishes and drinking little while eating and more between courses. The result is that I always find myself emptying glasses in a hurry between courses. And even here, the quantities were reasonable, elsewhere it’s sometimes enough to make you sick. But after all, it was my choice, so I only have myself to blame.

For the record: articles related to this trip.

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrinhttp://www.duperrin.com
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.

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