There’s quite a big reason why I thought of writing about the Koi Restaurant and Lounge again. It’s because of the Saturday’s Gochiso Evening Brunch that I recently went for. Now there are only two reasons why one would re-visit a restaurant – 1) Because the place is just so beautiful (say, for a date), and 2) One wants to check the consistency of the restaurant (on being able to provide the same quality of service and food). I must say that in addition to the above two reasons, I found my re-visit to Koi as more of re-entering a comfortable, yet familiar, place where I could expect excellent Japanese Food! One way of experiencing this was through Koi’s new Saturday’s Gochiso Evening Brunch.
The Saturday’s Brunch features a splendid array of Japanese dishes along with a few Asian-inspired delicacies (like a Burmese Khao Suey, an Indonesian Nasi Goreng and a Thai Green Chicken Curry!). Apart from the regular servings of Japanese dishes (like Sushi Rolls, Sashimi, Miso Soup, etc.) the introduction of the few Asian dishes gave me a bit of “variety” to try out other touches as well. Of course, I’m never a fan of a restaurant that serves a million different cuisines on one menu, but then again this brunch made sense because sometimes having many dishes from one cuisine itself (in this case, mostly Raw Japanese Food) can be a bit boring. With this in mind, I will say kudos to Koi for trying out this new type of menu!
Note that I won’t be putting a picture of the menu to check out, but the below post contains more or less all the dishes on the menu. Additionally, I want you to go there and experience it yourself! Imagine walking in to a restaurant without the knowledge of what to expect on the menu! (It is quite rare these days, isn’t it?)
Finding a comfortable seat with ambient lighting was easy and difficult. The seating at Koi is just too comfortable for everyone. However, the restaurant is a bit dimly lit (I guess, to set the mood). Anyway, we found ourselves using the table lamp to provide sufficient lighting. Greeted by warm and friendly staff, our host explained what to expect on the evening’s brunch menu and started us off with a drink. There’s not much I can say about drinks, since it had to be the non-alcohol Mocktail (yes, I was driving). However, I must add that this simple Pomegranate Mint Cooler is actually quite refreshing! I did take 2 rounds of these!
The Miso soup at Koi is absolutely fresh. With bits of seaweed and tofu to surprise you, I felt this went really well with edamame beans (which is also on the starter menu). It is in fact slightly hot, but the good thing is you do have the option of ordering the regular Miso soup! A few minutes of conversation and slurping later, we were given a few more dishes to add to the whole “starter experience”
Seemingly good enough for main course itself, these starters were heavenly! With just the right dash of dressing for each, every plate was fresh and vibrant. What we particular liked out of these was the Calamari (yes, I have mentioned before that I’m a big fan of this). The calamari was amazingly crispy and was perfectly seasoned. It may seem a bit “Non-Foodie-Like” but I couldn’t resist picking up only bits of Calamari from the salad. I reckon it would be a good idea to just have these for starters, with some sort of Japanese influence of course! This would definitely be a hit! 😀
Something I would definitely recommend is the Beef and the Salmon (pictured above). Firstly, the beef used here is Wagyu (the almost Rolls-Royce of Beef). Now tataki is a Japanese art of lightly searing the meat and thinly sliced and served (similar to Sashimi). In other words a imagine a rarer version of a beef steak that’s slice up and served with a vinaigry mushroom & ponzu sauce. Slices of heaven! The other dish, which is the salmon on Gyoza Chips is essentially tartar pieces of salmon, chopped up and served on a deep fried gyoza. This was an absolutely perfect combination! You have the soft, almost-melting, texture of the salmon along with the crispiness of the gyoza!
Alright, Enough with the starters, let’s start with the highlight of Japanese food!…
Sashimi & Maki Rolls
Can you imagine, all that was still in the “Starter Phase”. The Salmon Carpaccio was off menu, and was given to us as a “Chef’s Special” dish. How was the dish? Well, think about the best combination of food ever! Thinly sliced, almost-melting, shards of fresh Salmon, along with hints of truffle oil! That’s all there needs to be! It was actually beyond heavenly! To be honest, I wish I could have some right now. The items on the menu was of course the bed of sashimi served on a plate of ice, which was not only fresh but also immaculately sliced and served. Every piece was just the right amount of thickness and melted in the mouth with that tantalizing sweetness that raw fish gives! Oh, did I forget to mention? It was absolutely tender!
The crispy sushi rice dish was again off-menu, and had a very interesting cooked approach to what should’ve been raw! The Maki rolls now were absolutely gorgeous! Perfectly rolled and sliced, each of the assorted ones was quite distinct from the other. Moist, and not too dry, my favorite was the Salmon & Unagi roll – picture center right above). There was one more highlight that served to us off menu, and this was a Rainbow Roll. Essentially made up of Unagi, Prawn Tempura and Baked Crab, this was rolled with Soybean wrapper (which explains the white). Moreover, this was put on a bed of Sircaha Sauce and topped with tempura crumbs.
As filling as it looks, this definitely was a show stopper! Interesting flavors from the Unagi and Crab, and then to pair it with a spicy kick from the siracha was absolutely delightful! All these soft textures in your mouth and then you get a nice crunch from the tempura flakes! Oh my! This roll was an absolute winner in my books!
Wait a second, starters are not done yet. There’s still two more to go…
Quite stuffed already, we worked our way through this course (after a lot of walking around I guess). Additionally, we had to keep some room for main course…and then desserts! The shrimps, pretty much the same as the calamari, had just the right amount of dynamite sauce topping. Yes, quite similar to the one at PF Chang’s, Koi’s version of dynamite shrimps isn’t heavy! (And definitely doesn’t leave you regretting about the bucket load of calories). Also, these perfectly crispy versions are just the right way to keep things…light…I guess. moving on to the spicy grilled chicken wings, all I can say is that they were perfectly cooked! With just the right amount of heat, the umami mayo does all the (good in the world) to keep it low on the heat.
Finally, the main course had arrived! 5 of 6 different plates were the only ones we could stomach down.
Digging in one at a time, we started off with the cod and the shrimps. The Cod was absolutely perfect! It was indeed delicate in flavor, and the right amount of hint of miso! The fish was perfectly cooked and moist! I would definitely go back for more of the hoisin sauce though – it was amazing! The shrimp on the other hand, were splendid! Of course it was a bit confusing when the menu read “satuéed shrimps” and the dish itself seemed more like deep-fried shrimps on a base of Hot & Sour Sauce. However, it was perfectly cooked and delectable indeed!
With difficulty (and stuffed stomachs) we tried to digest the curry and rice as well as the Nasi Goreng. Honestly, it was difficult (yes, I know that carbs are quite filling!). However, we did manage to taste a bit of both and both were absolutely splendid. The tenderness of the chicken in the curry was beautiful (compared to most of those times you usually get dry meat). Comparatively, the presentation and taste of the nasi goreng was amazing! It wasn’t too spicy as it usually should be, but definitely left us happy!
The Pho Bo was a clear soup that resembled a type of stock. Usually what clear soups are all about, this one was very simple! It was made up of slices of beef, noodles, onions and coriander to top it off. Again, it does seem quite simple in flavor, but it was definitely a “must-have” to digest all those starters!
Unfortunately, we had no room for the Burmese Khao Suey (which is on the menu). But I definitely plan on visiting again and trying it out. Fancy I would probably just put up a post about the dish itself As you know, Khao Suey is wonderful. In my terms, imagine a simple coconut curry that’s not too spicy but quite creamy and sweet. Now imagine if this is poured over a bed of noodles and topped with all sorts of condiments. Condiments like Fried Garlic & Onions, Chilli Flakes, chopped Coriander and Spring Onions and Lemon Juice! Heaven right?
With a huff and a puff, we piggies managed to plate down the dessert platter. Was it filling? Well surprisingly no! (not in a bad way). It was just the right way to end a meal that didn’t leave us feeling too stuffed!
From the top right going anti-clockwise (pictured above), we dug in to the most amazing platter! Starting off with the Pear Ice Cream, we could only taste how fresh this was and figured that it should have been prepare in-house. The ice cream itself was not too icy, which was good. Now I’m sure that if they paired the ice cream with honey or so, it would definitely be an amazing addition! Next up was the Chocolate Mousse covered in a Strawberry sauce (of sorts). Yes it was perfectly moist and not dry at all.
Anyways, let’s move on to the highlights. The Sticky Toffee Pudding was served warm on a bed of Toffee Sauce. It was just the right amount of sweetness! Moreover, the warmth in the pudding made it absolutely moist. Even though we were full, we gulped it down in about 5 seconds! Next up was the Coconut & Mango Tapioca. Now let me tell you why exactly this was an absolute highlight…
Firstly, she was so photogenic. I mean look at how beautiful that looks! Doesn’t it absolutely look delicious! As we dug into the pot to spoon out the coconut tapioca, we were greeted by this wonderful fresh and vibrant tangle of Mango compote! It is quite similar to a Thai sticky rice and mango dessert. The only different in this was that it was much easier to eat and heck more flavorful!
Well of course, you know me, I had to end this beautiful evening brunch with a cup of freshly brewed tea! (and no, I can’t talk about flavors cause I honestly was too full to go looking for it). However, this was served in a beautiful cast iron pot and the experience of it all, I must say, was gorgeous!
Now you may be thinking of how an “Evening” Brunch would work on a Saturday! Well, it was a bit unusual thinking of eating at 5pm, however, think of it as an early supper and a good enough time after that to help you digest it down before you hit the bed! Well, in our case it took about 4.5 hours to finish the brunch – but that’s only cause I was more interested in tasting the different flavors, and the hour long conversations, hehe! Priced at AED 295++ with soft drinks per person, this Saturday’s Gochiso Evening Brunch at Koi is definitely a must try!
You can find out more about Koi by visiting their website at –> http://www.koirestaurant.ae/