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April 1, 2012 – Dinner
Written by: Second Stomach
Snowman and I came to Koi a few months ago and enjoyed discovering this little gem on Kingsway. Koi is centrally located at approximately Fraser and Kingsway and parking is not too hard to find especially on the weekends. We haven’t had Japanese food in a little while (ok, maybe 3 weeks) so it was time to satisfy that craving.
Walking into Koi, you discover that it’s a really really small place. It only has about 6 tables and a few chairs at the bar. It’s tastefully decorated and very casual at the same time.
Here’s a look at the menu:
We sat down and were served tea:
I think it’s worth mentioning the tea that was served. It was not the traditional green tea that you would expect from a Japanese restaurant. Instead, we were served a jasmine green tea with lavendar. It was very fragrant and the lavendar was not overpowering at all. It was a really nice to have something different for a change.
Tonight’s dinner consisted of:
Cheese-Tofu – $6.50
- This is a tofu-cream cheese cake served with ritz crackers.
- The tofu-cream cheese cake looks just like a slice of cheese cake. The bottom layer was a thin cookie crust and the white layer had a consistency that I could describe most similar to the mango pudding dessert that you can often get from dim sum. The slice of “cake” was then topped off with honey.
- We honestly could not taste any tofu in this dish at all. It was sweet and went well with the salty ritz crackers.
Swiss Roll – $7.95
- This roll has avocado, deep fried sweet potato, and deep fried eel.
- This roll came with 8 pieces.
Here’s a closer look at one of the rolls:
- You can see the deep fried sweet potato and avocado inside. Each roll was topped off with deep fried eel, green onion, masago, sesame seeds, and a little bit of mayo.
- The sweet potato inside was served hot. You could really taste the sweet potato in this roll – it was definitely the predominant flavor. I enjoyed the crunchiness from the tempura batter and the eel which contrasted well with the warm and soft sweet potato. Overall, this roll was on the sweeter side and I think should likely appeal to most people.
Volcano Roll – $7.95
- This roll came with spicy salmon inside topped with chopped scallop and sesame sauce and masago.
- The salmon was really very spicy in comparison to what I’ve had in other Japanese restaurants. The chopped scallop was subtle and complemented well with the salmon. You can see the black “line” topping the rolls – this is the black sesame. I thought this was unique because the black sesame was sweet and helped to temper the heat from the spicy salmon.
- Snowman still preferred the Swiss roll over this one since he wasn’t as fond of the spicy flavors. I think if you like spicy sushi and want to try something different, the Volcano roll is worth trying.
Kaku-Ni Don – $8.60
- This is stewed pork belly with a soft boiled egg with garlic chips, nori, green onions, mayo, and a sweet sauce (probably soya based) served over japanese rice. If you are going to order this, the kitchen may need about 20 minutes to prepare it.
- You can actually get the stewed pork belly and soft boiled egg on its own for $6.20 but we decided to go with having it over rice so that we could enjoy mixing the sauce and egg with the rice.
- The stewed pork belly was delicious – you can see that half of it is fat but you should eat this with the rice. The fat gives the rice a rich flavor and the soft texture mixes so well with the rice. The meat could have been a touch more tender.
Here’s a closer look at the soft boiled egg:
- You can see that it was a perfect soft boiled egg. I love mixing the yolk in with the rice Overall, it was very tasty having the egg mixed in with the sweet and savoury sauce. The only complaint I had was that this dish could have been served warmer. I generally prefer having a very hot bowl of rice – I found this lukewarm at times.
On our last visit to Koi, I remember that we tried the Miso Duck Carpaccio and the Koi Extreme Roll. I don’t have a picture of the Miso Duck Carpaccio but I remember that it was disappointing. The Koi Extreme Roll was very delicious – it contained avocado, prawn tempura, grilled eel and deep fried onions. Here’s a look at the roll:
Here’s our final bill for the 2 of us:
It’s nice to find a Japanese Tapas place in East Vancouver that is relatively reasonable in price and serves some really unique items. All of the rolls I’ve tried here have been very good – unique in presentation and taste. The Kaku-Ni Don is also something a little different for a change, although I think I’m a bit of sucker for anything pork belly.
- Reasonable pricing for Japanese Tapas
- Very small place – might be wise to call ahead
- Some “misses”