THE NIGHT STUFF
Koi rolls out sushi, sake in urbanely chic lounge
By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Entertainment Writer
By Derek Paiva
A chill soundtrack of Common, Zapp and Al Green instead of koto and shakuhachi offered a sweet-enough welcome.
But a mondo menu of sushi rolls and nigirizushi, sashimi creations and Asian fusion appetizers — delicious and coolly inventive — was the best part of a recent Friday evening visit to Koi Sushi Bar & Sake Lounge.
When Koi opened a couple of months back in the gutted, refurnished, relit and monkey-free former home of Blue Tropix, I was surprised its concept hadn't been claimed here sooner.
Miss the old Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar's weekend Sushi Lounge with its late-night food and drink menu and turntablists at Restaurant Row? Koi offers its own spin nightly (except Tuesdays) — with DJs or an eclectic piped-in soundtrack, pau hana through late night — for the same stylish, urban professional sushi-and-sake-seeking twentysomething crowd. And with a better menu.
Arriving 'round 9 p.m., my partner in Night Stuff and I scored the last of the lounge's dozen or so living-room-style seat-and-table pods. There were a few seats at Koi's large L-shaped bar fronting monster fish tanks. A half-dozen seats at Koi's novel sushi bar — you have to cross a wooden bridge over an indoor koi pond to reach it — were all spoken for.
Discreet spots gave off just enough light to preserve Koi's urbane lounge vibe. TLC boasted its inability to get with a deadbeat (expletive). And after 10 minutes, we finally pared our order from two dozen potentials to just four items — most moderately priced and nicely portioned, all well-presented and delectable enough to guarantee a return visit. (See below.)
Still more intriguing menu offerings from executive chefs Grant Kawasaki and Norlan Horita will debut in the weeks ahead.
If Koi starts offering sake flights, I may move in.
Reach Derek Paiva at firstname.lastname@example.org.