There’s nothing I love better than Mochi, and guess what? Koi has it! The main reason I love Mochi so much is it’s the perfect way to end a meal. Mochi, in case you’re wondering what it is, is ice-cream wrapped inside a soft sweet dough exterior. It might sound a bit strange but it really is delicious. At Koi they have Vanilla, Chocolate-Strawberry, Passionfruit, Red Bean, Green Tea, Coffee, Honeydew, and Lychee ice-creams! My favorites are definitely Green Tea, Coffee, Lychee and Vanilla. Green tea ice cream, if you’ve never had it, is incredible. It’s sweet, but still has a very subtle bitterness to it that keeps the flavor interesting. The coffee mochi is perfect if you’re about to go out clubbing and need a little pick me up. The lychee tastes fresh and light and is perfect for summer. Finally the vanilla is just classic, but with the mochi dough it takes on this really interesting flavor and texture.
A word of caution on Mochi: be careful to start out with small bites. Although the dough helps prevent your teeth from getting too frozen, in some ways it also holds in the cold of the ice cream, so definitely take your time! You should take your time anyway though-it’ll be gone before you know it!
Before I got engaged, I used to always request Koi for a first date restaurant. It’s really the perfect spot for a first date. The atmosphere is romantic and dark, which I think really helps set a relaxed and comfortable tone for the evening. First dates can be sort of stuffy and sometimes even feel like job interviews. But in Koi’s relaxed atmosphere, it’s much easier to be yourself. Plus, if I have to suffer through a first date (most of which are bad, let’s be honest) I might as well get a delicious meal out of it right?
I think the thing I love most about Koi for a first date is that in many ways you can tell what kind of man a guy is by how he approaches a first date at Koi. Did he make a reservation? He’s a planner and likes to have his ducks in a row. Did he show up without a reservation but say he prefers to eat in the lounge anyway? When my now fiance took me to Koi on our first date, he showed up in sneakers and a t-shirt. Blissfully clueless. I was worried they wouldn’t let him in, but they did, and to this day I credit Koi for helping me meet my soon-to-be husband. They sat us in the sushi lounge and we laughed and had the best time. I’m glad Koi didn’t judge a book by it’s cover and I’m glad I didn’t either.
My fiance doesn’t like sushi. I know–what?!? It’s such a shame. Luckily for me, he still loves going to Koi! Why? Because Koi has plenty of amazing non-sushi dishes. Koi’s Signature Hot Dishes menu has lots of great items to choose from. Martyn’s favorite is the grilled Lobster Tail. He let me have a bite the other night and man oh man! I think the best thing about it is how subtle the flavoring is: just a little bit of au jus and herb butter to bring out the flavor of the lobster, nothing more. You know what that means right? Koi knows they have the best quality lobster available. They’re not about to cover it up with a bunch of strongly flavored sauces.
When he’s not in the mood for seafood, he also loves Kobe Style filet mignon. He always asks to substitute Mashed Potatoes for the asparagus and mushrooms. What can I say: I’m marrying a meat and potatoes man. And boy, does Koi know how to do meat and potatoes. They kobe filet is so tender and flavorful, and the mashed potatoes are incredible and creamy! It’s a shame I ended up with a non-sushi lover, but at least we know we can always both enjoy Koi!
Want to have the best Bachelorette party ever? Start the night off at Koi and order a round of lychee martinis! My girlfriends knew that Koi was my favorite restaurant, so they decided that for my bachelorette party last weekend we should obviously go to Koi. We started the night with a round of lychee martinis, my favorite cocktail at Koi. Why do I love the Lychee Martini so much? It has just the right amount of sweetness. Most lychee martini’s I’ve had are too syrupy. Koi’s lychee martini is sweet, yes, but it doesn’t lose that kick from the alcohol.
That said, the lychee martinis are strong and I’m glad we were taking cabs that night. We had our second round when our food came out. The lychee martini pairs perfectly with simple sushi dishes like Salmon and Tuna, but it goes equally well with the more complex dishes like the creamy rock shrimp or kobe beef carpaccio.
We had one more round with dessert–we ordered several orders of Mochi for the table. Yum! But in truth, the lychee martini was the best dessert ever! By the end of dinner, none of us really felt a need to go clubbing. We’d had the best time just hanging out drinking martinis at Koi!
Koi is well known for their specialty items, like Creamy Rock Shrimp, Koi Crispy Rice, and Salmon Carpaccio. They have plenty of other delicious specialty items on their menu as well: Lobster Tacos, Kobe Style Potstickers, and the list goes on. But let’s not overlook the deliciousness of Koi’s most simple sushi dishes. I always judge a sushi restaurant by the taste of their simple Salmon Sushi. Salmon is my favorite type of sushi. It’s mild, smooth, and really good for you. I get a few pieces of Salmon sushi at every sushi restaurant I go to, and let me tell you, Koi’s Salmon sushi is the best I’ve ever had.
It always tastes super fresh, without the slightest hint of fishiness. Plus, it’s always perfectly chilled. Really is there anything worse than hot sushi? You just know it’s been left sitting out somewhere, potentially growing bacteria. You’ll never worry about that at Koi. I’ve also tried their simple tuna sushi and had an equally pleasant experience. A friend of mine loves yellowtail sushi, and Koi is her favorite place to get it.
Sure the popular specialty dishes are incredible and worth trying. But it’s nice to know that if you’re ever in the mood for just some good, simple sushi, Koi won’t let you down.
After I’ve eaten a meal of my favorites at Koi like Beef Carpaccio, Creamy Rock Shrimp, Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna, and an assortment of sushi, I’m generally very full and satisfied. But no matter how full I am I ALWAYS make room for dessert. Some restaurants do appetizers and entrees well but then they just sort of skimp on desserts. Not Koi! I adore Creme Brulee and Koi’s Vanilla Creme Brulee is always made to perfection! It’s also a fairly light dessert so if I’ve already eaten a lot, I’ll generally get their creme brulee. But if I have a bit more room I like to go for one of their more elaborate desserts like their Flourless Molten Chocolate Volcano Cake. This is so delicious you never want it to end. If you like more exotic desserts, go for the mochi! If you haven’t heard of mochi, they are these little balls of sweet dough filled with different flavors of ice cream. It may sound a little strange if you’ve never had it but it really is incredible. Koi has all the standard ice cream flavored mochi like strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, and coffee. But they also have several more exotic flavors like passionfruit, green tea, red bean, honeydew and lychee! So good!
One thing is certain: celebrities love Koi. Which ones in particular? Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Lindsay Lohan, Miley Cyrus, Paula Abdul, Avril Lavigne, George Clooney, Jessica Simpson, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Jennifer Garner, Jamie Lynn Siegler, Jennifer Lopez, and even Madonna have all been spotted at Koi! What do they love about it so much? Perhaps its the exclusive atmosphere: it has dark booths, romantic zen-like interiors and even a koi pond! Or maybe it’s the option for privacy: Koi has a red-curtained private room where celebs can hide away while they enjoy a delicious meal. There’s even a private entrance so the celebs don’t have to be captured by paparazzi if they don’t want to be! But of course, the celebrities wouldn’t show up if the food wasn’t star quality. And indeed with dishes like Salmon Carpaccio, Creamy Rock Shrimp and their famous Crispy Rice, what more could a foodie celebrity want? Great service of course! The staff is extremely welcoming, respectful, knowledgeable, and attentive. Those celebs aren’t going to be waiting around for their food to arrive or their server to bring their drinks at Koi. Everything is prompt, professional and polite!
Koi Los Angeles has a really special zen-like and romantic atmosphere with separate dining spaces. The space is really broken up into 4 dining rooms plus a lounge and bar area. When you walk in you’ll see the sleek dark bar in front of you. The bar is great if you don’t have a reservation. You can eat at the bar and generally not have to wait too long. There’s also a lounge area just adjacent to the bar where you can also dine without a reservation. It’s a great place to eat if you just want sushi and no main hot dishes (the tables are small so they might not fit more elaborate meals). If you want to eat in one of the main dining rooms, you’ll probably need a reservation. The first dining room near the entrance feels lounge-like, dark, and intimate. It’s a great area if you like to people watch because you’ll see everyone as they enter. Next to the first dining room, there’s a cool open zen patio area. It’s very covered, but they do have heaters out there that work really well. I once ate out there in November and was toasty warm! The third dining area feels more modern and bright. I’ve always thought it would be a great place to eat if you were going to eat lunch at Koi because it feels just a little more casual than the rest of the restaurant. There’s also a really sleek private dining room that seats up to 50 and has an intimate lounge feel. Whatever the occasion, Koi has a dining room with an atmosphere that’s right for it!
As much as I and everyone else would love to be able to go to Koi every night for dinner, most of us can only afford to go every now and then for special occasions. If you’re only going to be in town for one night and want to go to Koi, you’ll want to makes sure you try the very best Koi dishes. So without further ado, here are the dishes that I find have been reviewed most positively consistently (and they’re definitely some of my favorites):
Koi Crispy Rice: Spicy Tuna or Yellowtail Tartare over Crispy Rice
I recommend the Spicy Tuna if you only choose one. It’s the classic way to eat crispy rice and Koi does it really well.
Creamy Rock Shrimp
Little pieces of shrimp tempura coated in a delicious cream sauce. Nothing else like it!
Delicious cuts of salmon sashimi in a soy type sauce but really you have to try it to understand. I frequently order seconds.
Your Favorite Sushi
When you go to such a fancy restaurant, you might feel strange ordering something as simple as salmon sushi or tuna sushi, but I think Koi really shines here. So order at least an order of your favorite Sushi.
Baked Lobster Roll
So decadent. So much more than a roll. You have to try it. It’s exactly what it sounds like but the sauce is just incredible.
I’ve talked a lot about my favorite Koi dishes (salmon carpaccio, creamy rock shrimp, spicy tuna on crispy rice) and recently wrote about my favorite Koi cocktails (lychee martini!) but I think it’s time to give props to the incredible service I’ve gotten every time I’ve gone. First, I’ve never had to wait for a table when I had a reservation. Not once! That rarely happens. Especially at LA hotspots like Koi that frequently have celebrities show up who might take your place in line for a table. But unlike other celebrity hotspots, Koi never makes me feel like I’m less important or less valuable.
Koi is great at honoring requests for specific tables (especially if you call in advance). I particularly like the patio half-circle booths, but then again, so does everyone else. But so long as I request it when I make my reservation, I always get one! I love restaurants that keep their promises.
I’m always so pleased by my servers’ knowledge and charisma. Since I’m quite familiar with the menu I always ask my server lots of questions about the specials and they always seem to know what to recommend to me based on what my favorite dishes are. I’ve also noticed that the servers always seem available, but they don’t hover. They don’t make you feel like you need to rush. Plus, if you order a lot of dishes, they’re great at timing it so that not everything comes out at once (which means you have to eat the hot items first). Furthermore, I’ve dined here on occasion with a friend of mine who has dietary restrictions and they’ve been very accommodating to her needs.
Plus–the bathrooms are always tidy! Not all restaurants can manage that (and I’m so grossed out when they can’t) so props to Koi!