Koi, Rosebank – Restaurant Review – 2nd September 2012

Asian jewel in the Rosebank Firs

The Japanese word Koi doesn’t refer only to those brightly coloured, but slightly fierce, pond fish.  It also connotes love, friendship and affection.  Koi restaurant in Rosebank is a super place to enjoy an Asian meal with friends and nurture these connections.

South Africa boasts many shopping centers which host a multitude of restaurants.  More often than not, these spaces are a bit impersonal and cold.  Koi is fortunate in its location.  The square at The Firs is bordered by several restaurants, all of which open onto a large, fountain-y quad.  Koi has an extensive outside seating area.  There are sofas for those ‘chilling’ over a drink, as well as large tables for bigger parties.  It’s good during the day, but at night the allure of soft candlelight really beckons one in.  So, Koi can be quite romantic.

A comprehensive wine list awaits the eager diner.  There is a wide range of tempting cocktails, and an ample choice of wines to satisfy every palate and budget.  You could start off with a South African MCC, or enjoy a bottle of Dom Perignon.  Some of South Africa’s finest wines feature.  Oak Valley Pinot Noir (Platter 5 Star) and the Rust en Vrede Estate Blend are both showstoppers.  A whole page of the wine list is devoted to Sake, many different varieties and some food pairings recommended.  A good selection of non-alcoholic cocktails and herbal teas awaits designated drivers and other non-consumers.  This time round, we ordered a bottle of Dombeya Chardonnay, anticipating that a woody white would go well with the seafood-based dishes we were going to order.

The dim-sum at Koi are delicious.  I went for the more calorific options: steamed spinach and cream cheese as well as a portion of steamed salmon and cream cheese topped with caviar.  I especially enjoy this luxury dish, the caviar pops in your mouth and saltiness balances the velvety creaminess from the salmon.  There are fine dim-sum combo platters, with the starter platter of six proving a hit with my fellow diner.  Tasty filling combinations like prawn, green beans and edamame as well as butternut, spinach, mushroom and pine nuts are standard Koi fare.  Furthermore, they seem amenable to adjusting platter combinations if for some reason one of the options does not appeal – a real thumbs up in terms of flexibility.  Unfortunately, I am still compelled to rant on about serving dim-sum in steamers without the lids on.  As mentioned in my YuMe review, removing the lid of the steamer causes the dim-sum to cool down quickly, getting dry and sticky – ultimately an unappealing morsel.

There is also a variety of other starters.  I had the prawn, cheese and coriander spring rolls served with a mild chilli sauce.  These are quite fabulous and the unusual combination is first-rate.  Very hot, and golden-crispy, the melted cheese and prawn contrasts perfectly in texture to the crunchy pastry.  Coriander steps-up the flavor – really worth a try.  You can also sample the likes of oysters, tempura soft shell crab and firecracker shrimp with a spicy mayo dipping sauce.

We didn’t have mains this time, preferring to stick to a selection of the super-fresh sushi and sashimi for which Koi is well known.  If you are in the market for an Asian inspired main course, though, you won’t be disappointed.  A grand choice awaits; from salads for the health conscious to noodle and other dishes like sesame-crusted, seared tuna or salmon.  I can recommend that worldwide favourite, crispy Peking duck, without hesitation.

We have never been disappointed by the sushi at Koi.  It is always fresh, cut and presented beautifully and the dishes are adventurous and exciting.  If you’re lucky, you may go on a day when line-fish, like sea-bass or butterfish, is available.  We enjoyed the new style tuna sashimi with an Asian dressing and the Koi Rock ‘n Roll.  This is a spicy tuna and salmon California roll with avo, wrapped in salmon and tuna and topped off with sesame oil and seven spice.  Sushi regulars, like nigiri, fashion sandwiches and maki are also available.

The service at Koi is pretty good.  Staff are obliging and familiar with the menu, though they sometimes get distracted which can result in incorrect plates being delivered to table.  This may stem from that feat of cognitive recall to which most waiters seem partial – remembering a complex order for a large table without writing down a thing!  There can also be confusion as to when each dish should be served – be very clear about what you want, and when you want it, in your order.

For a fantastic Asian meal, with something for everyone and in a central location, Koi is right on the money.  Large spaces, many tables, large portions, gorgeous presentation and a festive time awaits.

When it comes to the money, though, it is relatively expensive in my opinion.  1 bottle wine, 2 portions dim-sum, 1 dim-sum platter, 1 portion spring roll, 1 sashimi dish and 1 sushi dish came to R 690.00 including tip.

You can contact Koi Rosebank on + 27 (0) 11 447 2440

The review was sent to the restaurant on 16th September 2012

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