My wife goes to LA several times a year and has heard the hubub about Koi and wanted to be one of the first of her coworkers to check it out. Reason enough for me and so we made it happen. Also, a group of coworkers and clients of hers tried to get reservations for this upcoming Wednesday and had no luck. More reason still. And lastly, today was a big day for her - review/raise/bonus day. Clearly a great reason to try something new.
So I called this afternoon to see if we'd be able to get a table for a light meal. To my surprise - getting a table was remarkably effortless. 8:45. No problem. Red flag?
So we head over and quite frankly, I had my doubts about this place from the get-go. Nothing about it intrigued me. And the decor was pretty hideous. The honeycombed "fisherman's net" that is supposed to represent some aspect of feng shui (wind, they tell me) takes up the back wall and entire length of the main dining room. Danna's comment made me think twice about this. She said "What are we - the fish?" And indeed, I felt trapped.
Traces of ILO are everywhere still. The banquets are the same - maybe with new fabric. The columns of subway tiles that hold the room up now have some dark strips of wood randomly placed on top of the subway tiles. Please guys, don't try so hard.
We were sat in the top area near the sushi bar. Which was fine. The place was somewhat busy but not packed. A few empty tables here and there. And pretty quiet. Not much to talk about perhaps.
Which brings me to the food.
Danna isn't that adventurous, but has really been keeping an open mind lately. For example, she wanted to try some sushi she'd never had before. So, since this was her day, I avoided trying to change her mind to wait to go elsewhere for the sushi.
She had the miso soup ("average", "you don't need to try it" were her words), edamame (she still loves it, me no thanks), a toro scallion roll, an eel and avocado roll and that was about it. The fish was pretty good. The seaweed was terrible. You can find better for certain but the fish was good. The eel was particularly nice.
I had the Cucumber Sonomono (traditional pickled cucumber) which was very good. Nicely cut (even, thin) cucumber with skin, in a sesame dressing. This was a pretty dish and tasted very nice. Things were looking good. Then I tried the Miso Bronzed Black Cod with baby bok choy, snow peas and mushroom. Hmm. This was really pretty bad. I haven't had the dish at Nobu, but I can't imagine it tastes anything like this. I ate about half of it. I should have heeded caution when I saw the barely touched miso cod on the table two down from ours. The waiter said it marinated for 2 days. Now, call me crazy, but that doesn't sound right. And if, which I am sure it is, is true, I think they should marinate it for a day less. The fish just wasn't tasty. The miso was everpresent and perhaps a bit strong for my liking, and the flavor of the fish was blank, bordering on overcooked-tasting.
We ordered two glasses of the Australian (cookaburra?) Shiraz they had. Bad finish. Just not a great drinking wine. We also ordered the still water which was actually quite good. The wine-by the glass list was pretty mediocre. Funny moment when the two guys next to us were talking about I Trulli. Funny (if you know me and my posts about I trulli.
I don't see this place lasting very long. Maybe a year. Maybe. Ilo, for example, was far better and cooler and we saw how quickly that place folded.