Restaurant Review: Koi Restaurant & Lounge, The Collection, The St Regis Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi
You've got to drop a few names when talking about Koi. George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Justin Timberlake, Jessica Alba and Mariah Carey are all fans of the restaurant that has branches in Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas and Bangkok. Serving contemporary Japanese cuisine, Koi has the kind of fashionable heritage that travels fast in glam foodie circles.
The Abu Dhabi venue had its official launch on 19 December 2013 and that's where we got a taste of Koi. First impressions: this is a seriously chic spot. Happily, it doesn't look like it's trying hard to be chic, it just is. Between the cocktail lounge, sushi bar, pre-drinks area, lounge and restaurant, it's a combination of mood lighting (including super-cute button mushroom shaped lamps) and inventive panelling (think interesting bamboo wall divider).
Koi's signature dishes, which we tried first, were easily the pick of the menu for us. The crispy rice with yellowtail tartare (Dhs77) and lobster tacos with mango salsa and yuzu gaucomole (Dhs132) are the stuff of foodie dreams. There's a lot packed into these clever starters that are crunchy at first and then dissolve in a mouthful of superbly seasoned softness.
Then came another signature dish: salmon carpaccio (Dhs94). Cleanly done and melt-in-your-mouth, it was over entirely too soon and we were left craving more.
We must also mention Rok'N'Roll (Dhs176). As the name suggest, this is a signature roll with personality. Soft shell crab, spicy tuna and baked crab topped with toro and gold leaves equals a delicious dance for your palate.
From our mains that also included peppercorn filet mignon (Dhs187) and oven roasted chicken breast, Koi's nicely done steamed Chilean sea bass (Dhs176) stood out but is there any popular Japanese restaurant that doesn't do a nice sea bass? Head to Koi for its distinctive signature dishes, cool vibe and dreamy banoffee cheesecake. That's what makes it stand apart.
INFO: Koi Abu Dhabi opens from 6.30 pm to 1 am (Saturday to Wednesday) and 6.30 pm to 2 am (Thursday and Friday), for reservations or private dining requests, call 02 678 3334.