An artificial stream leading to the restaurant houses a hundred koi fish, Japanese brocaded carp, which inspired the restaurant’s name. For my son, what impressed him most was not the food but this fish pond.
Located in a small alley, the restaurant offers diners a quiet place to enjoy Japanese food including sushi, sashimi, tempura, hot pot and grills.
Like other Japanese restaurants, Sushi Koi’s owner attaches special importance to sushi. Visitors can fill up an empty stomach with different kinds of sushi made from vinegar rice, seaweed and meat, seafood, vegetables or fish.
The most popular kind of sushi is maki, which is generally wrapped in nori (seaweed). Maki is usually cut into six or eight pieces, which constitutes a single roll order. The increasing popularity of sushi around the world has resulted in variations typically found in Western countries. For example, Sushi Koi serves California roll (a maki with crab bar, cucumber, avocado and caviar).
Temaki (hand roll) is a large cone-shaped piece of nori on the outside with the ingredients spilling out the wide end. As it’s too awkward to pick up with chopsticks, we used our fingers. The restaurant serves temaki with tuna or salmon cut into tiny cubes, crab caviar and grilled eel inside the seaweed.
Nigiri (hand-pressed sushi) consists of an oblong mound of sushi rice that the chef presses into a small rectangular box between the palms of the hands, usually with a bit of wasabi, and a topping called neta draped over it. Neta are typically salmon, tuna or other seafood.
Gunkan is an oval, hand-formed clump of sushi rice that has a strip of nori or a thin slice of cucumber wrapped around its perimeter to form a vessel that is filled with some soft, loose or fine-chopped ingredients such as corn with mayonnaise, scallops and caviar.
A set of sushi mix comprising all of this can serve you well at VND400,000 (US$18).
Koi fish is a symbol of love, strong will and friendship in Japan, I decided to use it as a concept for the restaurant,” said Anh.
“I want to make the restaurant a place to spread love and friendship among people where everyone can share a passion for cuisine and relaxation.”
If you go in a group of four like us, you can order a set of grilled food which costs VND350,000 (US$16). One thing that sets Sushi Koi apart from other Japanese restaurants is the grilled food served with impressive soya sauce.
Being grilled on a stone pan without cooking oil, the food is not too greasy and retains its natural taste.
The set includes a hot pot. We decided to use half of a salmon’s head for the hot pot and the other half for a porridge pot, satisfying both adults and children.
Vuong Quynh Anh, owner of the restaurant, said she worked at a Japanese restaurant when she studied in Australia. Her passion for Japanese food has blossomed since then.
Anh collected souvenirs and paintings from Japan to decorate the restaurant in a Japanese style.
Nguyen Quang Huy, a client visitor to the restaurant, said he enjoys the good food with reasonable prices.
“I think the location in a small alley helps reduce the price of the food,” he said.
“From sushi, salad and tempura to grills and hot pot, the restaurant offers a panorama of Japanese cuisine. Every time I come, I leave with a full tummy.”