Los Angeles (310) 659-9449
730 N. La Cienega
Los Angeles

SNAPSHOT: There are so many yummy things at this restaurant... we started with the sliced Tuna over Crispy Rice (their signature dish), which was nothing short of magnificent. Scott's not a sushi guy... but had a religious transformation over this dish. With Maine running through Michael's veins, he had to try the Lobster Roll... very different and sophisticated. 3.5 Stars

Just off one of L.A.’s busiest thoroughfares is a secret garden. You wouldn’t know it to drive by, and even the army of valets and security folks might hasten you from discovering it, but just walk through the gates and suddenly you’re in an Asian garden so impeccably clean and fastidious, you might think you’re in a Buddhist temple in Kyoto; or a stealthy retreat in the hills of Chang Mai.

Trickling fountains with discrete lighting invite you into a series of rooms that each has their own intriguing character and sense of place. We were warmly welcomed by a pretty hostess and ushered off to a comfortable booth in what appeared to be the main room. It was nice to be amongst all the action (and the crowd varied from a family with teen kids to smoothly dressed professionals), but a tour of the remaining rooms revealed other stirring spots for future visits. And there will be future visits, because the atmosphere was only the beginning of a sensational dining experience.

Jamison, our equally handsome and proficient waiter who has been at Koi for almost six years, rushed to our table with the adroit knowledge of both the food and drink menus. Although we found the “by the glass” selection of wines to be limited, Jamison’s understanding of what was featured helped Scott towards his selection of a tasty Robert Mondavi 2004 cab at $38 (ouch) or $320 for the bottle. Michael opted for the cold Shikomi sake, a bargain at $25, because Jamison described it as crisp and clear; it was an accurate portrayal and we were off to a great start.

There are so many yummy things at this restaurant that we decided to try a sampling of items in the hopes of finding something we disliked; as the dishes arrived, our quest seemed like an impossible task. We started with the sliced Tuna over Crispy Rice ($15), which was nothing short of magnificent. Scott’s not a sushi guy, but he nearly had a religious transformation over this dish, which offered up a chewy and flavorful backdrop to a mild and fresh tuna. With Maine running through Michael’s veins, he had to try the Lobster Roll ($22); very different than anything you’d find at a roadside stand, this lobster roll was a sophisticated paste loaded with deliciously spiced lobster and gingerly placed on a delicate roll.

The Creamy Rock Shrimp ($16) was amongst the Duo’s favorite selection. We think they’re called “rock” shrimp because of the way the flavors rocked our mouths. The shrimp had a slight crispy crunch and the creamy residue made us scream for more. Although Michael’s not a fan of Black Cod ($26) in general, this preparation was a taste treat. It was fragile and flakey and had a smoky flavor that lingered on your taste buds. Another favorite—and believe us it was difficult to select “favorites”—was the Special Duck ($28). It came towards the end of our eating orgy and yet the flavors and tenderness of the meat was distinct and superb. Although it was unclear whether the salmon was wild, its presentation and preparation put it amongst our list of favorites. The fish was cooked to a perfect degree; it was delicate and practically melted in our mouths.

Stuffed to the gills, we forced ourselves to try a sampling of desserts because after all, everything had been so sensational thus far, how could the desserts be anything less? The Mochi, an ice cream surrounded by a rice covering of sorts, was unusual and although not native to Japan (they don’t eat sweets like we Yanks do), it maintained an Asian style. We loved the coffee flavored Mochi, but the rich chocolate cake was out of this world, with a moist and molten chocolaty center; but unlike most of the clones of this dessert, the chocolate itself was fine and smooth as black silk.
We don’t know how many times we’ve driven past this hidden treasure without stopping, but we can tell you one thing for certain, we’ll be stopping in there again, and soon!

Posted by The Dining Duo | 5:05 PM | , , , | 0 comments »

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