(Dec. 2, 2011)
By Erika F. Washington
When it comes to Vegas and sushi you can pick up a dragon roll on almost every corner from Sunset to Red Rock, so standing out from the pack takes a little more effort, especially on the Strip.
From the time you enter into the main dining area of KOI, you can’t help but to notice the décor has a decidedly feng-shui feel to it. The casual blend of earthy wood and smooth onyx weaved throughout showcases KOI’s interpretation of casual glamour directly above the Planet Hollywood casino floor. Separate and unique dining areas offer many options; dine at the sushi bar front and center and watch the experts as they swiftly slice and roll a tailored array of fresh salmon and tuna. Sink into the low booths surrounded by pillows and smooth velvet that overlook the brilliant light show of the Las Vegas strip or glide behind crystal beaded curtains into your own semi-private dining nook where you have a bird’s eye view of the action while maintaining a real sense of intimacy.
Being the most authentic Japanese restaurant on the strip doesn’t seem to be their top concern. What KOI does boast is something the Japanese call ‘iki’, a visual idea of understated elegance. Las Vegans call this swag. The menu is layered with character with many common sushi-fare selections, however, the staff is eager to please and is extremely accommodating with specially requested orders.
Sashimi: The Salmon Carpaccio is a perfect starter to a romantic evening. The slices are the perfect pink hue and have a firm slightly salty texture that melts like sashimi should. The Halibut is laid on a swirl of yuzu pepper chimichurri sauce. Subtle, but after the second or third bite your tongue surprisingly finds the pepper hiding behind the sweetness.
The Red Kuri Squash Dumplings are a new addition to the menu for the cool winter months. Japanese squash is delicately wrapped dumpling noodles and served in a slightly sweet sauce.
Salad: Two firm sea scallops flank a bed of vibrant tatsoi leaves that hide but don’t overpower the delicate slices of sunchokes that hide beneath. Three crispy tempura dipped onions slices give just the right amount of texture to the warm salad drizzled with brown butter vinaigrette.
Main course: A filling portion of tender steak filet slices are served resting on sliced mushrooms and asparagus.
Dessert: Try the delightfully sweet chocolate-vanilla crème brulee with rich Tahitian vanilla or their signature cheesecake enveloped in a rich mixed berry sauce offers a superb way to top off or start your evening.
The bar is fully stocked with premium liquors and specialty drinks rotate every season. The Smoke and Spice margarita is exactly how it sounds; a finely mixed concoction featuring Patron, Grand Marnier and sriracha served straight-up, with a salty kick.
A variety of sakes are available to sample including a delightful apple infused and the lychee.
Not necessarily unique to Las Vegas, but a great feature about KOI is the after-hours club. The entire restaurant seems to seamlessly switch gears and invites guests to throw down their chop sticks and head to the dance floor. KOI’s ultra lounge features a resident DJ who spins some of the best R&B and rap of the 90’s and beyond. Constantly running drink specials, including one of the best happy hours on the strip, including a weekly a ladies nights and open bar with a paid wristband.
KOI is open for dinner and happy hour nightly at 5:30, and can accommodate private or semi-events upon request. The Ultra lounge jumps off nightly from 10:30pm to 4:00am. Click here to make reservations at KOI! You can also click here to read our recent interview with owner Nick Haque.