Fine Dining Review: All Stars For KOI Restaurant & Lounge in Abu Dhabi

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Not everyday do you get to dine with such perfection. So when you have the opportunity you need to make the most of it. And so did I. George Clooney, Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake, Mariyah Carey are a few Hollywood A-listers who are fans of this international Japanese Restaurant & Lounge. And we couldn’t help, but join the party in our small little way.

Located at the entrance of The Collection at St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, KOI Restaurant & Lounge is a unique high quality Japanese eatery. From what I saw I think the KOI stood out from the other restaurants around The Collection, only because of its branding and standalone property.

Related Review: The Meat Co Affair

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Illuminated by candlelight, KOI creates an intimate yet sleek dining and lounge environment. Which I think was pretty neat. Upon our arrival, the restaurant manager Jeeva welcomed us happily and seated us at the lounge area. The area around the lounge has a massive Japanese bar view where you see the bartender showing off his antics, the resident DJ building up the tempo for the evening, and guests waiting to be seated for dinner. Well if you’re like me you would pick out your mocktails and cocktails while lounging, which is a great way to build your appetite. When our Burmese server arrived I took her recommendation and ordered the KOI Saketini and my co-reviewer went with the plane Orange Juice. Our beverages arrived in style and were accompanied by a few crisps and the popular ‘Edamame’. The KOI Saketini was an output of some amazing Sake, Lychee Juice and the Elderflower syrup, which I loved very much. And I kept drinking that all through the night whereas my co-reviewer also sampled the LA Woman.

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The pretty dim lighting added a sense of drama, style and created a relaxing atmosphere at KOI. We were in the midst of enjoying our time by the lounge, only until we were called upon to check out the dining area. The area up for dining was pretty brilliant so you’d have little dining areas for parties, couches around and the chic sushi bar. We opted to go for the couch area considering we’d decided to stay around for a while. And I’m so glad we did.

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Jeeva was back again to run us through our meal this night. We were informed about the California-Style Japanese dining experience meaning the food served would need to be shared and each of the dishes featured a unique twist on traditional Japanese cuisine. First up, we’d been offered the small and medium appetizers, which included the ‘Salads’ and other popular appetizers followed by the sushi rolls. For Salads we choose to sample the ‘Seaweed Medley’ and ‘Creamy Spicy Calamari Salad’. Both of them were crisp, fresh though the calamari salad had a tangy ending for those who love their food a little sour. We also sampled the Creamy Rock Tempura’, ‘Lobster Tacos’, ‘KOI Crispy Rice and some ‘Fresh Oysters’ from the restaurants signature appetizers. True to the Japanese styling of dining we gathered them all in small portions and shared them together. My friend who joined me at the review loved the ‘KOI Crispy Rice’, ‘Fresh Oysters (seasoned with soya, lemon and herbs) more than I did actually. However we both enjoyed  the ‘Lobster Tacos’ which were a crisp assortment of tangy lobsters filled with herbs into Tacos and the ‘Creamy Rock Tempura’. I’d like to highlight that every time guests order the ‘Creamy Rock Tempura’ the restaurant donates a percentage of the proceeds towards Breast Cancer Arabia. It’s not the only reason we love the rock tempura as much as we did, but it honestly tasted wonderful.

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Our appetizers kept coming in small portions and we continued to sample them as we were highly intrigued by the restaurants offerings. The sushi rolls were next; they began to tumble on our table. Oh! What a wide assortment of rolls KOI had to offer – we spotted the California Maki rolls, Dragon Rolls, Lobster rolls etc but there were more than I could name. The Dragon rolls smite us and I think they’d been the best I had ever tried in the capital.

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Though we were filling up our appetite already, the waitress and restaurant manager always made it a point to pass by every table every time. We’re certain the staff in here is very well trained and they know how to take care of their guests. But what was overwhelming to me was to see the Chef Daisuke Yoshizak took time out from his busy kitchen and came over to chat with me. A humble man who spoke less but let his magical hands do all the cooking in the restaurants elegant open kitchen. The Chef informed us during our chat that he’d prepared us two of the most popular mains.

Well obviously by then we were excited and looking forward to relishing what was awaiting us.

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Miso Bronzed Black Cod’ with vegetables and ‘Peppercorn Fillet Mignon’ comprised of our mains. As fancy as the names read the dishes individually tasted even more brilliant than your senses can imagine. ‘Peppercorn Fillet Mignon’ is not your ordinary beefsteak rather a more detailed marinating and time consuming preparation to your aged Australian beef. And then my co-reviewer and I sampled the Black Cod, which was divine and probably the best I’d had ever. I was skeptical to try the Black Cod initially because I’d already made a great impression of the restaurant in my mind and I didn’t want that to be tarnished if the Black Cod didn’t turn out to taste the way it did. This wasn’t the case at KOI, the Cod fish fillet was soft, fluffy, and accompanied by the glazed and some mushrooms.

We were down to our last and final course, desserts. Well who doesn’t love them and especially when prepared with such finesse, you wouldn’t want to miss them.We greedily ordered the KOI Sundae well for two people to share for our final meal.

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And it arrived just in time to greet us goodbye. The sundae looked tempting in every possible way, well if you are a dark chocolate lover like me then I’d call this moment ‘love at first bite’.

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Are you going back to KOI? If that’s a question anybody would ask me, I’d have to be mean to them. There’s no way you ain’t coming back to a place as marvelous as the one spoken off here. It’s the intricate food preparation, great service staff, comfy ambience that got me to stay longer than I expected that night at KOI. And I’m certain to attend their Friday/ Thursday Brunches soon enough. Or perhaps join Chef Daisuke Yoshizak on one of his masterclass sessions soon.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this review. And do let me know if you’ve eaten at KOI or another popular Japanese restaurant in your city.

Disclaimer:  My friend and I were invited to sample food at the restaurant. KOI Restaurant & Lounge at The Collection did not advise us about anything. Pictures were shot on my iPhone 6 and Fujifilm AX-1. Do credit the writer/ photographer should you want to share the images.




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