Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Koi redux: Reliably delicious

I've mentioned my favorite Seal Beach sushi place,
Koi
, many a time on this blog, one of my Top-10 sushi spots in Southern California, easily rating 5 stars for its total package of highest quality, prices (not cheap, but not outrageous) and casual, friendly atmosphere.

But I hadn't been in a coupla months, and was just starting to crave it when my friend Susan invited me to join her and new friend Mike there.
Mike's a globe-trotting (from Mississippi to Japan to Nigeria, with lots of countries and U.S. cities in between), Zen-Buddhist-Kabbala kinda guy & Asian food fan, who recently settled in Long Beach.
Susan had told him that Koi serves up the best REAL sushi in this area, and she suggested he read Rawfishionado to study up.
Mike doesn't have a lot of sushi experience, but what he's had has been good. He's a yellowtail sashimi fan, but is also very enthusiastic about trying new things.

Plus, he did read Rawfishy before our meal!

So we enjoyed a nice time sitting at the sushi bar, where we chatted with fellow diners & made a new friend (another Rawfishionado and Koi regular named Susan!), and I introduced Mike to some fish that promise to be new favorites for him.

I didn't take a lot of photos on this outing, but just look at the few I took and you'll understand why I love Koi so much.


Koi's long daily list of fresh fish reflects the exceptional quality and variety you get when you've been in business for close to three decades - which means you have great fish-monger connections.
So on this outing, we only ordered simple nigiri sushi, which really allowed the Koi Quality to shine:
Bluefin tuna

Albacore - just look at how buttery these cuts are. I think the angle makes this photo look like the pieces are swimming in citrus soy sauce, but actually, this was a very light-tasting ponzu, not overwhelming at all.

Kanpachi. Look at this slender, exquisite beauty - like a leggy supermodel, except with fresh, unvarnished taste. No wonder Mike fell in love.
(And hey Mike, if you forget the name on your next sushi outing,
just look up this post on your iPhone!)

Snapper (with a dab of yuzu on top)

Blue mackerel
I think I was the only one who ordered this one. I just love Koi's saba: it's marinated in vinegar but it's a very balanced flavor, not overwhelming. And the paper-thin slivers of kelp on top provide a subtle, refreshing touch.

We also enjoyed some perfectly broiled unagi (with a light touch of sauce - yes!) and amaebi (sweet shrimp) - though Mike wasn't too enthusiastic about the fried heads. That was fine with Susan and me - that just left more crunchy goodness for us!

And on Chef Taka's recommendation, Susan and I ordered a couple of Kushi oysters - walnut-sized, sweet and clean-tasting, tender morsels topped with a light ponzu and delicate smattering of scallions and a tiny dollop of grated radish.
(I'm really sorry I didn't get a photo of them, but I scarfed them down!)

We also enjoyed this bottle of sake:
The bill came to about $70 each (that's including tip). My stomach and soul confirmed it was worth every penny. Another satisfying Koi evening.

Koi
600 Pacific Coast Hwy, #100
Seal Beach, CA 90740
562-431-1186

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