Living in Abu Dhabi, you're spoilt for choice with excellent eateries and 'five star' restaurants on every corner. When Scott and I decided to head out for an improptu dinner date last Friday evening, we thought we would try the hot off the heels from L.A. and highly commended Koi Japanese Restaurant situated in The Collection on Saadiyat Island.
The restaurant itself has definite 'curb appeal' and the chic Asian influences can be felt throughout - I'm looking at you, bamboo wall. The atmosphere is sophisticated with the upbeat music giving it a more trendy vibe.
Scott and I chose to dine inside; although the restaurant does have an outdoor seating option - which seemed to be where most of the guests were situated. Although the weather is really heating up now in Abu Dhabi, I'm still not quite there with the comfortable, 'outdoor eating' temperature in the evenings.
The menu was simple - concise, but with a variety of dishes to suit everyone - from Sushi and Signature Rolls to Grilled Lamb Chops and Peppercorn Filet Mignon.
The serving staff were helpful and thorough in their explanation of the menu. Scott and I opted for the Lobster Tacos and the Creamy Rock Shrimp Tempura to start.
The Lobster Tacos were served with a mango salsa and yuzu guacamole. I was surprised to find that this dish was served cold, and despite my initial reservations, I was pleased to find that it was a well-balanced and light starter option. However the star was the Creamy Rock Shrimp Tempura - which we were told was one of their most popular dishes. I can see why. Moreish bites of tempura battered shrimp in a creamy, spiced sauce seems to be a popular dish out here - I have seen it on several restaurant menus and this one is a top contender. I could quite happily have eaten a whole serving of this as my main and I wouldn't have walked away feeling disappointed.
For our mains, we ordered the Steamed Chilean Seabass with ichimi, ginger and shiitake mushrooms, as well as another one of their more popular dishes, the Kobe Style Filet Mignon "Toban-Yaki" with asparagus and mushrooms. We also opted for a side dish of Shishito Mashed Potatoes - I'm a mash kinda girl!
The beef dish was incredible. The meat was beautifully cooked, tender and juicy. The teriyaki sauce was honestly, something else. It was rich and flavoursome with a sweet yet slight tang to it. It was one of the better beef dishes that I've tried since being in the UAE and I would highly recommend. The seabass on the other hand really wasn't to my liking. I'm not the biggest 'fish-eater' and for me, this was too fishy a dish for my tastes. I found it was uninspiring and lacked any other real flavour - with Scott, the more fish-inclined of the two of us, stating that he felt the dish was a little bland. I really wish we'd ordered the Miso Bronzed Black Cod as I think this would have been more to our liking. Maybe next time.
And because all of that clearly wasn't enough, we decided to go the whole hog and order desserts too. I was thrilled to see Sticky Toffee Pudding on the menu as it's probably my most favourite dessert and doesn't seem to be particularly commonplace on menus in Abu Dhabi - or from my experience anyway. The Flourless Chocolate Fondant was Scott's choice and it was a close call for favourites. Both were fantastic and a perfect end to the meal.
We had a thoroughly enjoyable evening at Koi, with my only real bug bear being that we did feel a little rushed - with half of our plates being removed as we were still eating and on a couple of occasions, as we were still picking from them. That to one side, I did feel that the service as a whole was really good and the food fantastic. We would definitely love to return to sample more from the menu.
For more information you can visit Koi's website here or call +971 2 678 3334 to make a reservation.