Koi Japanese Tapas Bar – Vancouver, BC (Canada)

Koi Japanese Tapas Bar opened up early this year serving up creative Japanese Tapas outside of downtown Vancouver. Daummy started working there when they opened and talked about it so much that I HAD to eat there (and of course to support our friends’ business). I made sure to keep my expectations at bay so this write up could be as fair as possible.

I was quite surprised at how tiny the place is, with about 5 tables it seats a little over 25 people comfortably The decor is very modern (deceivingly considering the exterior of the restaurant)~ There are plans to expand, so lets keep our fingers crossed.

Menu well categorised with a handful of choices for each: Raw, Sushi rolls, Deep Fried, Salads, Rice Bowls, Noodles & Desserts

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We ordered:

Beef Tartare $8.20

Raw beef w Quail Egg

The beef came cut in nice chunks, not all ground up and tiny unidentifiable bits. It was tossed with a light sweet almost teriyaki like sauce, some apple sauce and the quail egg. Surprisingly light dish. Pretty darn good although I felt it was missing something to eat it with – something crispy.

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Tempura White Fish $7.80

Tempura Japanese Kisu Fish drizzled with sweet mayo sauce

I rarely order tempura when there are so many interesting options but R suggested it and had only good things to say. I was really surprised when it hit the table. The portion was pretty large. With over 8 pieces of cute little deboned Kisu fish, tails intact.  The fish was surprisingly moist, light and well battered. It was drizzled with mayo & sweet unagi sauce.

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Chicken Karaage $6.80

Deep fried chicken with garlic mayo

My favourite of the day! I am a total sucker for deep fried chicken, doesn’t matter the seasoning or marinade or type of cuisine. If it is crispy on the outside and juicy inside – I am in love. And I am definitely in love here. They were amazingly large juicy chunks of well marinated deep fried chicken thigh served with a garlic mayo. The garlic mayo had a nice punch from fresh garlic bits and cuts the grease from deep frying.

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Kimchi Mentai Yaki Udon $8.50

Stir Fry kimchi udon w mentaiko and sprinkled w nori

One of the best around vancouver.Meep and I used to love ordering this dish from Hapa Izakaya located downtown  and I have to say: Hapa has nothing on Koi for this dish. Lotsa kimchi and mentaiko w/o being too salty. It was evenly coated with mentaiko sauce and kimchi juice. Every bite was delicious!!

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Koi Extreme Roll $8.95

Avocado, prawn tempura, grilled eel topped w deep fried onions

I was skeptical about this roll but it was actually pretty darn tasty! The crispy onions was an interesting addition; think onion rings but less batter/grease with a nice kick (from some spice in the batter) to it. They were complemented by the avocado and grilled eel, which gave it a nice creaminess (along with the drizzle of mayo & tobiko on top). So there is a bit of sweet creamy mayo; tiny salty tobiko bits; spice & crispiness from the onions and shellfish flavours from the prawn and unagi. So much going on, but it works so well.

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Miso Duck Carpaccio $7.50

Duck carpaccio drizzled with miso & balsamic reduction.

This was my least favourite dish of the day. That being said, it was not bad and still a crowd favourite because of the flavours. The miso sauce n balsamic work surprisingly well but the duck was a tad too chewy for me. I was not used to the layer of fat left on the duck and that was the only thing I did not like about the dish.

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Deep Fried Banana w ice cream $5.95

The bananas were wrapped in springroll wrapper and deep fried. Once fried, the banana has a creamier texture and becomes quite sweet. Went really well with the generous amount of chocolate & vanilla ice cream. The spring rolls could have been fried a little longer because it was not as crispy as it could have been. Overall, not bad.

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Tofu Cheesecake $6

This is a crowd pleaser. Definitely not your typical cheesecake. The texture is more gelatinous yet creamy with a lemony aftertaste, served with honey and crackers. Imagine eating cheese & crackers but better coz it is a sweet dessert~ The combination was pretty addictive.

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Total Damage: N/A (check out prices on the menu~)

Personal Rating: N/A

I can’t tell you how much it cost because I didn’t foot the bill. For the purpose of full disclosure; I know both owners personally and only wish them success in this venture~ That being said, the food rivals any other izakaya places around Vancouver (check out the Yelp reviews).

Prices are very reasonable, considering the portion size and quality of the dishes. Service is very laid back and does have the izakaya feel~

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Koi Japanese Tapas Bar

630 Kingsway
Vancouver, BC
V5T 3K4

(604) 566 9263

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