There is nothing coy about Koi, the restaurant, lounge bar and nightclub where the denizens of Bangkok’s uber nightlife indulge in refined cocktails and Japanese fusion food created with Californian twists. With the inherited DNA of mother branches in Los Angeles (a favourite of Hollywood A-listers) and New York, the venue is imbued with an air of cool self-assurance.
Located at the 39th floor adjacent to the extensive space that was once Ce La Vi nightclub (now The Club @ Koi), Koi restaurant boasts a décor by renowned local interior design outfit Studio Fifty Four that is contemporary but softened with natural accents—wooden floors, tables and wall panels, leather upholstered seats and banquettes and light shades fashioned like woven baskets. As with its counterparts on America’s East and West coasts it attracts the jet set, the beautiful party people who pull in their slipstream coteries of the young and upwardly mobile who want international lifestyle experiences and have the means to enjoy them.
Koi is a great spot for meeting up with friends for pre-clubbing drinks and dinner or a post-party late supper and nightcap. Try to arrive around sunset and head to the lounge bar for an aperitif and magnificent views of the city below. Recommended cocktails include Midnight Train to Sathorn, a refreshing sweet-sour gin and Aperol mix with grapefruit and lime, and Heaven on Earth, an exotic tropical concoction of spiced rum, mango liqueur, strawberry puree, lime, passion fruit juice and peach bitters.
As with the setting, the cuisine served at Koi has a casual American assertiveness to it. Not as traditional as Japanese sushi (think less formal and more robust), it is nevertheless nicely balanced with contrasting textures and the fresh flavours of seasonal ingredients such as Hokkaido scallops, ebi prawns and salmon, which are sourced twice weekly from Japan. Incidentally, the portions here are also typically American in size and therefore ideal for sharing.
Popular signature dishes from the Koi restaurants in the US make it onto the menu and one of these standout offerings is Geleno roll, a maki roll named after the patron who first asked for it as a special request. It comprises spicy tuna, cucumber, crispy spinach and onion, and kuzu ponzu. Great to taste, the only difficulty with it is working out how to eat the substantial pieces without looking like a complete pig! A locally inspired alternative is Koi crispy rice, rectangles of sticky rice topped with a choice of spicy tuna or salmon. Seared in truffle oil, each bite is crispy on the outside but soft at the centre and has a lingering mild spicy finish. Also excellent for sharing is creamy white shrimp tempura topped with crispy onion. Served with a dipping sauce of sesame mayonnaise infused with Japanese chilli powder, it is at once deeply satisfying and very moreish.
Another standout dish is miso bronzed black cod, in which the delicate fish is cooked to a flaky tenderness and beautifully presented. While the saikyo miso glaze isn’t as sweet as you might find in a Japanese restaurant, it has a lovely smooth, buttery consistency. The preponderance of seafood is not uncommon in this style of cuisine but if you crave something meaty, the wonderful grilled New Zealand lamb chops accompanied by couscous and tomato is a must. Served with a peppery ichimi sauce, the tender chops are cooked to a perfect pink blush while he neutrality of the couscous and the sharpness of the tomatoes help to offset the overall richness of the dish.
It is easy to over-indulge on the generous offerings at Koi but if you do have room for a dessert try the chocolate soufflé with almond crumble and white chocolate ice cream. A fine way to end a meal, it is light in texture but rich in flavour—a bit like Koi itself really, laid-back but with a spontaneous sophistication.
Koi Restaurant & Lounge
39th floor, Sathorn Square, Silom
Open Tue-Sun, 6pm-1am