Koi Japanese Tapas (Vancouver)

September 26th 2011

I first heard of Koi from my good friend GM. She knows of all the good eats in East Vancouver, and  brings hidden gems in her surrounding neighbourhood to my attention. Koi is one of them.

Sadly though, our schedules have never meshed and we haven’t been able to go with each other. One very boring September day, SW suggested that we embark on a foodie adventure after being bogged down by school and everything it entailed. The name Koi came up in conversation, and were then resolute on trying this “critically acclaimed (by GM and urban spoon)” restaurant.

tastyvancity ordered: 


tofu and cream cheese cake served with crackers


This was a pleasant surprise. When the waitress presented the dish, I was just staring at it in confusion. I did not recall ordering a cheesecake, but sure enough the dish before our eyes was indeed the cheese tofu! If I had read the description more carefully, I would have known not to expect a savoury   agedashi-eque tofu  immersed in cheese sauce (??? REALLY WHAT WAS I THINKING? MY COMPREHENSION SKILLS ARE SERIOUSLY ON THE DECLINE).

This appetizer definitely doubles as a dessert. The  cream cheese portion of the “cake” was light and not overly sweet. I could hardly taste the “tofu”, the namesake of this dish.  The ritz crackers complimented the cake perfectly and the waitress offered to refill my crackers when I had devoured the ones I was supplied with. The lemon glaze drizzled on top of the cake was sweet and tangy. I liked the fact that the cheese tofu could be spread on the crackers or eaten as a whole in cake form.

Just docked off the 1.5 points because I am still curious as to where the tofu went/how the tofu was implemented.


Agedashi Tofu

Kimchi Mentai Yaki-Udon – stir fry kimchi udon, mentaiko, bonito flakes

I cannot help but compare this to the “Mentaiko Udon” I had at Alpha earlier in the week. The only similarities between the two are: a) it’s udon  b) there is roe in it. I loved the creamy consistency of the mentaiko udon at Alpha. (MUST GO IF YOU ARE EVER IN THE AREA).

But back to the star of the show…

I am not a roe(mentaiko) advocate per say. I get pretty grossed out by raw roe and I do not appreciate the gritty texture, but when it is in a stir fried dish like this one- I don’t mind it at all. In fact, bring on the roe!

As far as expectations go, the kimchi mentai yaki udon has definitely met them, but it hasn’t gone above and beyond. It’s a solid dish and maybe a 3/5 on the spicy scale. The initial bites didn’t bother me too much, but towards the middle – the spiciness from the kimchi hit me.

I had no problem scarfing this one down. It’s a small serving, as expected of tapas portions. So if you a robust grown man with an appetite and not a tiny asian girl like myself- you WILL HAVE TO ORDER additional dishes to satisfy your hunger.


***We also had $5 large sake. I am no sake connoisseur, but it was a bit watered down  according to SW. Really though what do you expect from a $5 sake special? You get what you pay for.

Ebi Mayo – $6.50

From my good friend GM‘s suggestion, as she claims it as one of the best Ebi Mayo (as she is also Ebi Mayo queen). To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of ebi mayo, since it is quite a simple dish (deep fried shrimps in tempura batter, drizzled in spicy mayo). It was a little bit more on the spicy side. The batter was fairly lighter than other places that I have tried their Ebi Mayo but then again, it didn’t really bring anything to the table that impressed me; however, when they presented it to the table, I was really impressed with how they decorated the plate, as it make the dish that more appealing to eat.

They were also plentiful with the amount of shrimps. Unless you are like my friend, GM, I would definitely recommend that you share it with someone as it does seems too heavy to eat on your own.


Agedashi Tofu – $4.80

Of course, I had to try my fave, and that would be my good friend called Agedashi Tofu. My experience was quite different from other places I have eaten Agedashi Tofu. For one, they included tempura fried pieces of eggplant and green beans. They were a nice complement to the dish but I was more focused and concerned on the main star of the show, the tofu.

There were two big pieces and I thought that the tofu they used were a bit too firm for my liking. As I have said before, I do like my tofu smaller in size, and softer in texture, and with a light crunchy yet gooey batter. The one they serve at Koi was a bit too crunchy.

Overall, with the combination of all 3 elements, it seemed more of a tempura dish soaked in sauce. It wasn’t a spectacular dish but it wasn’t a bad dish either. It’s just something I wouldn’t order again next time I come because there wasn’t a taste I would like to re-experience again.


Koi Extreme Roll – $8.95

The Koi Extreme roll is one of their house specialties. I could understand why. On the inside is Shrimp tempura, avocado and on the top it is layered wth fried onions, mayo, teriyaki sauce, roe, and sesame seeds. The onions really gave the sushi a nice kick. I was afraid it would be too overwhelming but it was just the right amount to give the rolls a very pleasant onion flavour.

This was an absolute unique dish that I have yet to see anywhere else so I do recommend you try it. It is quite different from ordering the typical “Dragon”s rolls at other restaurants in which they  layer the rolls with unagi/slices of avocado. Also, the size of sushi was just the right amount for someone to be quite satisfied. I could barely finish it!


  • Intimate setting.
  • Exceptional service (Attentive servers- possibly because there were very few people in the restaurant Wednesday night??).
  • Good selection of food and drinks.


  • Little seating.
  • Prices pretty much the same as eating at hapa or guu downtown, granted it is a dollar or two more expensive when compared to guu on some dishes like the takoyaki for example.
  • Hidden, but i don’t think it’d really stop you from going if you were a fan of their food.

Will I be revisit?:

Most likely if I am ever nearby or in the company of GM. When I do, I think I will give the korean stone bowl a try or some of their specialty rolls!

Overall: 8/10

– g and s.

Koi Japanese Tapas bar on Urbanspoon


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