The Koi is a fish that symbolizes many virtues, including endurance, perseverance and strength, in many Asian cultures. Koi is also the name of Asian inspired fine dining restaurant that opened less than a year ago in a renovated Goan Indo-Portuguese bungalow on the Calangute-Candolim stretch.
Everything, from the beautiful décor featuring the Koi and the enlightened Buddha, to the thoughtfully planned menu is truly Asian in flavour. Koi, jointly run by hospitality professionals, Shefali Gandhi and Aziz Lalani, is inspired by the Silk Route of Asia and their menu includes food from Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, China, Singapore, and India too.
Koi has both a pleasant indoor restaurant as well as a spacious well set out outdoor dining area, where they also have a Teppanyaki Table where can opt to have one’s food cooked right in front of you. This option however needs booking in advance.
As a vegetarian, an Asian restaurant would probably be not my first choice of a place to dine out at simply because most Asian restaurants I’ve seen lean heavily in the favour of non-vegetarian menus. However this is where Koi is a pleasant surprise because they have a separate and dedicated vegetarian menu which features quite a few vegetarian versions of the dishes offered on their non-vegetarian menu.
Shefali picked out a tasting menu for us and the waiter brought us delicious lemongrass flavoured non-alcoholic Mojitos while we waited for the food to arrive. We started with Steamed Dimsum of three kinds that came with accompanying sauces. The first, a Trio of Mushroom Dimsum, were filled with three different types of mushroom, the second was Spinach and Corn Dimsum, and the third was Crystal Dimsum filled with minced vegetable.
The Dinsums were quite well made in almost transparent skins, and though we’re not mushroom lovers by any stretch, it was the Trio of Mushroom Dimsum that was our personal favourite.
Next came some Sushi Rolls, my first experience of it because I’ve never seen a vegetarian Sushi. We were served Classic Sushi Rolls – Veg Tempura Rolls and Shiitake California Roll with Soy Dipping Sauce, some Pickled Ginger and Wasabi. They were both good but we liked the Tempura Sushi Rolls a little bit better because of the crunch.
This was followed by the Koi Vegetarian Khowsuey, a Burmese classic delicately spiced coconut milk soup. Typically, it is served with a variety of different and contrasting condiments/toppings that give this soup a most interesting flavour.
The condiments/ toppings included fried garlic, fried crisp onions, roasted peanuts, chopped spring onions, fried noodles, red chilli flakes, fried basil, crisp potato sticks, crisp Pad Thai noodles, chopped green chillies, crisp spinach, chopped coriander, lime wedges and steamed rice While these condiments/ toppings at Koi might not be strictly traditional, they made for an interesting Khowsuey.
The next couple of dishes were in contrast to the smoothness of the Khowsuey and full of crunch. We were served some really crunchy Crackling Spinach and crispy Honey Chilli Lotus Stem. Though both are mainstays on menus of Chinese/ Asian restaurants in India, Koi’s versions of them were pretty good.
What I liked in particular about the Cracking Spinach was that rather than cutting the spinach into ribbons, it had been torn into larger pieces giving the dish a rustic look and better texture.
Next on our tasting menu were Garlic Soy Greens which was a mix of green vegetables like Pak Choi, broccoli, green beans, zucchini, etc cooked together and topped with browned garlic. This was followed by the Koi Soya Krapow, the vegetarian version of this well-known Basil flavoured Thai dish. These were our least favourite dishes on the menu, and I must confess that it could be a personal thing. We’re not particular fans of stir-fried greens and Koi uses soya protein to replace the meat in this Krapow dish which I didn’t particularly enjoy because we don’t like soya protein in my home.
For mains, we had the Green Vegetarian Thai Curry (a selection of vegetables in a creamy and slightly spicy coconut milk gravy) with steamed rice and it didn’t disappoint.
The perfect end to most meals is dessert but by this time we were full and didn’t have much space left for it. So I didn’t get to experience the desserts on their vegetarian menu. We were however persuaded to have a taste of the Koi’s version of the Coconut and Cinnamon Crème Caramel. The flavours were good but to me, it was a bit on the denser side and not quite as creamy in texture as I’d expect from a Crème Caramel. To be fair, I was told that the denser texture was to be expected as it is typical of Koi’s version of this dessert.
As a vegetarian in particular or otherwise, if you’re looking for an Asian inspired fine dining experience, then the restaurant at Koi is open from 12pm to 12am, throughout the year.
Address: Fort Aguada Road, (behind Snip Salon Spa), Gauravaddo, Calan
gute, Goa 403515.
Please note: The information in this post was current at the time of writing it, and may have changed since.
Disclaimer: This review was done on an invitation from Koi. Due judgement has been applied and I have done my best to remain objective and unbiased while writing this review. This review is my personal opinion so please exercise your own discretion.