With more swank venues closing than opening in Bangkok lately, the trendy see-and-be-seen set has been starved for quality exposure-and sustenance. This void was filled in September by Koi, an atmospheric 200-seat restaurant and separate lounge housed in two adjoining wood and glass structures fronted by a large Zen-inspired garden. Touting modern Japanese cuisine with a California twist, the first Koi debuted in Los Angeles three years ago and a New York branch launched last March.
Koi's Bangkok incarnation replicates its American counterparts from the black banquettes and votive candle holders down to the dark wooden floors. The menu too is identical, though Chef Nickolas Bovine-one of the original LA crew-adjusts sweetness and spice levels to the Thai palate. Even those who ordinarily loathe goopy tempuras will enjoy the creamy rock shrimp, a local favorite. The Koi triumvirate shun monikers like "fusion" or "East-West", yet how else to describe seared tuna sashimi jalapeno & garlic chips?
Using mainly imported ingredients keeps food prices high, but the dining room buzzes even midweek. A policy of providing free drinks and snacks to bona fide fashion models ensures a quorum of beautiful bodies voguing under the dim red chandeliers in the 120-seat bar.(26 Sukhumvit Road, Soi 20, 66-22/653-4990).
© 2005/2006 Jennifer Gampell