Two Koi Japanese Cuisine
1552 Commerce Street – Suite 100
As you have noticed already, a lot of times, when I go on business trips, I end up going to a sushi restaurant in a sort of personal quest: that of find whether that claim that Vancouver’s sushi offerings in general are THAT good. In a way, it was disproved when I went to Shiro’s in Seattle, as it was really good (compared to the mid-range offerings in Vancouver). So, on my trip to Tacoma, I did something similar: I went to Two Koi, such restaurant type near the hotel I was staying, for yet another comparison…
When I arrived on a weekday, there was something quite… Interesting. Despite it was middle of the week, there was a lot of customers (about a half or so dozen tables, plus some customers at the sushi bar). Not bad considering school was out (given it is nearby the University of Washington). Since I was myself, I had different options as to where to seat. Unfortunately, since pretty much all the tables next to the windows were taken, I chose then to sit at the bar as a result.
Before I continue, I will make a wild guess: given the full name of the head chef – Jackie Young Koh – I will make the assumption he is not necessarily Japanese born, which brings the usual question: Can non-Japanese do justice to their food? And talking about food, my usual problem: What to order? Not wanting to think too much, I chose the easy way out by ordering their Supreme Bento, which starts off with…
A green salad. While it should be quite simple, it didn’t work too well for me. For some reason, there was a bitterness in it. I kept wondering for a while if it is due to the dressing used or something else but, as a result of that particular bitterness, I chose not to finish it.
Miso soup. The interesting note was that they apologized it was taking a while as they were making a new batch. Furthermore, while not that noticeable, they had some fried tofu strips rather than chunks of tofu. I will admit it was quite different from the ones I have had previously in the sense it didn’t feel extremely salty. In the end, it partially balanced out with the partial fail of the salad.
Chef’s choice of sushi (4pcs). The construction was OK; however, that was about it. There wasn’t too much vinegar I could taste so, from that perspective, it wasn’t that good. At least the texture of the rice wasn’t that bad, i.e., it wasn’t hard or dry. So, compared to Vancouver’s offerings, I would say it barely makes par.
Chef’s choice of sashimi (3kinds). I will have to call this being a misnomer. I mean, there were three slices from the same type. The texture was actually OK (i.e., not frozen); however, as you can see in the second picture, the knife work was a bit strange. I mean, I do understand the chance the meat would “tear” near the connecting sections; however, in this case… Well, it seemed a bit jagged. I couldn’t help wonder what happened, as, while I was waiting for my dinner, I saw some interesting knife-work (like “peeling” a cucumber around its axis). So, how does it compare to Vancouver’s offerings? Well, past that knife-work issue aside, the slices of fish was decent.
Two “appetizers”, sunomono and seaweed. The sunomono had the same issue as the garden salad: it had a bitter taste in it. At that point, I was starting to think there was something “wrong” with the vinegar… >_< The seaweed, though, was quite good as it was crunchy and had an interesting sesame hint.
Yup, that’s not all! Here, prawn tempura + vegetable tempura. For the most part, they were still crunchy, which was good but fell itself a bit short because they weren’t piping hot. For this one, I won’t blame them, as it took me a while to get to that part. The odd ball, though, was the onion ring. I just wasn’t expecting a piece of onion…
Yup, still more! Here, fried mackerel. Unlike the tempura, this one was a bit odd. It was crispy, OK; however, there was something odd in the fish itself. There was some of the expected fishiness but the texture of the cooked morsel was on the lines of overcooked. I guess some people like it this way.
Finally, salmon teriyaki (I had the option of chicken, beef, salmon or tofu). The doneness was similar to that of the mackerel, i.e., slightly overcooked but, again, I think it is a preference issue. As for the teriyaki sauce, well, it surprised me a little bit as it wasn’t that extremely sweet or salty. However, still it was the western version of teriyaki, i.e., cooked meat plus some form of sweet sauce on top. But, still, it was a decent piece so I won’t complain much about it.
If I were to add everything, I will have to say it wasn’t that bad, though that might be influenced by the amount of the food, not necessarily by how good it was. As a whole package, for $31, I will have to say it is barely average if I were to compare it with Vancouver. But, it is not Vancouver and, if I were to compare it to Shiro’s, it will be way below. But, then again, it is not Seattle either (unless you want to drive ~30 minutes) so that goes back to where it is: Tacoma. And, since you only have that many options… I guess you can help to like it. As for me, I personally would drive to Seattle but that’s me.