Koi: If I Could Turn Back Toro
“THE gates of the ancient Greek underworld were patrolled by a pooch with multiple snouts and a mean streak. The gates of Koi are patrolled by a man with a single clipboard and an aloof mien... He wants the diners who breach this sanctum to believe that they have made a heroically privileged passage.”
Or, since a picture is worth a thousand elaborately trellised metaphors:
And then there’s power-starved, scenestery maitre d' Cerberus.
And never the twain shall meet, unless a certain two-headed pitbull has a hankering for a clipboard bismark and a Mont Blanc in its rectum.
But through the Count’s smokescreen of erudition and antiquity, it cannot escape you that this review opens with a blatant comparison of Koi to Hell, and basically goes south from there.
Is that a surprise? Personally, being the kind of person that likes to sit in my pioneer-era hovel, wearing a hemp poncho and playing paddy-cake with dust bunnies, the mere idea of this restaurant scares the flaming shit out of me.
My "Going Out Outfit"
But in terms of the food, was there any question that it wouldn’t suck? Like Confucius said, “You don’t fucking go to Sephora for the chicken paillard, do you”? All you ever hear about in relation to this restaurant, more so than other flashy Asian fusion places like En Japanese Brasserie et al, is the celebrity conga line that seems to shimmy non-stop through the New York Koi, and through its equally hookery twin in L.A.
“They're gonna comp us, right?"
"I think I just pooped on your paw."
So, (stop the press!) Frank concludes that at Koi, “attitude reigns”: “Like an aged pop star on the latest of several proclaimed farewell tours, Koi ultimately relies on pose more than performance.”
Like Cher. Just say “like Cher.” You did it to Faye Dunaway, let’s not get coy.
"If you belieeeeve in life after retiring after retiring after retiring"
And, Frank may enjoy the analogy of the bloated grande dame, but there's no one menu item that more reliably sends him into verbal fireworks than Kobe beef:
"An entrée of what the menu advertised as Kobe-style beef had the dusky color, dreary texture and quotidian flavor of reheated pot roast. …if its provenance was indeed some preserve of specially pampered cattle, I predict a bovine class action suit in the offing. Those cows should be growing much fatter, happier and more flavorful than this.”
Cows are FURIOUS at not being tender and flavorful. Just outraged.
This, however, is fine with them:
Satisfactory, in the sense that it is a terrible, terrible nightmare.
40 West 40th Street, in the Bryant Park Hotel; (212) 921-3330.
ATMOSPHERE: Excellent. “Koi made me feel like an insect, and I say that with gratitude...”
A.k.a, Koi relieves you of this burden:
SOUND LEVEL: Like having a Boeing inside your cochlea.
RECOMMENDED DISHES: Kobe carrion. Stanky seafood. There were “a couple of instances of seafood that tasted like it had been carelessly stored” and “Slices of chu-toro sashimi were gray around the edges and shockingly fishy.”
Hey didja hear the one about the blind gynocologist who walks by Koi? “EVENIN’ LADIES!!!” I’m sorry. I’ll delete that in about 10 minutes.
WINE LIST : Wine? I would probably need at least 30 CC’s of liquid Judy straight in the jugular to make it through this place.
PRICE RANGE : Irrelevant. You will wish that instead of having to have food put in front of you, that you were billy-clubbed by a ne’er do well and your money lifted off your cold dead body:
“An entrée of ginger-glazed Alaskan king crab legs consisted of stringy flesh under a cloying varnish. It tasted like a canned seafood candy bar, so odd and unappealing that the friend who ordered it justifiably said she wouldn't have felt any more dispirited if a server had mugged her for the $27 that the dish cost.”
Canned seafood candy bar? I just threw up a little. You owe me some Tagamet, Frank.