By Christopher A Pape
Running a successful restaurant is tough, especially, here where conquering New York is an almost impossible task. And add to that the enormous pressure it must be to live up to the Trump name and you have a combination that appears excruciatingly daunting. But as the saying goes – high risk, high reward.
Koi, in the Bryant Park Hotel, which was recently reviewed in a previous edition, is a restaurant that has overcome many obstacles with aplomb and is a truly successful brand. With locations around the world, they have become known for their wildly delicious creations and hip interiors. So it is no surprise to find that they have recently tried their hand at Soho Trump with a newer, sleeker and more intimate space. Just recently, I was there with a good friend and from start to finish we were enthralled.
The space, maybe a quarter of the size of its sister New York location, is setup in a way to maximize private conversation. My guest and I found ourselves in at a small circular table with a banquet. It was an interesting concept that encouraged close conversation.
With so many intriguing options it was difficult to choose. Here’s a hint: order a dish from each of the categories - soups, salads, Koi signature dishes, hot dishes, tempura, Koi rolls and sushi - you won’t go wrong. We really loved the Koi crispy rice with Yellowtail. As the name suggests, the rice is crispy and chewy, while the fish was succulent and fresh. We also loved the creamy rock shrimp tempura bathed in a spicy mayo. Each bite was joy in our mouths and the flavors and texture worked perfectly together.
As for their rolls, while not as traditional as you might find in a high-end Japanese eatery, they are nonetheless delicious. Their signature creation, the Koi Dragon roll was opulence on a plate. Served with shrimp tempura, eel and baked crab, it was everything that I like in one dish. The crunch from the tempura was paired well with the silkiness of the baked crab. And the eel provide the right amount of brininess that was needed. The baked lobster roll is also worthy of praise and was hearty, smooth and delectable.
For their larger dishes, we had the Miso bronzed black cod. Served with a medley of vegetables, it had that umami flavor that is so prized by the Japanese. The fish itself was tender and moist and the slightly blanched vegetables gave nice contrast to the dish.
If you’re looking for the all the qualities that made Koi, Bryant Park great, but in a more intimate and romantic setting, than look no further than Koi at Soho Trump. From the crispy rice to the black cod and everything in between you will appreciate the fine technique and mouthwatering taste. •
246 Spring St.