Koi Japanese Cuisine – Hot Lunch

217 West State St. • 387-5678 • Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, Discover

Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Friday through Saturday, 11 a.m. – 12 a.m.

Sunday, 12 p.m. – 10 p.m.

I first ate sushi at a Korean barbecue joint near the campus of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. I was in college at the time, this being a few years back, and sushi was still regarded with some suspicion by the average eater. We were grateful for the mixture of the affordable and the exotic as they served workman-like sushi, stripped of pretense and marked down for the collegiate budget.

Koi near LSU seems to have a similar idea. Unfortunately there is no banchan on the menu, but then, my love of Korean food is generally unrequited here in Baton Rouge. Koi has turned a former chain sandwich shop into a charming and intimate approximation of the sort of Japanese sushi bar you might find nestled in a storefront on St. Mark’s Place in New York City.

I had, among other things, the negihama roll ($4.25) and an order of steamed pork gyoza dumplings ($3.50). Negihama rolls and gyoza dumplings are the benchmarks by which I judge Japanese restaurants. They are simple dishes that require only attention and quality ingredients. Koi does a fine job with both. The yellow tail in the roll was moist and fresh, and the green onion gave that little hint of pungency. The dipping sauce could have been tweaked a bit, but when the dumplings tasted like those at my cousin’s house in Beijing, why quibble?

For more by Frank McMains, including blogs from his trip to China, click here.