Last May when Erin's sister Liz graduated from college, Erin told her that we would take her out for a celebratory dinner. Last Friday we finally got around to going out and decided on Koyi in the warehouse district.
After paying $4 for parking (and thinking it was $8, which was a pleasant surprise) we walked over to Koyi through the construction on 2nd Ave. N. We speculated that the construction is to extend the light rail over to the new Twins stadium. It seems like it has been going on forever. We had tried to get a reservation but were assured that we didn't need one at 7:30 on a Friday night and they were correct. We got seated right away and got some drinks while we waited for Liz and Jono to arrive.
The decor in Koyi is typical of a sushi restaurant, I think. There was a sushi bar with some tables that extend towards the back of the room, which isn't very wide, but pretty deep. As they were seating us the server was turning on some fake lit plants (cactus?) in the front window. Ah, mood lighting :)
I don't think there were any tap beers so I went with a bottle of Summit. I feel like most Japanese places we go to don't have tap beers, which I don't understand. In any case, they have some bottled beers and a full bar as well, so plenty of choices to wet your whistle. Jono got the "Japanese iced tea" which has ingredients that are suspiciously (exactly) like a Long Island Iced Tea, I would have expected some saki, but it tasted good regardless.
Erin managed the ordering of rolls with input from Liz and Jono. I don't usually participate in these things when we're getting sushi as I trust Erin's choices and I always get plenty to eat. I believe we ordered four rolls, all of which were great. I'll let Erin get into the details of what exactly we got, but rest assured they were good. I was pissed because I forgot to order a side of white rice, so maybe the next sushi place we go to I'll get two sides :)
We ate the food fast because it was getting to be a late dinner and we were hungry. The server was attentive and brought the check quickly and then kind of hovered while I got my credit card out, I think she may have been done for the night and wanted to get us closed out. All in all a good experience.
- Service: The service was good, she stopped by frequently to check on the food and refill waters.
- Food: The sushi and the cream cheese puffs were all good.
- Drinks: Bottled beer and a full bar.
- Ambiance: Again, the fake lit plants were funny, but I liked the place as a whole. Not loud, easy to have a conversation.
- Price: I think the total was right around $100, which I think is reasonable for four people with drinks and tip.
- Convenience: There is a parking lot at 1st Ave and 4th St. that's close, but you still have to drive downtown.
Well, this summer sure has been busy for us, and the easiest way for me to realize that was the simple fact that it took us until September to take my sister and her boyfriend out to celebrate their graduation from college that occurred in May. Oops! Better late than never I guess.
Because Liz doesn't like to make decisions when it comes to restaurants (I sent her 3 choices of places to go back in May and she was paralyzed with that choice and just never responded to the email) I made the executive decision to go to Koyi.
When we got there at 7:30 on a busy Friday night and it was not even close to full, I have to admit, I was a little nervous. Why is this place so empty? We were seated immediately, and despite the weirdness of lighting up plants in the windows, the atmosphere was pretty nice - pleasantly bustling but not overpowering.
I always have a hard time picking my first drink which is usually asked about the second you sit down, so I just ordered the ole standby, Miller Lite. When the waitress came back again, I had noticed a little sticker somewhere on the menu stating that cream cheese puffs were $3.50 so we got those as well. After battling traffic, Liz and Jono finally arrived. Liz ordered the Sake Margarita, which was okay but nothing great. This place does have some inventive drinks which is kind of cool. I also had a Tokyo Rose - I can't remember what was in it, but I think it included Peach Schnapps. It reminded me of college. The cream cheese puffs came out quickly and were delicious, as always. I can never resist ordering those at any place I go to.
When I was looking through the list of rolls, I noticed they have quite a few "American" rolls, with cooked chicken and beef. I wonder how many people actually order them - it was interesting to see, but not something I'd ever want at a sushi place. I decided on the Caterpillar, Philly, Spicy Tuna, and Cactus rolls. The Caterpillar and Cactus were on the "large rolls" list and were a little more expensive, but were, as the name implies, larger in diameter, and had more pieces. These were a little difficult to eat in one bite, but we made it work. I thought the quality of the fish here was comparable to other places that I've been and was very reasonably priced.
I enjoyed Koyi a lot and really wonder why it wasn't busier - this is probably because there are a number of much more highly acclaimed sushi restaurants (Nami and Origami) that are right nearby. It is a pretty casual space, so perhaps people coming downtown want the more swanky ambiance of the other two places.
122 North 4th St.
Highly recommended for affordable sushi in a prime warehouse district location