I prefer raw fish with their skins intact, along with their heads and any other body parts that allows them to swim. I don't like dead raw fish, especially when it's being prepared at a high price for my consumption. Judging by the immense popularity of sushi bars in Boise, mine is a minority view. But I'm grateful for the trend, because it reflects a broadening of life in Idaho. And after the mid-term elections, I say give me more dead raw fish restaurants. In fact, give me anything that allows me to get my mind off those bloated caricatures of our collective lassitude and myopia that we just elected. Koi is just such a haven from reality.
There is a tense serenity to Koi's remarkable interior that reminds me of the multicultural works of Isamu Noguchi and George Nakashima. The meditative Far Eastern surroundings are offset by illuminated walls behind Koi's two bars, which glow with the whorish allure of a scene staged by Brian De Palma. The food follows suit.
I began dinner over an appealing dish called Nikumaki, which is asparagus wrapped in ribeye steak. The asparagus is pan-seared, and the ribeye thinly sliced and finished with teriyaki sauce. The beef was tender, and asparagus stalks were well-selected and thin preventing me from having to masticate the appetizer like a cow. Maybe it goes without saying, but you never want to masticate like a cow, especially in a nice restaurant. After that success, I ordered a spicy jalapeno and rock shrimp tempura roll. I'm normally scared off by tempura preparations because it seems like you could hide Godzilla. But Koi's batter is light, and the tempura shrimp played nicely alongside the sliced jalapeno peppers. I had no idea there was such a thing as dessert sushi, so for the finale, I decided to try the chunky monkey roll. Chunky, indeed. This is what Akebono must have lived off of to achieve the rank of Yokozuna. The dish included both green tea and red bean flavors of ice cream, and a few almond-crusted banana egg rolls that were fried, as best I could ascertain. After greedily eating the entire delicious ensemble, the plate looked like a vandalized work by Jackson Pollock.
I avoided the dead raw fish, but for those who enjoy consuming dead raw fish, Koi is in no short supply. You can eat dead raw fish in rolls (maki), on rice (nigiri), "battleship" style, or like the dolphins at Sea World (sashimi). Yum. I may try some yet.
--Waj Nasser never swallowed goldfish in college, and masticated only as a last resort.