Owner Bing Zhou sums up the special qualities of his restaurant in the following way: "We've got downtown Chicago energy with suburban Evanston ambiance." Koi offers high-class, big-city dining options in an upscale setting both classic and creative. A large front window floods the restaurant with light, highlighting the simple dark wood and crisp, white linen of each table. The lounge area provides an intimate setting for quiet chats and leisurely conversation surrounded by bamboo green walls flanked by a stone fireplace and dotted with low bench and cube seating that feels funky and tres chic. The full bar offers plenty of room, and the sushi bar serves up fresh and inventive fare.
The menu here has something for everyone: Chinese specialties like black mushroom duck and Szechwan style red snapper should not be missed. The sushi bar offers maki, sashimi and nigiri sushi, and daily fresh vegetables and market finds means weekly specials that change with the season: Kobe steak with teriyaki, lobster maki and eggplant maki to name a few. As if that wasn’t enough, Koi also offers delicious salads and soups, as well as traditional rice and noodles faves like fried rice, chow fun and lo mein.
Be sure to complete your meal with one of the many sakes (ranging from $4.50 to $58 per bottle), or take advantage of the specialty martinis, domestic and foreign beers and extensive list of wines. Entrees range from $2.95 for certain maki to $28.95, and the menu includes low-fat options and multiple levels of spicy and sweet.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Genevra Gallo