It’s rare that I uncover a real gem, a place so good that I’m still thinking about the delicious food days later…Well, that’s how Mr Silver and I felt about the wonderful Koji, a Japanese restaurant in Parsons Green.
Before I even get to the food, I have to start with the amazing cocktails…I chose a Porn Star martini, a delicious blend of passion fruit, vanilla sugar and vodka with a shot of champagne on the side. It was heavenly, with the sweet fruit in the coupe being undercut with the dry champagne. I could literally drink this all day, but that might not end well…
Mr S went for something a bit stronger, the Japanese cocktail made from H by Hine Cognac and Angostura Bitters, had a story behind it; despite the name, there’s actually nothing Japanese about it. In 1862 Jerry Thomas published the first book on American mixology and this was the first cocktail on record to bear an artistic rather than functional name, one that actually has nothing to do with the ingredients it includes.
Despite being a local place in village-like Parsons Green, Koji oozes glamour with stylish vintage mirrors, cool concrete walls, an open sushi kitchen and funky art adorning the walls. We were there for a quiet lunch service on the Easter bank holiday weekend but during the evenings the cocktail bar at the front of the restaurant is packed with people and there’s a live DJ to keep the buzz going.
Koji was born of a partnership between Mark Barnett, restauranteur and former chef, and Nobuhisha Takahusi, a former Nobu head chef. The menu is mostly Japanese but there are some South American influences and a few hints of European flavour too, so there is a diverse range of options from sushi, to ceviche, gyoza to tempura.
We like to start off quite light when embarking on a big sushi feast and picked a delicious tuna sashimi with green salsa to begin. I loved the green salsa which served to enhance the delicate flavours of the raw tuna rather than over power them.
Salmon tataki with spicy yuzu sauce was our next dish and I loved the slight piquant sauce that dressed the salmon slices. With accompaniments of raw onion and chips of garlic, I was worried this would leave a nasty taste in my mouth but the flavours and ingredients combined so perfectly that this wasn’t an issue at all.
Little salmon tacos with a sprinkling of caviar were the perfect bite sized nibble to round off our selection of raw starters.
Summer rolls with soft shell crab and yuzu dressing had a more Vietnamese vibe and these were our favourite things of the day. The crab was crisp and crunchy and paired with the light salad and zesty dressing there was no heavy stodgy feeling from the batter.
Time for another cocktail? I chose a classic Bellini and Mr Silver loved his choice of the lemongrass and chilli Martini.
The Asian flavours of the cocktail were the perfect match for the food and we really liked the good hit of chilli running through the drink.
Admittedly, the spicy tuna maki wasn’t the best I’ve ever had. The rolls were perfectly formed with just the right amount of rice, but I would have preferred a stronger hit of spice.
Next up were the prawn and garlic gyoza, the Japanese version of the Chinese potsticker. These were another favourite of ours, perfectly prepared with a fine wrapper, just crispy on the outside with a juicy filling of seafood. There’s also a chicken or a pork option but the waitress informed us that the prawn was the best choice.
Perfectly cooked lamb cutlets marinated in miso were our choice for a meaty main course.
While a light sea bass with a spicy salsa was our delicious fish course. I love Asian seafood dishes and the flesh flaked apart so beautifully on this dish, it was an absolute winner for me.
Grilled miso aubergine is one of my favourite Japanese vegetable dishes but I’ve often tasted bad versions, but this wasn’t the case at Koji. The flesh was cooked perfectly with just about the right amount of sweetness from the miso and we also enjoyed a good grilled asparagus in a green sauce on the side.
And obviously a few more cocktails to go with our dessert…I did tell you the cocktails were good. This time I sampled a lychee martini while Mr S chose a flight of sake.
Each tumbler of sake had a slightly different flavour with the intention of pairing them with a different course. I must admit that I’m not a big sake lover as I find it to strong but I’m sure I’ll acquire more of a taste for it when we’re in Japan in six weeks time.
We also sampled an espresso martini which was the ideal pairing with dessert. As we looked at the menu two desserts really stuck out to us, the waitress warned us that it might be a lot of chocolate but we were ok with that…plus it was Easter so it’s practically the law to eat ALL the chocolate.
And I mean how could you choose between yuzu kosho and bounty lollipops, which were basically the most tasty chocolate truffles on sticks, and these delicious mounds of chocolate balanced on a biscuit base and served with a helping of vanilla ice cream? You just can’t, you have to have both…
Mr Silver and I absolutely loved Koji, we left with big smiles on our faces and dreamt about Porn Star Martinis, soft shell crab summer rolls and bounty lollipops for the next couple of days. Though it’s a neighbourhood restaurant, Koji is definitely somewhere worth going out of your way for.
PIN FOR LATER:
58 New Kings Road
0207 731 2520
I was invited to review but my thoughts are independent and cannot be bought for all the Porn Star Martinis in the world