Koji is a Japanese restaurant in Parsons Green that opened in 2015, taking over from a long established Chinese restaurant called Mao Tai. Koji’s head chef is Rolando Ongcoy, who was previously senior sous chef at Nobu in Park Lane for six years, and was head chef of Uni in Belgravia. He was also head sushi chef of Buddha Bar London, but I won't hold that against him.
Although notionally a sushi restaurant there is also a robata grill, so the menu offers dishes such as duck wasabi and gyoza dumplings in addition to nigiri and maki rolls, though “squid pasta” seems to me to be stretching things a bit. The “tapas” or small plates idea so beloved of restaurateurs means that the bill can quickly mount up, with a scallop “snack” at £18 and Iberico pork loin at £32.
The wine list ranged in price from £28.50 to £275 with labels such as Dewaldt Heyns Sauvignon Blanc 2014 at £37 for a bottle that can be found in the high street for £9. Riesling ‘Terrassen’ Tegernseerhof at £58 compared to a shop price of £14 and Chateau Marsyas Rouge 2009 at £85 for a wine that retails at £32. Mark-ups are no kinder as you move up the list - Corton Pougets Grand Cru Domaine de Montille 2006 was a hefty £262 for a bottle whose current market price was £88. Beer was a chunky £6 for a bottle of Sapporo.
The sushi counter was run by a pleasant gentleman from Bulgaria, who had worked with Mr Ongcoy at Umi. Fish was supplied by a mix of Atari-ya and Sun Ocean. Tuna sushi at least featured room temperature rice (a disturbing number of London sushi chefs seem to think that the rice should come straight from the fridge, as against exactly zero sushi chefs in Japan). The akami tuna itself was decent though after Tokyo I find sushi in London ordinary at best. The scallop sushi was a touch better, the shellfish having at least a hint of sweetness (13/20, just). Pickled ginger was out of a jar and the wasabi was not real either; wasabi root is expensive, but then so is the food here, so it is a pity that they cannot be bothered to source the real thing.
Gyoza dumplings were quite good, the pork and ginger filling of reasonable quality and the dumplings fairly light (13/20). The star dish was wild pink prawn tempura, the shellfish having genuine sweetness, the batter light (14/20). This was better than chicken yakitori, which was decent but unremarkable, the chicken having little flavour (12/20).
Service was attentive and friendly, the bill coming to £82 per person with just beer to drink. The size of the bill is really the issue here: the food is capable enough but if you had dessert and wine then you would easily spend £90 or more per head, and that is hard to justify for this level of food.
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