As a food critique with above average taste palate, my first response (almost as a reflex) when i taste a fresh sushi or a well done steak or a beautifully seasoned Basa is a GASP!
The Gasp is in part – a pleasant surprise at having tasted the scrumptious food – accompanied by a big sigh of relief at having tasted the scrumptious food before it goes to the dogs.
My gasp will be well founded with the ones who have been in Delhi for a while (a decade maybe). All of us have a comfort Chinese cart/van food that we rush to in the hours of distress or hunger. And we also know just how many Pan-Asian restaurants have appeared on the Delhi Grub scene and have vanished without a trace. And even when they exist, they are over-priced and underperforming.
Part of the blame (or a bigger chunk) has to be borne by the patronizingly unpredictable and moody Delhi palate.
Yet, there are excessive numbers of places which promise to serve you Pan-Asian and have the word Kitchen in their name. Right from that high-end, fine dine where you spent big bucks to be surrounded by the big statues or the free home delivery kiosk in your neighbourhood market plaza; they all are a kitchen of this and a kitchen of that.
At KOA, my first thoughts as I put that first piece of sushi in my mouth was not yummy, or Wow that’s good or what did I just taste. Rather it was an instant plea(imagine me on my knees, begging) to the gods of taste and food and all things nice to please…please, just please save this restaurant and not let it go bad.
Believe you me when i tell you, with a pinch of over dramatic perseverance that i loved this place.
The first thing that strikes you as you enter the KOA is the Japanese minimalism in decor. By minimalistic i do not mean a bunch of tables and chairs huddled together to be called a restaurant. Rather, the restaurant walls are well adorned, complemented by a good seating plan that is easy on the eye. As the purpose is not to overwhelm you or drive your senses to the wall, but to keep them in the platter and at the food on that platter.
I was freshly surprised to see the variety of items on their menu. From the old favourites to new food items like the Shira ae, a tofu paste which originated from the Zen Buddhist Vegetarian cuisine. KOA is boldly pushing the paneer loving, butter chicken fanatics towards healthier (or just smarter) options like Edamame and tofu.
The restaurant conceptualised by Mr. Amit Arora is chic, authentic and up-worldly.
The Sous chef Mr. Vijay lama knows his food and serves a meal which challenges the overworked, overused palate of an average Delhiite. So if you don’t like the crunch of the chilli garlic edamame, or the poteto Suteki then the problem is with you. lol!
Now coming to the food i had that day, I think the pictures speak for themselves. A special mention to the Black Cod Miso which was my fav dish on that day.
The only small disappointment was with the deserts as i think that they need a lot of improvement, especially the Red Velvet Cake.
To break it down in two sentences, it serves everything between the sushi and the Udon noodles, with shira ae thrown in for the traditionalists. And like a true kitchen it serves the food with a beautifully unstructured, personal and affectionate approach