Supper Club at Koi - The Collection, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi
Koi is an elegant and sophisticated venue with great attention to detail and staff to match. It boasts a superb a la carte menu and indeed one of my favourite brunches. However, a Thursday night is an altogether different proposition. The end of the week creates a sense of expectation as the weekend starts. The usual perfectly sedate and cultured atmosphere that usually greets one at Koi needs to make way for something else tonight. Walking in to Koi on a recent Thursday evening had me doing a second take. At 21h30 the music was already bumping and soon after me being seated, a steady throng of guests who had made reservations for Koi's Supper Club, soon ensured the bar and lounge areas were packed. There were a few things to emerge from my evening.
Dubai comes to Abu Dhabi
I felt Dubai. Yes, Abu Dhabi has many virtues, but let's face it, when it comes to nightlife, Dubai is the trendsetter. I could not help feeling the intensity of Thursday night in Dubai. And this bodes well for Koi. I think people do not want to have to go to Dubai every Thursday for a night out that is finely balanced between a space rich in ambience, elegance and service that is not obsequious in the least. The music was loud, but I felt it worked, because the lounge and bar were full.
the timing suggests you would have had dinner before coming. Recommended. In the same ay that you would not go to a bar for drinks and a full meal, the concept here is Japanese tapas, albeit unlimited from a set menu. I liked the appetisers, especially the Nori chips. These are not just nori flavoured, but have real nori on them, making for a delightful snack. The California rolls were a real winner among the tapas. The secret is definitely the rice. Yellowtail Ceviche, Steamed Beef Bun in BBQ sauce and Yakitori chicken (more about the latter two later) completed the tapas for the evening.
A sign of things to come?
The evening marked the first time I had the pleasure of meeting Executive Chef Yoshizake; Chef Yoshizake has been with Koi for a few months now. Two of his dishes on the night told me so much about him and what I could expect from Koi on future visits. Two of his tapas, the superb Steamed beef bun & BBQ sauce and his Yakitori chicken skewers stood out in so far as they revealed quite a bit about the chef. His sparing use of sauces in both dishes point to a chef who wants his core ingredients to speak for themselves and not to be overwhelmed by anything else on the plate. Not usually appreciative of Yakitori chicken because of that sweetish sauce, I actually enjoyed his dish tonight. The flavour was subtle and delicate - very Japanese for me. So exciting. Don't get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed the Californication of Japanese cuisine on previous visits, but I am really looking forward to Chef's more traditional interpretation of dishes.
Koi's Supper Club felt very much like something they had been doing for ages. Polished. I was also pleased with the frequency and timing of dishes. In addition, Chef's presence on the floor was refreshing as one does not expect to see the chef in this context of a night out. Reassuring. Mainly, it was the crowd that made this a brilliant evening. I love it when restaurants or classy bar and lounges like these are full. Seeing the private dining room teeming with people was another great sight.
Overall, it is concept that works because it is not just about free flowing alcohol. There is a touch of class in an evening when you see an Executive chef walking around, checking on his dishes. After all, why can't an evening be about it all: good food, drink and music?
Within the St Regis Island Resort, Abu Dhabi
195AED per person +6% tourism fee
A choice of 4 wines