Jan 06, 2020

Koi Aisan Fusion: Two Locations to Choose from for Delicious Asian Eatery

By Lori Draz

Happy new decade, happy New Year and happy Chinese New Year! The year of the rat will blast off with dragons and fireworks on Saturday, Jan. 25. We thought we would kick off the new year with some good fortune (as in cookie) and we headed south to visit Koi. Now to begin, there are two Koi restaurants. The original and more casual is Koi Asian Fusion in Brick. It has been a hotspot for authentic Chinese and has numerous Best Of Readers Poll victories under the belt. Last year, the owner opened a second and much more upscale location down the road in Toms River. This is a grand open space with 15 dramatic hibachi tables and an Asian art gallery and cultural showroom with Chinese terracotta warriors, traditional clothing and artifacts on display. We intended to visit the newer Toms River location, but the Garden State Parkway gifted us with a classic traffic jam, so we exited early and headed to the Brick location. There were no statues there, but the menus of both locations are largely the same (other than the hibachi selections) and equally good.

We began with three appetizers. The Fried Coconut Shrimp were lightly golden and so good we got a second order. The Chicken Lettuce Wrap wears the badge “highly rated app” on the menu, and that was true by us. It was a generous portion of filling and lettuce that made a light and refreshing app. Our third choice was the artfully assembled Jalapeno Pockets, which are peppers stuffed with spicy crab, blue crab, tuna and cream cheese flash fried tempura style. These pretty pockets are quite satisfying and filling, and timid taste buds will be glad to know they’re not really spicy at all.

 

Now for the entrées. Diner one chose Shrimp with Vegetables. The large and tenderly cooked shrimp shared the plate with a colorful blend of broccoli, red and green peppers, snow peas, onions, baby corn, and zucchini in a light brown sauce. She remarked that the food was well-prepared and much to her liking. She got the sense that the chef has a lot of experience.

Diner two chose Pineapple Fried Rice with Chicken. The eye-catching combo comes served in a halved pineapple. Isn’t that fun? It is a big mound of flavorful fried rice, light and fluffy and not overpowered by soy sauce. His chicken was soft and chunky, and he had plenty to take home for lunch. He was extremely happy with his selection, which would also make a nice sharing dish for the table.

Diner three selected the Phoenix Roast Duck which is served with a big mound of fried rice and glistening baby bok choys. It is a half duck, cut into easy-to-handle slices. He said the skin was quite crispy without sacrificing the juiciness of the duck. It’s a dark dish, but the flavors were not overly strong. Our diner rated his dish as just ducky!

I chose the Pad Kea Mow, a Thai dish of wide rice noodles with eggs, chili, garlic, eggplant, onions, scallions, mixed vegetable and basil, which I completely enjoyed. I like Thai food and am happy to report that this dish did not break the thermometer, as some Thai dishes can. The noodles were not stuck together, and the sauce gave the whole dish a lovely sheen.

The dessert menu is actually pretty large, so we picked three, none of which were too sweet. The most curious was the Japanese Maccha Mont Blanc Cake, which looked a little like something pulled from the ocean. The green ribbons tasted more like icing; it’s pretty to look at but missed our mark as a dessert. We also had the Chocolate Trilogy, another beautiful-to-look at treat that was a much better dessert. The graduated layers of chocolate cake and mousse with a cream topping were smooth. Our final selection was the Tempura Ice Cream, with your choice of vanilla, chocolate or green tea ice cream. It’s kind of like a Baked Alaska and was my favorite. That combination of cold ice cream and warm tempura coating was a nice combination of taste, temperature and texture.

Several birthdays were being celebrated, and their fun version of a birthday surprise includes a bullet-shaped audio pod that flashes lights and sings birthday greetings while the recipient wears a Chinese hat – super fun!

If you want a real experience, try the Toms River location. If you want a great meal in a friendly setting, pick Brick. The food at both locations will not disappoint, and neither will the staffs or the chef. There is a large parking lot. BYOB.

 

Cost – low

What we liked – The large menu, complete with lots of pictures; the patient and attentive wait staff; the big portions; the super comfortable chairs; their fun way of celebrating birthdays; and the large parking lot.

What could be better – The lighting could be a little dimmer so you could appreciate their décor more.

We give it 4 and a half Js

Koi Asian Fusion is located at 25 Brick Blvd. in Brick. 732-255-1888. KoiAsianLounge@gmail.com. Koi 1256 Indian Head Rd., Toms River. 732-240-8888. KoiHibachi.com. Both are open Monday through Thursday 11 am to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am to 11 pm and Sunday noon to 10 pm.