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[June 26, 2013]
Koi Fusion: fresh, flavorful Asian food served fast
Jun 27, 2013 (The Wichita Eagle - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Wichita has lots of restaurants that specialize in Asian food made fast and ready to go.
Some serve Chinese (Great Wall). Some serve Japanese (Emperor's Japanese Grill). Some serve Thai (Thai House).
Koi Fusion, a new restaurant near 37th North and Woodlawn, aims to fuse several Asian cuisines into one menu.
In mid-April, husband and wife Dave Wan and Nasy Chan opened the restaurant at 6605 E. 37th St. North. It's an order-at-the-counter, super-fast-service, inexpensive place that specializes in Thai, Japanese and Vietnamese dishes.
It's in the spot that formerly held Samurai, a fast-hibachi restaurant, and hibachi is still on the menu. But there's much more now.
ON THE MENU: Diners at Koi Fusion can choose from the most familiar dishes from various Asian cuisines. Thai options include pad Thai, crispy basil, Tom Yum soup and curry dishes. There are also several varieties of Vietnamese pho noodle soup, and Japanese food fans can get teriyaki, yakisoba, udon noodles or a hibachi meal, where they can choose which meat and sauce they want.
DON'T-MISS DISHES: We ordered a whole lot of food and paid only $40 -- a deal considering that the dishes were all fresh and flavorful (and arrived at our table in less than five minutes).
Our favorite was a clay pot dish ($6.49) the girl at the counter talked us into at the last minute. We ordered it with shrimp (an extra $1.50), and it was served steaming hot in a beautiful, decorated clay dish that the server opened at our table. Inside were shrimp mixed in with giant slices of mushrooms and onions that were cooked just long enough that they were tender but still bit back. It was all served on a bed of white rice and topped with a subtle sauce. The only complaint about the dish was that the shrimp themselves were tiny and a little bland -- true of all the shrimp we sampled at Koi Fusion. We'd probably just stick with chicken or steak next time and save the $1.50.
The curry bowl ($5.49) also was delicious, particularly the orange-colored sauce that pooled on the bottom of the dish. Once we surfaced the sauce, it nicely coated the pounded-flat chicken pieces, large slices of onion and green pepper and slightly crispy potato cubes that were sitting on top of a bed of white rice.
We didn't love the hibachi meal ($7.49) we ordered. We chose steak as our protein and opted for teriyaki sauce over the other two choices -- peppercorn or lemongrass. The sauce had a strange flavor, but it wasn't teriyaki, and the thin beef strips were too chewy. But the sliced zucchini and onion in the dish were nice, and we'd try it again, maybe with the lemongrass sauce and chicken or tofu. The ginger garlic shrimp ($8.99) wasn't impressive either. We couldn't detect garlic or ginger, or much sauce at all. And we still weren't crazy about those tiny shrimp.
But we loved the gyoza ($2.95) from the appetizer menu. The serving consisted of four crunchy fried, gingery dumplings, and we could have eaten four more. The spring rolls also were good but were deep fried and tiny, so more than one order might be a good idea.
AMBIANCE: The dining room is large, bright and clean with a tile floor and a mixture of tables and chairs and booths.
The night we were there was a hot one, and the air conditioner wasn't quite keeping up. Though it's a fast-dining place, those who eat in do so from nice dishes -- clay pots, stylish white bowls, etc. Too many carryout-style places serve their food in Styrofoam with plastic forks, so the dishes are a nice upgrade.
PRICE RANGE: Reasonable. Entrees average about $7.
SERVICE: We ordered at the counter from a friendly server who had answers to all our questions. The person who brought our food also was friendly and eager to please.
Ratings reflect the critic's judgment of the food, service and atmosphere in relation to the price. If you would like to nominate a restaurant to be reviewed, call 316-268-6327.
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