There is a lovely little gem of a Japanese restaurant across the street from Bryant Park -- Koi. It's on 40th street between 5th & 6th avenues, and I rarely go because I don't usually head south of 42nd street for lunch. It somehow seems a little bit out of my neighborhood. But today I was invited there as a guest, and now I wonder why I don't eat at Koi every chance I get.
It's not just a sushi restaurant -- there are a variety of fabulous japanese dishes, including sushi and sashimi. Today we shared a seared cod that melted in your mouth, and some kobe-beef pot stickers. Oh, yeah, they were good. But the special tuna roll was to die for -- it was described by our waitress as an inside out spicy tuna role with crispy tempura, with a slice of tuna and a dollop of wasabi mayonnaise on top. Sounds relatively simple, right? The crispy tempura gave this really great crunch to it, and the wasabi mayonnaise was creamy and added the right hint of spiciness. All I can say is WOW.
Desserts were a little pedestrian -- variations on chocolate lava cake and creme brulee, but there are a couple of japanese-inspired desserts that are fun. I tried one that was a passionfruit ice cream wrapped in a rice ball. The outside was like a gelee, and it was colorful and full of flavor and a lovely contrast to the cold ice cream inside.
The service there is always great, and today it was even better because it was a relatively light day. I guess everyone else was leaving town while I was eating out!
(Kate, I know you're a sushi fan, so this is definitely on our list of places to go together!)