It was over a year ago that we visited Koko and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Since it's Phuong's birthday (Happy 2? Birthday Phuong), we decided to go back there again. This is one classic example of how you reassess things when you have more to compare it to. We still enjoyed Koko a lot, but it wasn't the heady memorable experience of that first visit. More on that later.
I thought it would be fun if we recreated that model pose photo from the first time. Last time's photo was a spontaneous photo that Paul happened to capture. Below is last time's photo.
This time, we posed for it, and it just didn't look as good I think. We mucked up the positions and also Phuong's in the photo as well this time.
Previously, we were stuck right in the corner of the restaurant and didn't get to see the main central water feature. Hence, when we booked this time, we asked for a central table. This afforded us a beautiful view of the pond, the city outside, and the teppanyaki tables all around.
Like last time, we again ordered the Koko Chef's Special Sashimi. The sashimi was still good, but wasn't fantastic like last time. Possibly it's because we have more to compare it to like I mentioned earlier, or possibly the mind always remembers things better than they are. I think it's a combination of both. Because despite our overall bad experience at Shoya, the sashimi there was definitely superior to all other sashimi I've tried.
Again, we ordered the Koko Special Sushi. We also got the Volcano Roll, an inside out roll with salmon, asparagus, cucumber and prawns, with a creamy glaze outside it. The nigiri sushi was good, but I think the variety and quality is better at Shira Nui.
What was fantastic was the Spider Roll and Salmon Skin Roll. The spider roll blew our minds last time, and it did it again this time. The soft shell crab with the fish roe, seaweed, sesame seeds and sweet soy glaze is still unbelievably good. The crispy salmon skin rolls were amazing as well. The crispy skin provided a real crunch while the crab meat and avocado provided excellent flavours. I would definitely order these two items again and again.
After the sushi and sashimi, we were ready for our mains to blow us away. Instead we were very underwhelmed. The Scotch Fillet with Spicy Miso Soup was extremely salty. The meat was nice enough, but the sauce was so salty we had to keep shaking it off.
We wanted the Grilled Red Emperor with sea urchin sauce but that wasn't available, so we got the Pan-fried Toothfish cooked with Koko's teriyaki sauce instead. The fish was tender and it was quite good, but again, way too salty.
The Pork Ribs in Soy Mirin Sauce was very tender and my favourite mains dish. It was still a bit too salty, but not as bad as the others.
Finally, the Stir Fried Charcoal Noodles with Spanner Crab sounded better than it tasted. The charcoal noodles wasn't that good, and the crab lacked any flavour.
I looked back at my own blog post about Koko and even then it showed that the mains weren't that great the last time around. The Wagyu served three ways wasn't amazing. The stir fried udon was better than other places, but still not fantastic. And the cold charcoal noodles from last time was again a strange dish I thought.
For dessert, Paul got the Sake Martini with berries and ice cream. It was very refreshing and I liked it.
Jo and Phuong got the Pancakes with red bean and green tea ice cream. This dessert changed from the freshly cooked pancakes of last year to this version. This version was very disappointing. The pancakes tasted very much like the Golden brand pikelets that you can buy from Safeway. I kept trying pieces of it and it tasted just like it. Needless to say, that means it wasn't that good. I wonder if they make them fresh or just buy them. If they make them fresh, then the flavour sure tastes so much like the supermarket bought ones.
I got the Peach Creme Brulee. It was very nice, but a bit too soft. It needed to be a touch firmer. It wasn't as good as the Rockpool creme brulee, which was also much larger for the same price.
One thing that hasn't changed is that service is still very efficient. Our waitress topped our water constantly and kept refilling our hot sake each time it was finished. She also let us know when our bottle of saki was finished so we could order more. Every request for things was quickly fulfilled.
The ambience was much better this time as we were seated in the middle of the restaurant. I liked seeing the view of the city outside, as well as the chefs at the teppanyaki tables doing their work. The room was buzzing but yet you still felt like you had your own space.
We went and took some photos after the meal. Here is Jo and Phuong doing their best lady of the mansion poses.
We were all really tired after drinking so much sake, and the Crown couches were extremely comfortable.
Finally, an interesting shot I took in the lift. The reflection of our faces off the roof, juxtaposed with the background advertisement and the twinkling lights made for an interesting photo I think.
Although the Koko experience this time round was still good, it wasn't as fantastic as we all fondly remembered it. The mains were all too salty and disappointing. The sushi rolls were the highlight and the best I've had anywhere. I've dropped it a point as overall experience wasn't as amazing.
Overall Rating: 16/20, Sushi rolls are amazing and a must order. Service is good.
Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20:Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.