Koi: Meals fueled with nostalgia

It’s been pretty difficult to find good Chinese food around Evanston, but over the past few months I’ve discovered Koi to be an excellent go-to option for when I’m in the mood for some of my favorite traditional Chinese dishes, or when I’m craving a special sushi meal.

I’m excited to partner up with Koi to share some of my favorite menu items with you!

Dragon Maki Roll

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Photo source: Koi

Ever since the summer after freshman year, I’ve been a huge fan of dragon rolls. The obsession started at a small sushi joint called Ayaka in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I would go every Saturday night with a group of friends to gossip and eat. That nostalgic past time has prompted me to order the dragon roll at nearly every other sushi place I’ve visited since. Of course, I had to see how Koi pulled it off.

The presentation was thoughtful and intricate, with the roll placed on a pool of sauces, spiked out to give a more threatening body to the dragon. The chef had even carved out a dragon head from a lemon rind. I almost didn’t want to eat it – almost.

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Eel and avocado clashed perfectly with each other, with the creamy avocado balancing out the fishy bite of eel and crispy tempura shrimp inside.

Mu Shu Wraps

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While Mu Shu wraps are probably more of an American-Chinese menu item, they’re definitely one of my guilty pleasures. They’re thin Chinese pancakes stuffed with a savory mixture of chopped, stir-fried pork, egg and vegetables like carrots and cabbage.

The wraps are served in a bamboo basket, and you get to assemble your own wrap. I encourage you to seal the deal with a generous helping of hoisin sauce. It’s messy, but delightfully satisfying.

Cauliflower & Green Beans

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Photo source: Koi

You all know that cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables, right? I know what you’re thinking. Seriously, cauliflower? A side dish?

I love the wok-seared cauliflower because it tastes pretty much exactly how I cook it at home, with a little bit of soy sauce, quickly over high heat. It keeps the vegetable firm, and it doesn’t fall apart or get all mushy like when you steam it.

Not a fan of cauliflower? Order a side of green beans instead. If you’ve ever been with me at a Chinese restaurant, you’ve undoubtedly heard me rave about how a restaurant’s green bean dish speaks volumes about how authentic and well-prepared the rest of the food there is.

The green beans at Koi are well-prepared and flavorful, cooked in a sweet, salty, soy-based sauce. They pair well with a bowl of plain rice, which is probably my favorite way to eat them. My parents used to scold me for gorging on green beans and rice when there were so many other dishes to choose from, but at this point, they’ve come to accept it.

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