And so it was a hastily conferred meetup with some of my friends for a hastily convened birthday dinner. We found ourselves at the predictable stretch of Orchard Road, and randomly found ourselves at Koh's Grill & Sushi, located at the newly refurbished Wisma Atria, in its foodrepublic food court. It was highly popular, evident from the snaking queues even though it was still relatively early in the dinner hour, at about 6.30PM.
I wasn't expecting anything much other than quality Japanese food, an expectation raised from the long queue and the legit-ly looking Japanese chefs cutting and serving plate after plate of sushi. The crowd seemed to be relishing in their food. Looked good, so….
But then I was to be disappointed. Service was curt and lukewarm at best, with most of the servers insisting on speaking in Chinese despite us speaking in English. Something that I don't like. Hmmm.
The tables were tightly packed and squeezed in with people, all in a raucous and noisy atmosphere, making it somewhat of an uncomfortable dining experience for us. This was all before we even ordered anything.
I ordered the Tempura Udon ($9), which was pretty mediocre. The udon had the texture of a rubber eraser. You couldn't go wrong with the udon soup, it was sweet and light, like it was supposed to be. Perhaps another comfort was also the tempura, which wasn't greasy or drenched in oil, and the batter was light. However, the prawns were overcooked, and didn't taste sweet or fresh… it tasted frozen.
I tried my friend's Tokyo Ramen ($8), hoping for something better. The noodle dough was probably a little bit raw. And sadly, the shio-based stock was… too salty for my taste (yes, I do know that shio stock is meant to be salty). So for those of you that like tonkotsu-broth ramen, this one.. probably isn't for you. The onsen egg was mistaken for a hard-boiled egg (yolk was pretty damn dry for an onsen egg), and the bamboo shoots probably could have been cooked a little longer for it to be softer. The saving grace was the charsiew, which was pretty decent. At $8, I'd rather pay $5 more for a much more decent bowl of ramen at Maccha House at Orchard Central.
We also ordered some maki to share. The 1st generation "Shiok" Maki ($16.80) came first. It was overwhelmed in this cheese sauce, and they used the smaller lower quality roe on top. There was a nice charred taste to the cheese, but that flavour was overpowering and I could barely taste any seafood. It didn't feel like a maki at all and at $16… I was just expecting something better than a tasty cheese roll.
The 2nd Generation "Shiok" Maki ($16.80) fared better, but only barely. The cheese sauce was less overpowering and the roe was the good quality one (the one that pops in your mouth kind). The salmon on the maki was decent and had a nice smoky flavour to it. Yet, the prawn was over-fried and greasy, marring this dish. And of course, the price point had allowed me to want something… better. Especially with the allegedly good ingredients inside (like the unagi) — they weren't the star of the show.
In all, I had expected something better from the queues here. But perhaps a saving grace would be it's price — fairly reasonable for japanese fare in the city.
Sadly though, it just didn't save enough grace within me to want to go back again.
Koh Grill & Sushi Bar
435 Orchard Road
Wisma Atria FoodRepublic
Reservations: 9180 3805
Open Daily: 11AM-10.30PM