Koh Grill & Sushi Bar Hot
Koh Grill & Sushi Bar is a small Japanese restaurant located at Wisma Atria's Food Republic.
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Shiok Maki is Shiok
I came to this restaurant specifically for their renowned Shiok Maki. This flagship sushi is a tempura prawn sushi roll topped with aburi salmon sashimi and generous amounts of salmon roe and mentaiko sauce.
Each bite of the sushi is a symphony of textures and tastes. The first to get you is the smoking hot aburi, then the crunch on the ebi within the role, and finally the pop of the salmon roe. All of this strung together with a creamy mentaiko sauce that you just can’t get enough of.
Every patron orders at least one plate of Shiok Maki. This dish is so good, it's personal.
Sitting at the bar also offers you a view of the sushi chefs at work. When I was there I also got to observe a chef deboning a whole salmon over the course of my meal. It was pretty impressive.
Their shiok maki exceeded my expectations.
If you have an Instagram account, you’ll most likely have chanced across a picture of a droolworthy plate of maki. There’s a 99% chance that it came from Koh Grill & Sushi Bar.
Arriving on a Weekday early evening, I was shocked to see that there was already a rather long queue forming. As I entered the restaurant, I spotted almost every table had a tantalising plate of mentai-drenched maki. Of course, I had to order a plate for myself. One bite in and I felt like I had been transported to taste heaven. The maki was topped with a generous amount of Tobiko, and melt-in-your-mouth salmon. It was simply divine.
Other dishes that are worth trying are their Garlic Fried Rice, and the Grilled Salmon Skin. While simple, both dishes are cooked well and bursting with umami goodness. If you’ve never tried Koh Grill & Sushi Bar, go straight down to town right now. You won’t regret it.
Quite shiok only
The most popular dish at Koh grill and sushi bar is the Shiok maki, which according to many people, is very shiok. I knew I had to try it! On a Saturday evening, the queue at Koh's was really quite terrifying. Waited for close to an hour before I could get myself seated.
We ordered the shiok maki, unagi hot plate and an udon. Not sure if my expectation was too high as everyone raved about how good the shiok maki is. Don't get me wrong. It was delicious. But not to a point where I would queue for an hour to have it. The rice was slightly hard and on the dry side. I was under the impression that they prepared the sushi way beforehand and left it there, causing the texture of the rice to turn hard. But to be honest, I really loved the sauce and wished that there was more. And the dollop of roe on top was pretty generous too. The unagi hot plate however, took me by surprise. We polished off the entire plate with thick pieces of well marinated unagi.
Since I was there for the Shiok maki, I was expecting myself to be blown over. $16.80 for a serving of sushi, I was hoping that it came with more sauce and softer rice.
As of writing this review, there are 3,500 pictures of the famous Shiok Maki tagged on Instagram. I am convinced that Koh Bar and Grill is the pilgrimage that all #sgfoodies of Instagram have to make. With that being said, once was enough for me and I would rather eat at Itacho or The Sushi Bar instead.
If you come during the peak period of lunch/dinner time, be prepared to queue for at least half an hour. Even though I made my visit at 2pm and didn't have to queue for a seat, I still ended up waiting half an hour for my food anyway. The curious thing was, however, that there were plates of maki just sitting at the top of the counter the entire time I was there. All the chef really needed to do was pour the cheesy mayo sauce over the maki and torch it a little and we could have been served.
Overall, I don't think the shiok maki is anything really that special and the poor service puts me off from wanting to return again. Whole slabs of salmon were also left on the counter top (not in the glass case) the entire time I was there. Such a disappointment.
Shiok Maki is really shiok
When you go to Koh Grill & Sushi Bar, the only thing you gotta have is the legendary Shiok Maki they have there. It's oozing awesomeness, and is a refreshing combination of shiokness (I really don't know how else to describe it). It's the only reason why I would visit the place again. If you haven't tried it, you sure have to.
Other than that, the food there is pretty average. It's comparable to the other common Jap places. The food there is really pricey though, so I'm sure you can get Jap cuisine for the same quality at lower prices. Service is also pretty horrible. It's always crowded and the wait to get in and the wait for the food is really long. Also, the service staff forgot my order the time I was there.
My two cents' worth: If you've never gone there before, go on, try it at least once. But if you're expecting really good Jap food, it's not worth the wait, and you will probably end up paying more than you would for the overall experience.
Super Shiok Maki
I don't know what they put into the Shiok Maki but its truly amazing. And I thought I couldn't love sushi any more than I already did. Apparently its only avocado, unagi and aburi salmon drenched in a cheesy sauce but I'm going to hold my ground and insist that there is some magic involved because it really just tastes that good.
The other dishes on the menu are also pretty darn good although they don't really match up to the standard of the Shiok Maki. But I still think its a great spot for Japanese food while you're in town. Price wise, Japanese food is usually on the pricey side anyway so the prices here shouldn't come as a shock. A friend and I spent about $60 between the two of us.
The only downside is that there is usually a pretty long queue and you might feel obliged to rush through your meal when you see the number of people waiting outside. I was lucky to have dined here on a weekday evening so I waited about 25 mins but expect to wait significantly longer on the weekends.
After being turned off by the neverending queue at Koh Grill & Sushi Bar multiple times, I finally had the chance to enter this restaurant with NO QUEUE. The secret? Check in past 8pm!
True to all the publicity about their signature Shiok Maki, it had indeed lived up to its reputation. Even for someone who doesn't fancy sashimi, my boyfriend polished the sushi down moments after it was served.
I love everything the sushi encompassed- the sweet sauce over the sushi, the generous roe toppings and best of all, the crispy prawn wrapped within the rice.
It's no wonder why the queue is perpetually long!
Not worth the wait
I've heard about Koh Grill's and seen so many pictures of Shiok Maki from so many of my friends, so I had high expectations for the place. We queued for approximately30 minutes before finally managing to get a table.
We ordered a lot of dishes, including the shiok maki, teriyaki, udon and grilled items. The shiok maki did not make us feel shiok at all, in fact it was only average. Yes, the ingredients are good, and the amount of mayo sauce and mentaiko given is generous, but the combination and overall taste did not quite make it. The udon was also mediocre, and the grilled items were ridiculously overpriced for their small portions.
Also, the service is really appalling here. I understand that the place is always crowded and there might be insufficient staff, but some of the servers should not show black faces to the customers. Be prepared to wait ten minutes for servers to take your orders since the place is always so crowded. All in all, I don't think this place is as good as other people make it out to be. It's overpriced and overcrowded, but the food and service are not worth the wait and price.
Mad, and not in a good way at all.
The wait was horrendous. And I'm not even talking about the ridiculous queue outside. Rather, the wait INSIDE was horrendous, seeing as it took what felt like an eternity for just two orders of sushi to arrive. And I have absolutely no idea what the chefs or waiting staff were doing, working rather furiously behind the counter and hurrying from table to table at whirlwind speed. All that flurry and frenzy of activity, and yet there was not much by way of service except showing customers to their seats, bringing them their drinks, and (falsely and repeatedly) assuring them that food is on the way. And strangely enough, there were at least half a dozen plates of sushi set in front of the counter, and there they sat for about as long an eternity as endured by the hungry (and in a few cases, very angry) customers who were getting visibly restless with every passing second of that horrendous wait. There they sat, those cleanly cut, neatly arranged segments of salmon-wrapped maki, and there they continued to sit as though waiting to draw some flies, when they are merely a drizzle of fat and topping of roe away from serving.
Unfortunately, while the taste wasn't bad at all, it did not compensate for the preposterous and unacceptable waiting time. Yes, there was both unagi and salmon in the maki, and the maki cubes were generously drizzled with a mentaiko-mayo mix and then seared and then topped equally generously with a mound of salmon roe. What could be better than that, one might think. But my verdict is simply this: the fat has overwhelmed the flavour that there is no flavour except that of fat. I could taste neither salmon nor unagi, though I certainly felt them with my tongue; all I get is that cloying richness of the fat and the briny flavour of the salmon roe. The salmon and unagi, their natural flavours, are wasted in this novel, apparently brilliant, but definitely overambitious creation.
Worth the wait
After being plagued by the ubiquitous pictures of the Shiok Maki all over my social media feeds, I decided to finally pay this place a visit to a put a rest to my curiosity, and I've never looked back since.
The first time i went to Koh Grill, it was lunch time and I had the relatively value for money bento set. I had the sashimi bento set (can't remember which set it was but sashimi! it is unmistakeable). The sashimi was fresh and the mini udon that came with the set was delightful. It didn't look like it'd be filling, but it was adequately satiating and definitely worth the money.
The 3 specialities of the eatery, I'd say would be the Shiok Maki, Shiok Maki 2 and the Crappy Maki which is not at all crappy, but a little embarrassing to say out loud. The Shiok Makis GUARANTEE that your palette will be invigorated, especially the first time you sink teeth into these delightful morsels of happiness. However, the downside to it is that it often comes way way way after your main course, so don't be ambitious and order too much or too filling a main course or you'll find yourself saturated with food.
It is very much advisable to SHARE the Shiok Maki with a friend. You'll find that selfishness in this respect will leave you quite sick of the sauce after devouring the entire plate by yourself. For the most bang for your buck, it is best to come with 3 friends. There are advantages to this: 1. you can take turns to queue, 2. you won't have to share a table with strangers and eavesdrop on their conversations and 3. you can order a lot of the specialty dishes and try a bit of each.
The place is usually swamped with people and it is rather difficult to get the attention of the servers, but it is a small price to pay in exchange for the delectable food.
Here are my reviews of the dishes I've tried in my numerous ventures to the place.
Shiok Maki: Little needs to be say. Definitely a must-try. But the sauce is cloying after a while and this is best shared with a friend.
Shiok Maki II: Nearly as good as the original, but not quite there. Also, not for people that are allergic to prawns. Doesn't have the decadence and richness of the original Shiok Maki, but worth the order when eating in groups.
Crappy Maki: This is utterly delightful. It comes without the creamy sauce of the Shiok Makis but holds its own with a delightful surprise of crispy soft shell crab in the middle of the Maki topped generously with lots of fish roe.
Salmon Belly Soup: Not for non salmon lovers. Bit fishy by my standards, but I imagine it'd be a good meal for someone recovering from surgery.
Fried Garlic Rice ($5): Very fragrant, and is a good main course to order if one is intending to share Makis with friends. Beware of the carb overload
Fried Udon: This is very very fragrant but extremely filling. Upon my many visits to Koh Grill I've found that this is the dish that is most often unfinished because it is extremely starchy and fills you up right away. It is therefore advisable that you do not attempt to finish the whole plate on your own or you will most likely find yourself unable or unwilling to eat anything else after that.
Cha Soba: Refreshing and good. I've found that this is a great main course to order to accompany the Makis because it is light but not too much. It's a great way to stop your stomach from growling while you wait for your Makis to arrive at your table.
Sashimi Bento: AWESOME. I've no idea why anyone would get any other bento when this is available. Of course, I am very very partial to salmon sashimi. Only available during lunch, though!
All in all. This is a great place for lunch if you are looking for decently priced good food. Don't expect much of the ambience and service though, expect to make it a quick affair: queue, eat, get out. Any lingering in the restaurant is frowned upon because of the score of people waiting their turn to go in. A great place for lunch in town, definitely my favourite! :D