Cafe Koi is a cute little place I’ve walked past a few times but never really noticed. When I was here this time there was construction on the sidewalk outside, making it even harder to see. C chose the restaurant because it has a big selection of vegetarian dishes on the menu. There was even live music!
The website says: Koi is a blend of passionate people pooling their skills to provide urban Calgary with a forward-thinking environment, serving delicious and nutritious food, creating unique communities, and supporting local art, music, and culture.
The website provides the monthly calendar for live music – I’m actually pretty impressed with the restaurant’s support of local artists. My only beef is that the place is so small, we felt that the music was way too loud for the venue. C and I couldn’t even talk when the musician was playing…
For dinner we shared a couple appetizers and both ended up getting the same curry bowl.
The vegetarian gyoza – pan-seared dumplings with a citrus soy dip for $9 were just OK. I found them to be quite boring and we really needed to use chilli sauce to add some flavour.
We also ordered the lantern rolls – baked spring rolls with mushrooms, carrots, suey choy, spring onions and chilli plum dipping sauce for $10. Again, they were just OK. The flavours were good but they fell apart… spring rolls should hold together when you pick them up and eat them with your fingers. I’m sorry I even have a photo to show, but it is what it is…
There’s a large selection of bowls at Cafe Koi – you can get beef, prawns, salmon, tofu and protein free. If you’re not in the mood for rice you can sub out the rice for more veggies or for noodles ($2 extra). My logic for selection was that I wanted to cook something I couldn’t cook at home. I’m still learning how to cook tofu well, so I went with the Buddha bowl ($17) – a coconut curry bowl with mushrooms, broccoli, seasonal vegetables and pan-seared tofu. Mostly, I just wanted to see how they cooked their tofu so I could learn from it. I wasn’t that impressed. I found the curry to be too runny and not very flavourful – I could definitely make this dish at home, and I’m pretty sure it would be tastier. The tofu was different – I couldn’t pinpoint all the seasonings but it seemed like there was a hint of allspice or something similar.
I wanted to love this place but I came away disappointed. I think it would be a good place to walk to for a work lunch with co-workers (it’s a bit of a trek for me, but not too bad on a nice day). I’ll give it one more chance at some point… I’d really like to try their veggie burger.