By the paint job, you might first think of Red Koi Thai & Sushi Lounge in Coral Gables, Fla., as a date place. The deep, sensuous red on the walls is accented by black furniture and art elements. Ambient lighting keeps the restaurant dim with plenty of two-person tables and a few four-tops. You would expect to see couples and there are plenty of them, but on the night I visited there were also families, groups of friends, and a birthday party taking place all at once. These mixed groups may make the atmosphere seem confused but instead indicates that Red Koi is hip but accessible to varied demographics. But I should let the food speak for itself.
Red Koi offers both Thai and Japanese cuisine and their extensive menu can be a bit overwhelming unless you have an idea of what you want before you visit. The appetizer menus are small and contain old favorites such as shrimp shumai, gyoza (steamed or lightly fried), edamame, and chicken or beef satay. The menu also contained the ubiquitous Bangkok Shrimp (although it holds similar names in other restaurants), tempura-fried shrimp cooked in a spicy sauce. I started with the steamed gyoza ($5.50) , served with ponzu sauce. The gyoza were extremely delicate, tearing at any pressure from the chopsticks, slipping and sliding around the small platter upon which they were served. After I finally got to taste one, I found the dumpling outside to be tender and slightly salty from the ponzu sauce drizzled upon it and the pork inside to be juicy and flavorful with spring onion. The six gyoza, split between my dinner guest and myself, were a light and easy start to the rest of the meal.
I ordered the All Season Duck ($20) from the Signature House Dishes menu, a boneless duck breast fried until crispy and cooked through and served with cashews, peas, carrots, cabbage, fresh ginger, and a ginger sauce. Fried whole and then sliced, I found the breast to be crispy and the meat to be juicy throughout much of the breast. However, the slices were way too long and wide to be picked up with chopstick and needed significant cutting down before they were able to be eaten. While being flavorful dish, there were some issues with dryness on the edges of the breast meat. Due to the tapering of the breast at the ends, the edge pieces of the duck were very dry and hard to eat. The ginger sauce did contribute some moisture back into the meat but not enough for it to be enjoyable. Serving the fried breast in the ginger sauce also caused the breading to become soggy if not eaten relatively quickly.
My dining companion ordered the Fresh Garlic Scallops, whereby the scallops were sauteed in a garlic sauce and served on a bed of rice. This was a more successful dish than my own, the scallops being sweet and just melting in the mouth. The garlic sauce had its own sweetness and paired well with the scallops.
All in all, Red Koi offers a variety of Japanese and Thai dishes and a vibrant, inviting atmosphere to diners of varying demographics. It's a nice fish in the big pond of Miracle Mile eateries. However, it may need to pay attention to the duck.