Koko Japanese Grill
After going back to the Mexican-food well last week, The Grub Spouse and I decided to re-visit another long-ignored international cuisine this week by stopping in at Koko Japanese Grill for dinner. The restaurant is just off North Peters Road, in the same shopping complex as Best Buy and Guitar Center.
A food-prep area and sushi counter are squeezed into the front end of the long, narrow space, leaving mostly a succession of side-wall tables running from the front of the room to the back. The Spouse and I were allowed to take our pick of four-tops in a space that exudes modern and Asian influences in both its furnishings and decor.
Our server gave us a couple of different menus to look over, which collectively represent the restaurant's emphasis on sushi and hibachi-grill entrees. There are also appetizers like pan-fried dumplings, edamame, tempura shrimp and the usual assortment of Japanese soups and salads.
I decided to order a sushi roll as an appetizer. There's an extensive lineup of some 30 regular rolls featuring the likes of tuna, eel, crab and salmon. The Koko roll, for example, is made with teriyaki chicken, cucumber, smelt roe, mayo and green onions.
There is also a section of Chef Sushi Specialties that includes the Volcano Roll (crab meat, lobster salad and more topped with spicy mayo and siracha hot sauce); Angel Roll (shrimp ebi, crab meat and mango topped with spicy tuna); and the Blackjack Roll (fresh yellowtail, lobster salad, cucumber, hot sauce, cooked eel and sliced jalapenos).
All sushi rolls are served in eight pieces and can be wrapped in soy wrap for $2 extra.
The regular sushi menu is half price between 4 and 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, so I backtracked and ordered the Alaska Roll, made with smoked salmon, avocado and cucumber.
The Spouse doesn't care for sushi, so I had this one all to myself and thought it was pretty tasty. The pieces, particularly the rice wrapper, had a fresh texture, although they were on the small side. Of course, I ordered from the regular, less expensive sushi menu, and I suspect that based on the price differential and the number of ingredients, the servings from the specialties menu are likely correspondingly larger.
The Spouse and I both passed on the menu's lone pair of noodle dishes to order from the hibachi entree section, which features various stir-fried combinations of veggies, chicken, tofu, beef, chicken, shrimp, scallops and more. The Spouse ordered the beef and chicken with brown rice, while I got the shrimp with stir-fried rice. Both come with house mushroom soup and salad topped with ginger dressing.
I thought both selections were equally decent. The beef, chicken and shrimp chunks, though modestly sized, embodied their respective, uniquely grilled flavors while also retaining succulence. The stir-fried vegetables were present in balanced proportions, and both our rice selections were fair, although not distinctive.
We passed on dessert selections like ice cream and donuts, but great service, a pleasant atmosphere and respectable cuisine made Koko a worthwhile stop on our international tour.
Koko Japanese Grill
Address: 8883 Town and Country Circle
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; 12 to 5 p.m. Sundays
Beer service only
Dept. of Health Score: 86
Bottom Line: Sushi and hibachi selections abound at this West Knoxville Japanese grill.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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