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Ko Ko Ro Sushi

By: EAS Staff Posted: July-13-2009 in
EAS Staff

Last night I was completely famished and could not face another bowl of prahok, noodles or soup if my life depended upon it. A colleague in the office who shares a similar penchant for Japanese food had mentioned a great sushi restaurant where the Khmer chef has been trained by a Japanese master and apparently it was also reasonably priced. So with my girlfriend eager to join me, we headed for Ko Ko Ro at #18 Eo Sihanouk Boulevard (St 274). On arrival to this bright little hole in the wall, we are met by the owner, an excitable and altogether charming, if not slightly eccentric, Japanese man by the name of Toshi. "Just like Toshiba!" he informs me.

As we are ushered to our seats by Toshi (he decides where you sit), the first thing we are offered is a free beer and it is my favorite, Asahi, no less. As a result of that single action I am a convert to this place straight away. Anywhere that hits you up with free ale upon entry is AOK with me. We are also supplied with a chilled face flannel to wash our faces with. Bliss! Then an array of menus is presented -one for sushi, one for sashimi and one for booze. I could not see the point of the food menus as the walls are festooned with pictures of the available dishes and their prices. I am confused and do not know whether to look up at the wall or down at the menu or over at the intensely amusing and altogether entertaining Toshi who has me in hysterics with just about everything he says. As I order mixed platters of sushi and sashimi, he regales me with a story about how his wife had beaten him up the night before and insists I look at his face closely to assess the bruising. His lovely Khmer wife looks on and rolls her eyeballs with a smile whilst Toshi tells me that the punch she delivered was so lethal that he cannot remember his name and has been to the Japanese Embassy to try and find out who he is. At one point he even leaves the restaurant and with full pantomime, walks out into the middle of Sihanouk looking like a lost child. I am in absolute tears, a combination of his antics and the huge dollop of wasabi I accidentally dropped in my little soy dish.

The food is extremely good. Having come from Australia where Sushi is well and truly established as a mainstream dining option with top quality Japanese restaurants aplenty, I was impressed with the presentation and the quality of the fare in front of me. The salmon sashimi looked suspiciously like packet salmon but Toshi assured me he slices it off an actual fish that he gets from the market and I did not doubt him. The squid sashimi was excellent and the prawn tempura (ordered after spying it on the wall) was nothing short of delicious - the spicy fried heads were to die for. I am a huge miso soup fan and I dusted 3 bowls of Toshi's broth but I had to draw the line at his offering of Japanese Vodka which is housed in huge ceramic urns and are numbered from 1 (for total destruction) through to 6 (for mildly stupefying). I was tempted to get a little crazy with him on some warm Sake as I think he would make a brilliant drinking partner but as I had to work the next day I decided wisely against it.

As we plough through the platters, Toshi brings photo albums of his world trip to the table and invites us to peruse them. He is keen to point out one specific shot - that of a rather phallic looking rock (rhymes with……) in Death Valley and he is proud as punch of this shot. In actual fact the photos really are great and as he was traveling the world in the 80s, they are worth a look for the hairstyles and fashions alone. There is a classic one of Toshi with a mohawk and his Japanese travel mate with an afro playing around in the Utah sand hills. Extremely cool! See Toshi in New Zealand! See Toshi in Australia! See Toshi in the Grand Canyon….hell….if you have the time….see him in all 30 countries he visited!

All in all it was a great night that came out of a random decision. Excellent Japanese food, great company and classic, side-splitting antics from an unexpected host. All up dinner and a couple of beers each came to $19. My girlfriend chatted to his wife whilst Toshi and I cemented our friendship and as he slipped a FREE BEER card into my hand ("not just for you - for all your friends! Please be my advertiser!! ") I promised to see him again soon. Maybe next time I will plan it for a Friday night and get stuck into the Sake with him for some real fun!


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