There are two kinds of people: those who have been to Koi and those who have not. At the moment, no other restaurant in Bangkok is as talked-about as Koi is—from the food and the concept to rumors of business conflicts and/or shading dealings to star sightings (the parent outlet in Los Angeles is known for its popularity among A-list celebs like Leonardo DiCaprio, after all) and models night. Yes, Friday night is models night at Koi, though the leggy, pouty crowd generally sticks to the sleek standalone bar and its raised patio, sipping on wasabi martinis. The promotion achieves its desired effect (buzz), and there’s a lively vibe to the entire operation, which you feel the moment you stroll into the gorgeously minimalist grounds. The restaurant, too, is buzzing. All-black with a funky modern mix streaming out of unseen speakers, the dining area feels more like a lounge than a restaurant—or perhaps a movie theater, the way the keen hostesses are obliged to show you the way through the darkness and tell you when to watch your step. As you would expect from a place this hot, just about all of the tables are occupied, even the food-court like two-tops in the center of the room, mostly with young and well-dressed Thais and expats, but there is the occasional wealthy patriarch and his family, as well. The service here is excellent, the waiters friendly, helpful and, most significantly, plentiful. The food is fusion, more LA Japantown than Japan, which is why aficionados of authentic Japanese cuisine have been severely disappointed at Koi, not by the quality of the ingredients (except for the disc of cheap wasabi that comes flower-shaped, like kids’ food) but the strong flavors that sometimes mask the true flavors of the fish. We like such bold tastes like these here in Bangkok, however, and we also appreciate the role of texture in most of the dishes. It’s easy to be a food snob, but the fact is only a small percentage of people actually like to try genuinely new things, to get out of their comfort zone, and this menu, despite the exotic-sounding ingredients, is comfortable, not cutting edge. So we won’t cry over the delicate yellowtail that is prepared carpaccio-style and dressed with grape seed oil, ponzu sauce and wasabi-marinated roe nor the hamachi scented with truffle oil and blanketed in fried scallions nor the tuna used to make the haw mok-like spicy tuna soufflé that rests on a crisp-edged wedge of rice nor the silky and sweet strip of black cod that is doused in a heavy miso and soy glaze. What we might mourn are the prices (even a cup of miso soup, a dish of pickled cucumbers), but we won’t on this night, because we’re intoxicated by the sexy surrounds and the intense flavors in our mouths, that and the Dai Gin Jyo sake (300ml). Besides, we wouldn’t want to cry in front of all those models.