- Ambience barcounterprefix*85barcountersuffix* 85%
- Service barcounterprefix*85barcountersuffix* 85%
- Food barcounterprefix*90barcountersuffix* 90%
- Creativity barcounterprefix*95barcountersuffix* 95%
- Value barcounterprefix*95barcountersuffix* 95%
Just in case you’re not up to snuff on Asian cooking, a bao, sometimes called a baozi, is a velvety bun that is steamed and filled with various meats and other delicacies. They can come in several varieties ranging from spongy buns that are puffy like clouds to thin crepe-like sheets of dough that are folded up and over a large amount of filling and crimped at the top. They are usually round, about 2 ½ inches or 5 cm in diameter.They are always steamed, never baked or fried. Koi Dumplings serves up a variety of these oversized dumplings with a full range of craft beers on tap. I’ve complained on many occasions about the failed attempts of Latin American restaurants to execute Asian cuisine, most notably at Green Bamboo. But Koi Dumplings got it right. With a menu comprised of nothing but a variety of steamed bao, some smaller dumplings and pot stickers, and some simple noodle salads, they’ve hit the nail on the head. They’ve recently added the noodle soup, ramen, to the menu as well. KOI has brought real Asian street-food to the Buenos Aires, and they’ve accompanied it with some top-notch brews. The restaurant has a clean, minimalist feel with an Asian personality, and there’s a large rooftop lounge that’s just perfect for gobbling down a few of those bao and a few brews to boot. It’s the perfect spring evening retreat. The service was spot-on, but I was there late in the afternoon when the restaurant was almost empty, so I can’t guarantee the service would be as favorable when the place is hopping, which it usually is at night. More good news. Palermo Hollywood restaurants are notorious for only being open in the evening hours. KOI is open for lunch on Tuesday through Sundays and they stay open late every day but Monday. That’s good news for anyone wanting a bite to eat or a brew at lunchtime or a late-night meal. Okay. I admit it. I like the place. A closing point of clarification. We note that the biggest problem the owners seem to be facing is what the heck to the call the place. They’ve changed the name at least two times within the past the year. So, don’t be confused if you see references online to KOI coupled with any combination of the words Buns, Dumplings or Beer (all of which they serve). The latest iteration appears to be KOI Dumplings, which is the domain name on their new website. One of the consumer review sites seems to have solved the issue merely by calling the place KOI. Whatever the name, the restaurant deserves a look. Is Palermo Hollywood just too far away for your planned outing? If you’re downtown, in San Telmo, Retiro or Recoleta, be sure to check out Bao Kitchen and Saigón. Bao Kitchen, on the downtown side of Retiro, is the slightly more authentic of the two. Their specialty, as the name implies, is a variety of bao. Saigón, now with locations in Retiro and Mercado San Telmo, emphasize variations of the popular Vietnamese noodle soup, and also serves some quality craft beers. Neither are quite as trendy and hip as Koi in our opinion, nor do they have the pleasant rooftop terrace. But both restaurants are worthy of visit. And don’t overlook our favorite restaurant offering Asian cuisine, the slightly more upscale Sunae Asian Cantina, also in Palermo Hollywood.