151 Gay St.
West Chester, PA
Rating: 4 silver spoons out of 5
Overview: Hip Sushi Bar / Japanese restaurant located in the heart of West Chester. Kooma is a double threat — a very cool room with fabulous, fresh sushi. No longer BYOB, unfortunately.
Food: Full sushi bar as well as a full menu of Japanese cuisine. (The sushi is so good at Kooma that we have only tasted appetizers and sushi; we never had the need to try other entrees.) The steamed pork dumplings — half-moon pan seared dumplings (as opposed to the circular ones that aren’t as good) — were excellent. The must have appetizer is the Negima, thin sliced sirloin rolled (like a sushi roll) with cream cheese and scallions, which is unique and wonderful.
For sushi, the fish is always very fresh and tasty — and while I cannot claim to be a sushi connoisseur, Kooma has the best I’ve ever tasted. They have the traditional Nigiri and plenty of rolls. Although I’ve read that sushi places use the worst fish in their “spicy” rolls, here at Kooma the spicy tuna roll ($6.50) is a must-have. They really ought to bottle and sell the spicy sauce — it is that good. I’d put it on everything. Kooma’s more expensive specialty rolls are stunning in both sight and taste — my personal favorite is the “Sakura” roll ($15.95) — a spicy salmon roll (with that sauce again) with salmon “on top”. Its a large piece, but a gorgeous piece of fresh salmon above the spicy roll is just perfect.
Bar: While I miss the days of BYOB, the bar at Kooma is quite good. There is an extensive martini list, a good variety of saki and plenty of wines under $30, so you don’t have to break the bank (though you might with a few specialty martinis). The bar turns into more of a drinking spot late night, complete with a DJ.
Ambiance: Colorful, stylish room with a large (19-seat!) sushi bar and a spacious dining area. One might expect to see a swank room like Kooma’s in Old City or Manayunk, but in West Chester it is quite the surprise. Club-style music keeps the feeling (but is not distracting) and waiters wear all black — again, a sign the West Chester is definitely changing. There are also a few tables outside on the sidewalk during the warm weather months.
Value: Kooma is not cheap, but neither is top of the line fresh fish. I once paid over $40 for takeout for 2 — a bit more than I normally would for a pick-up meal, but then again this is the best sushi around, so its worth a little extra.
# of times we’ve eaten there: 5+
Reservations: No – call ahead for large groups
Bar: Full (lots of saki)