Kooma, West Chester

December 23rd, 2003

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.

View Kooma’s sushi menu here

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)

47 Responses to “Kooma, West Chester”

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  1. Christine says:

    Had dinner there last night for the first time and it was great. The place was packed but thankfully we had less than a 5 minute wait which is incredible for a Friday night. Looking forward to many more lunches/dinners at Kooma!

  2. Ali says:

    Any GOOD restaurant worth anything will have GOOD service as well. It’s not an exception but the rule to being a GOOD restaurant. It is a shame that people here think that because a place has DECENT food (Kooma has decent food, not spectacular—if you’ve ever eaten sushi or japanese in nyc or tokyo, you’d know that), it can let their customers wait, have a lousy attitude, or get orders wrong.

    If you are willing to sacrifice good service and pay the high prices, then go to Kooma. I am still searching for a good sushi place in the suburbs….

    • Abby says:

      I haven’t been to Kooma yet, but can I plug for a favorite sushi place in a really unexpected suburbian location? Yokohama (in the Marchwood shopping center, right off route 100)was my favorite when we lived out there. Assuming it’s still as good as it used to be, you should give it a shot…

    • Mary says:

      In West Chester, Pa. there is “Wasabi” restaurant to try for sushi, miso soup and Much more. Located in Bradford Plaza on Rt. 322 on west edge of W.Chester. We like the food plus the Atmosphere is a true departure from ‘the norm’!
      Check it out for lunch or dinner.

  3. Nancy says:

    Kooma has the best sushi and sashimi! Everytime that we go elsewhere, we are disappointed. In addition to the great food, we are always treated as royalty by the individuals that prepare the sushi…… No complaints whatsoever!

  4. K says:

    If you don’t want to wait, then obviously don’t go to any good restaurant on a weekend night. Get a clue.
    Kooma is awesome.. My boyfriend and I love it and go at least once a week. Sit at the bar.. the bartenders are the best. They treat their regular like gold!

  5. Nancy says:

    Me and my girlfriend went there on a Sat. night. Got a table right away. Asked the waiter whicj msake was better and he brought it out for us which sucked so bad. Asked him to take it back, and he did without a problem. But our warm Sake that he broghjt out was ever worse. Anyway, got our sushi which is to die for. Amazing and so fresh. Loved the food hated the service. Service there was one of the worst. Becasue we didn’t like our drinks the waiter waited abot 20 minutes and broght our next drinks out with our meal. And everytime we asked him where is our drinks he would say that the bar is too busy!!!!! He was not good and nice at all. And not even once did he come to our table top ask if we need anything or anything like that. Right after we got done eating he came with our check to the table. So we were like ok I guess he wants us out of here, and we left. Sucky sucky service.

  6. Peggy Weinstein says:

    I waited over an hour for takeout! Not doing that again…They need to get it together time-wise over there. When I finally did get my takeout the employee seemed extremely angry at me. Understaffed…and over appreciated. That is Kooma in a nut shell.

  7. Brenda says:

    I was there last night and received an awful service. The wait staff is so arrogant and didn’t know what they were doing. I will never go back!

  8. Jeff Shur says:


  9. Tucker says:

    Wait for takeout is always between 45 mins and an hour. I have to say I do like the food very much, but the service is ridiculous. I always wait at least 45 mins and have waited up to 1 hour and 10 minutes for 10 pieces of sushi. I have been to places in Philly with 3 sushi chefs and twice the clientele and its never this long. One night I called in about 45 minutes before I wanted it, knowing the wait and when I got there the waitress went over to the chef THEN and fired the order. They hadnt even gotten to it until I got there! If there were another place close I would go. They have to get the kitchen sorted out.
    As a PS, dust the damn place!

  10. Dexter R.Colby says:

    Ok people! Listen up! My partner & I have been Dinning at
    Kooma since they have opened their door! Kooma & it’s Staff are number #1 in our book! Everyone is always Friendly & very nice to us! OMG!! The Food is the BOOM!! Shu-Shi is off the hook!! Anyone who says anything bad about Kooma is
    way out of line!!! Sorry Kooma is Top Dog in Chester County!! Sorry People!

    • Blair says:

      Thank you! the service is great! and the food is absolutely delicous. i am a picky eater and this goes beyond my expectations! i cant believe anyone has bad things to say about this incredible restaurant!

    • Dexter R.Colby says:

      Hi All, KOOMA is still Number 1! Staff are very nice & Friendly!
      The Food is still off the HOOK!!! Philly Mag.puts Hun Dynasty as one of
      its Top 50 places to eat! Oh Please!! They need to step back & look at
      KOOMA!! KOOMA should be number One on the Top 50 List!! Hands Down!!!

  11. Kris says:

    We went to Kooma on Superbowl Sunday (First time)

    Great food!

    Will def go back!

  12. Mel says:

    Kooma is a great spot for a good time and lots of delicious Japanese food! I have been there many times with my friends and have never been dissatisfied. Definately order the spicy tuna roll, and the cucumber plum roll! YUM!

  13. Anna says:

    I thought I would put in a good word for the non sushi entree’s- they are absolutely fabulous. The sweet Potato noodle is addictive, and I love their cook-in-front-of you hot bowels of rice and meat or vegetables.

  14. Rebecca says:

    Kooma is by far my favorite spot in West Chester… the food, drinks, and atmosphere are both fun and amazing. The service has always been first class in my experiences (and I’m usually there at least once every weekend). There can be a bit of a wait at times, but that’s because it is so popular and it’s on the small side. Definitely worth the wait every time! Keep up the good work!!!

  15. 4SHUR says:


  16. Duckie says:

    Kooma… Freakin’ AMAZING! Try the Spicy Tuna roll… and if you feel like the price, the Fire Cracker Roll…. (to risk sounding like a valley girl) Oh… my… god… Becky! It just melts in your mouth and sends you to heaven!

    But, as stated before above.. service is kinda crapy.. but so worth it for the food!

  17. Jane says:

    Moderately expensive. GREAT place to stop in for a few drinks, appetizers (are amazing) and some sushi. Don’t come here if you want a quiet sit down meal. The meals are more expensive and personally not as good as the apps and sushi. A great place for a sit down meal is Yokohoma in Exton. Its in the Marchwood Shopping Center and it averages around $20-30 a meal which includes soup, salad, and your meal (which is cooked in front of you). Also Yoko’s is a BYOB- which is always (for me anyway) a huge $ saver.

  18. mark, lauren, and sarah says:

    After checking out many sushi places, this place; Kooma was by far the best place we have been. The experience was amazing. Wonderful service and awesome food! We recommend this restaruant to anyone in the area, and ask for Marianna, she was absolutely terrific!

  19. Joanne Y says:

    Awesome sushi! Love the atmosphere! Highly recommended!

  20. Joanne Y says:

    Awesome sushi! Love the atmosphere! Highly recommended!

  21. EvaS says:

    We eat at Kooma at least once per week. We’ve never had a bad experience or a time when the fish was not fresh. The sushi chefs are alway so friendly and continually fill us with extra treats while we sit at the sushi bar. It also helps when we tip well!
    Occasionally, the service is a bit slow but I look at it this way – It’s worth the wait for great food which prepared fresh to order by a person – then a fast meal which has been prpared by a machine and shipped in from another state.

  22. todd says:

    I’ve eaten there one time and it was excellent. Great food, great location. The atmosphere is very hip and urban, It is a good place to have drinks, meet friends, etc. Also has a DJ on certain weekend nights. I highly recommend you check it out!!!

  23. Christine says:

    I have not yet tried Kooma but am disappointed to hear some of the negative reviews. In my opinion, the best sushi in the western suburbs in Yokohama in Exton (Marchwood Shopping Center). Service is always friendly and the sushi is the best — always fresh. Even the hibachi is great there. BYOB.

  24. Ryan says:

    I have been a big fan of Kooma since it opened. I absolutely love there sushi and eat there all the time. I am so sorry to say that my cousin ate there two Thursdays ago and was admitted to the hospital the next evening. He spent a week at Crozer with a suspected case of Colitis. He received a call from (I think the board of health yesterday) and he tested positive for Saminila. I love this place as I thought the sushi was so top notch but now i will never go back.

  25. irene.k says:

    Kooma is good place to have sushi ,but there is an other place have great sushi in west chester .It was Fuji in Dilworthtown crossing .I have been there few time ,and I love there .the phone number is 16103998588, go try ,my friend .

  26. Dexter R.Colby says:

    It’s Me! Well here is a NEWS FLASH!! My Partner & I Still Rate Kooma # 1 in Chesco.Area! All the Staff.Treat us like
    With Great Respect! The Atmosphere & Sushi & Food are Great!
    Some of you that put Koom down,More then likely have NO Clue
    what Dinning out is all about!! We have Enjoyed Dinning at Koom since they open the door for the first time! So Like I
    have always said( Respect is Earned not Given!) Learn from that! To All the Staff And to Scott & Jeff! Thank you for the Great Food & Drinks & For be So Friendly & Kind to Us!
    Dexter & Vince (Chesco)

  27. Jordan says:

    We went to Kooma last Saturday night and I have to say I love this place. The sashimi was very fresh and their rolls are outstanding. My wife and I are sushi fanatics. We typically have it 2 to 3 times a month. We’ve been to many different sushi restaurants (inlcuding Morimoto’s) and Kooma rates right up their.

  28. Agnes says:

    I’ve been to Kooma a few times, each time quite disappointing because of the food and the service. I come back because its the only sushi place in downtown West Chester. Here’s what I ordered in the past: Pad thai: too salty and the peanuts on top were stale; udon noodles- the broth was really salty; chicken yakitori- chicken was very dry. Sushi is good and fresh if you’re sitting in front of the sushi chef, otherwise the wait staff takes forever to get your order. As for the nightlife there, they have a bunch of overpriced martinis. The drinks are great, the bartenders aren’t.

  29. Grace says:

    I had a huge craving for sushi tonight. I researched places online for good sushi in West Chester, and i found Kooma. I called in and orded their yakitori which is chicken on a kobbob and one order of their california rolls. It was soooooo good :). I was plesently surprised. The chicken was very good, and the sushi was amazing and i could taste how fresh the crab was. The only thing i did not like was the busy, loud atmosphere other than that kooma is my new favorite spot to eat.

  30. Dexter R.Colby says:

    Hi everyone! I & my Partner,Still say Koom is the number 1
    Place to have a great meal & Drink’s meet people! All the Staff are great & hard working, It is very clean & Shui is great too! Keep up the Great Work! Philly.Mag.& Main Line Mag. need to put you on the “A” List! We did! Always,Dexter & Vince (chesco)

  31. J says:

    I have eaten here over a dozen times. Service is absolutely poor on a regular basis. If you are desperate for sushi – it’s the best choice if you are seeking a bar atmosphere and to share a roll or two. Sashimi portions are a joke for the price. Considering that there is no other place around in the borough of West Chester for sushi – this is the best you can get…unfortunately. After 10pm on weekends, make sure you don’t have a window table close to 9, because they will shuffle you out to make room for a DJ and floor space for dancing and more of the bar crowd.

  32. Jennifer says:

    Kooma is ok for sushi and their atmosphere is fun. But, my number 1 spot for fresh sashimi is Teikoku in Newtown Square.

  33. Andy says:

    Got there at 7:30 on Friday, and asked for seating for 8. We were told it would be at least an hour. We returned at 9:30 with no table ready. Stood around until 9:45 and forced combination of tables to be able to sit down.

    Ordered our meals (never received waters all-around, nor silverware). Rice was brought out at 10:15…no dinner until 10:30…rice was cold.

    Needless to say, the service was poor. I suspect they are not equipped to handle weekend crowds…beware.

  34. Natalie says:

    I love Kooma. Fabuous sushi! I dont like it when it is busy…..too loud and I have to wait a while. The staff is super friendly and helpful and they go as fast as they can. Fish is super fresh. Bar is unessential. Great atmosphere. Love the design!!

  35. Jennifer says:

    I went to Kooma tonight and took my son Mark to celebrate how well he is doing in school. Well to begin with we sat outside for at least 10 min and waited on someone to take our order and no one ever showed up.
    So we went inside where the hostess handed me the menus and silverware and asked me to take care of myself because she was busy with someone else. We take the stuff and turn around to go back outside to the patio dining and found four other women sitting at our table, so I turn around and tell her and she asks me if I want to sit inside. Hmmmm….where else will I sit?
    So we are seated, wait on someone to take our drink order for another 10 min and put our food order in right away with the drink order. Well we end up ordering a few side dishes, which were 1 California roll, 1 miso soup, 1 dumpling soup, and a small bowl of rice. This is when the outrage begins…..We get a bowl of soup and a bowl of rice after 20 min of waiting. Twenty min after than we get our bowl of dumpling soup. We NEVER get our one measly California roll.
    During this entire outrageous event I see many people that were seated well after us get huge sushi orders and meals delivered to our table….and we sit there embarrassed and without half of our food.

    This I remind you is the third time service has been terrible at this restaurant….and three strikes with me it’s our for good. I am not interested in coming back.

    To end the story I got tired of waiting and watching others enjoy there dinners and simply threw the cash on the table and walked out.

    What is so difficult about preparing 4 side orders, which one includes scooping pre-cooked rice out of a rice cooker and putting it in a bowl become time consuming and takes an hour to throw together?

    I think that this place is very stuck up and did not want to serve my son and I because we were not trendy college kids or rich people….

    I will state that I served over eight years in the United States Marine Corps and am now a disabled veteran, and in all my travels across the world I have never been treated so rudely. I am truly disappointed and was embarrassed to have my son in a place that treated people so terribly.

    In my tour in Okinawa, Japan I spent a year learning the Japanese culture and cuisine, and I do know that Kooma, which is a Japanese restaurant, serves the Japanese culture complete discredit and I am ashamed that Kooma even claims to be a Japanese restaurant. What a shame and embarrassment to the Japanese culture.

  36. Katherine says:

    Absolutely love Kooma. I am a huge sushi fan and i must say Kooma has some of the best sushi i have ever had. I am a student at West Chester and atleast 2 times a week me and my roommates will treat ourselves to dinner there. It is welcoming and the service is awesome. I cant wait to eat there again!

  37. Jim says:

    Stopped in early on past Sat PM, very busy with the college crowd and now the bar. Food was acceptable, but can find better sushi with little effort. Service was very poor, had to ask for sugar for ice tea several times, same for soy sauce. Brought out 2 appetizers (ordered one for app and one for entree) for my date, but did not bring out my appetizer or salad until sushi, salad and dinner arrived. She ate alone and then I ate alone, unbelievable. No sound deadening in walls or ceiling either and ambient noise was deafening after a while. Pick someplace else.

  38. Terence says:

    I love Kooma…for lunch, dinner, or even to go out at night and have a few drinks in a respectable atmosphere. Not to mention that on the weekends they serve the best sushi until 1am (they might shut down the Sushi bar earlier if no one is patronizing it). It’s an overall nice trendy restaurant/lounge in West Chester.

  39. chris says:

    best sushi in the world…make it there 3-4 times a month minimum.

  40. Dexter R.Colby says:

    Every Saturday Evening,We always end up at Kooma..Lots of reasons! Food & Sushi are Great! All the Staff are Very Freindly! Koom is thy Best place in West Chest for food & Drinks & meeting new people!! I tell alot of my friends &
    they go there!! Thanks for the good food & Good time!
    Keep up the GREAT Work!!!!! Dexter R.Colby

  41. Elizabeth says:

    Kooma has great sushi and sashimi. The service wasn’t as great as I had hoped, as our waitress was too busy socializing to keep up with our drinks and make sure we had all the necessary items (soy sauce was no where to be found until we requested it twice!) We were also bombarded by an extremely drunk girl who was literally asking to try things on our plates (gross). As stated in the main review, the liquor license actually acts as a negative being as it is located in a college town. Another negative is that they are no longer open for lunch. That stinks! The food is good, but I’ll take Teikoku any day of the week.

  42. administrator says:

    From Jane (1/04): I admit that I am a sushi addict! I’ve been to some of the best and most famous sushi resturants in the US and I must say that Kooma is one of my favorites! Great sushi resturants not only have awesome fresh fish, but also have great signature items and excellent cooked dishes. Kooma definetly has it all and a fantastic owner who makes you feel like he is genuinely glad that you are having a good time and enjoying your experience.

    From Stuart (1/04): It’s the best sushi place in the philly metro area. The rest of the menu is amazing too! The owner, Scott, a certified Sushi Chef himself goes out of his way to treat you like a human being and a friend as well. Kooma is absolutely perfect!

    From Michelle (10/05): I thought I had the best sushi in the area…what a shock I got when I had dinner at Kooma! The Wait Staff ~ knowledgable, friendly and very attentive. The Menu ~ Great diversity between sushi and dinners. You could eat there on a weekly basis for a few months and have something new everytime. The Sushi & Rolls ~ I wanted to look out the window to see if we were close to the ocean – that’s how fresh the sushi was!!! The specialty rolls are phenomenal!! Large Portions, Gorgeous Presentation and the Taste will blow any other sushi place you have gone to right out of the water! Order the sushi rice over the regular rice – it is very tasty! I cannot rave enough about this place. It began a favorite of mine after only 1 visit.

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