Smile Politely

KoFusion in Downtown Champaign is an elegant place for a meal

I am a fan of sushi, and in Champaign-Urbana, we have a great selection of places to enjoy rolls. I am also a fan of new things, and when KoFusion opened their new location, I wanted to see what that shiny white building on Main Street was all about.

Since opening in 2005, KoFusion has been a staple of Downtown Champaign for years, and recently, the Asian restaurant moved to a new location in Downtown Champaign. In February of 2019, we shared that the owner of KoFusion had purchased the former PNC space, and earlier this month, KoFusion opened in the new space.

I was excited to see the space and try the food. I made two visits: one with my friend and one with my husband, and I share all about the dining experience at the new location and what I ordered.

The host stand at KoFusion is empty. There is a beautiful glass circle art piece behind the desk, and on either side, a very neutral upscale dining room can be seen with black chairs. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The new location is quite beautiful. I walked into KoFusion to find this host stand. There is a bar to the right, and a private meeting room to the left. There are two spacious dining rooms inside and a large area for outdoor seating.

An overhead photo shows a gray speckled table with a bowl of tempura fried veggie strings with a yellow mango cocktail, a ginger mule, and a ginger martini surrounding the bowl. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

On my first visit to the new location, I was starving when I arrived, so I immediately ordered an appetizer and some drinks to start. 

On a gray outdoor table, there are two cocktails on a gloomy day. The one on the left is orange in a martini glass with a dark red cherry at the bottom. The one of the right is in a half tumbler and light orange. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

I ordered two drinks for research, and after sipping, I found them both excellent. The mango go go drink ($10) came in a martini glass with a cherry at the bottom of the glass. It was quite sweet and had a lovely, prominent mango flavor. I couldn’t taste the alcohol in this one, so if you like sweet drinks where you can’t taste the booze, go for this!

The “gin”ger old fashioned ($11.50) was made with gin, ginger syrup, orange, and cherry, and it was quite tasty. I could taste the alcohol in this, but instead of the old fashioned’s familiar bourbon bite, there was a great gin flavor.

On a gray table, there is a white bowl of fried tempura vegetable strings with a side cup of soy sauce with sesame seeds. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

To start, I ordered the vegetable tempura ($10) appetizer. The veggie tempura was a heaping bowl of battered and fried vegetable strings. The vegetables were all bite-sized, and the tempura batter was light and crisp. The app was had a great fried flavor and was well seasoned. I liked how small and thin the slivers of veggies were because it made for easy dipping and easy eating.

An overhead photo shows the author's lunch: pork belly ramen in a brown bowl, three sushi rolls each on their own white rectangular plate, and a small black plate holding nigiri salmon. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

We ordered an entree of pork belly ramen, three different sushi rolls, and a piece of salmon nigiri.

In a beige bowl, there is pork belly ramen. The ramen noodles float in a reddish broth with charred pork belly on top. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The pork belly ramen ($18) entree was so satisfying on a cold day. You can order it mild or spicy, and I went for the spicy version. It was a good call: the spicy flavor was delicious, and I think the added spice took this ramen up a notch. The protein choices for KoFusion’s ramen are tofu, pork belly, or shrimp. I picked pork belly, and it was quite the portion of pork belly on top of my ramen. The pork belly was crispy and not really fatty like I’m used to, but it had a great flavor. The ramen was such a big entree that I took half of it home as leftovers, so I highly recommend this dish if you want to have a warm, filling meal.

An overhead photo shows three white rectangular plates with three different rolls. Beside those is a small, black plate with a single piece of nigiri salmon. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Next, I ordered the big roll ($10.95) and spicy tuna roll ($12.95), and my friend ordered the top roll, a volcano roll. The big roll is a favorite of ours because it’s a deep-fried roll. With crab, tamago, avocado, cream cheese, spicy mayo, and unagi sauce, this roll is so delicious. It’s creamy and so very good. The spicy tuna roll is a classic, and the roll had high quality red tuna and topped with a drop of spicy mayo. I also tried a nigiri salmon ($3.50) because I love the flavor and texture of raw salmon, and this nigiri at KoFusion was heavenly.

In the dining room, there are several empty tables with black chairs on a marble floor in the new KoFusion location in Downtown Champaign. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

KoFusion is known for their sushi, and when I typed up my first visit, I didn’t feel like I represented the sushi offerings at KoFusion as best as I could have. So I asked my husband (whose favorite food is sushi) to join me for a second visit with a plan to show you, dear reader, more of the rolls you can get at KoFusion.

On a gray speckled table, there is a bright lime green cocktail in a martini glass. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Since I liked the mango go go drink, I ordered a green dragon ($10). Made with coconut rum, Midori melon, and pineapple juice, this was a very sweet drink. It tasted like green Kool-Aid. The bright green color from the Midori is a fun color. This is another cocktail in which I couldn’t taste the alcohol, but I could enjoy the sweet drink.

On a gray speckled table in an empty dining room, there is a dark red cocktail with ice. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

My husband ordered the blackberry ginger refresher ($11), and I think this is the best drink I tried at KoFusion. Made with bourbon, blackberry puree, vermouth, ginger beer, and lime, this cocktail was a fancy adult beverage. The herby flavor of the vermouth paired well with the ginger beer. The first taste in this drink was the bourbon, a very up-front identifiable Buffalo Trace bourbon taste which was immediately followed by a fruity, floral flavor from the blackberry and vermouth. I loved this drink.

On a circular ceramic plate with white rings, there is a parchment paper with four fried dumplings and a small cup of dipping sauce. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The pork dumplings appetizer ($11) had four dumplings which were full of crumbled pork, cubed potato, onion, and minced mushroom with chives. I wish the dipping bowl was deeper. Since it was shallow, each dip of the dumpling barely covered the tip of the dumpling, so multiple dips were required. The flavors were pretty good, but for almost $3 a dumpling, I’m not sure these were worth the price.

On a gray speckled table, there are four long white trays with a sushi roll on each. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

And now for the sushi. We ordered four rolls: fusion maki roll, crunch roll, spicy salmon roll, and (of course) the big roll. My husband dipped his sushi in the provided soy sauce, and after one bite, he declared that there was something special about the soy sauce. He was so convinced it was better than the standard Kikkoman brand soy sauce that he asked the server, and our server told us, yes, KoFusion does make their own soy sauce in house with soy, mirin, rice wine vinegar, and fish sauce. It was definitely a step up from the usual soy sauce. I’m not sure how common made-in-house soy sauce is, but this soy sauce slaps. 

On a white tray, there is a fried sushi roll drizzled with two sauces. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The fusion maki roll ($16.95) was a splurge roll at about the same price as my pork belly ramen dish. Made with crab, spicy tuna, avocado, spicy mayo, and unagi sauce, this roll is a fried roll, so the whole roll was battered and then fried. This roll was mindblowingly good. Each bite was a humongous bite that was warm and creamy on the inside. The big bite of mostly rice reminded me of arancini, and I think it is a great Asian-fusion version of the Italian fried rice ball. The fried batter was light and crisp, and it covered three quarters of the roll, so there was quite a satisfying crunch to every bite of this roll. 

On overhead photo shows a sushi roll topped with orange crunchies in a long white rectangular dish on a speckled gray table. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The crunch roll ($13.95) was topped with cashews (those with nut allergies, talk to your server!) and tempura crunch and filled on the inside with spicy tuna, masago, spicy mustard, and a chili sauce. This roll was wonderfully spicy with a great heat that lingered; it wasn’t a sharp spiciness but a pleasant, building hotness. KoFusion’s crunch roll has everything I could want in a roll: fresh fish, sauce, and crunchies. 

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The spicy salmon roll ($9.95) is the cheapest roll on the menu. I wanted to order it to show that not all the rolls are inching toward the $20 price point. This simple roll was yummy. I happen to love salmon, though, and if you haven’t tried raw salmon, I think it’s a lovely starter for raw fish because of its silky texture and amazing flavor. This spicy salmon roll was basic but wicked good.

On a long white rectangular plate, there is a fried sushi roll with drizzles of sauce on it. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Lastly, I had to have the big roll ($10.95). It was so freaking delicious and creamy with avocado and cream cheese — plus it’s one of the cheapest rolls on the sushi menu. Each bite is a big mouthful, hence the name of the roll. The egg gave a unique texture and great taste to the roll. With its signature crispy exterior and two saucy drizzles, the big roll was as tasty as the last time I had it. This is the only roll that I have to have when I’m at KoFusion; it’s just that good.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

There was an abundance of open tables at KoFusion. This would be a great place for groups, and there were lots of tables on the covered porch in addition to the many tables inside. 

There is some free parking in a gated lot beside the newly painted white building, and you receive a token from your server which lets you exit the lot at no cost. 

Yes, KoFusion is expensive — and there are no specials for lunch or dollar sushi at this location — but I think it’s good that we have some nice places in C-U for an upscale meal. If you want to impress someone or you want to treat yourself, KoFusion is an elegant spot to dine in Downtown Champaign. The sushi is exceptional, and if you’re not into sushi, the rest of the menu has great tasting entrees and apps. Just be ready to drop some cash when you go.

The author's lunch at the new KoFusion in Downtown Champaign has three white rectangular plates of sushi rolls, three ginger cocktails, and a big bowl of ramen on a gray table. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

30 E Main St
M-Th 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
F-Su 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.

Food + Drink Editor

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