It was a cold and windy night as I stepped out of the car and made my way to the warm, glowing dining room of KoFusion in Downtown Champaign. As my husband and I crossed threshold we were happy to see that we had made it right before the dinner rush. We requested a booth and were seated at the far end of the dining room, which boosted a complete view of the front of the house. I glanced around at the décor as I began to go over the menu. The tables and chairs, as well as the bar and sushi bar are contemporary in style. I especially love the waves of color changing lights that adorn the ceiling. They also have a long, lighted fish tank that runs through the middle of the dining room. In the back there is a banquet room for parties of up to 50 people.

I can recall when KoFusion was newly opened and the town was buzzing about the "big city" restaurant downtown. I remember walking in and being dazzled by all the blue lights and contemporary decor. This popular sushi spot has been a part of our dining community for 15 years and counting.

As I looked over the menu I realized that it hadn't changed much since my first visit. I was delighted by this because it meant my favorite udon noodle stir-fry was still on the menu. We selected our entrees and now it was on to the dollar sushi menu and appetizer selection. The menu offers 10 different kinds of Japanese style sushi, two appetizers, and drink specials. It’s available only on Sunday and Monday evenings.

We chose the pan-seared shrimp and pork dumplings ($3) and four kinds of sushi, beef, spicy crab, volcano, and dynamite ($1 each). For our main dishes we chose off of the regular menu. I got the udon noodle stir fry with angus steak for $17 and my husband got the Pacific Halibut for $29. The knowledgeable and friendly waitress took our order and within just a few minutes the dumplings were brought out to the table.

I found the dough to be a bit dry but the filling was flavorful and well seasoned. Next out was the plate of sushi. I have always thought of sushi as little pieces of art and the sushi at KoFusion is no exception. The portion sizes of the dollar sushi are smaller, but they are packed with flavor. The beef sushi was smokey and tender, the volcano was the mildest of the four, the dynamite lived up to its name by being the most spicy, and finally the spicy crab was creamy and fresh with a little spicy kick.

After the sushi plate was devoured, our entrees were brought out in all their steaming glory. I just have to reiterate how quickly we got our food — it was quite impressive. The udon noodle stir fry was a hearty bowl of mixed veggies, slices of Angus beef, and perfectly cooked udon noodles. I requested it to be spicy so it also had little flecks of colorful red chilies in the sauce. The spice level was just right: not so spicy that it made me sweat, but I could still feel the spicy heat on my tongue. The angus beef was tender and well seasoned, and the veggies had a nice snap as I bit into them.

The Pacific halibut was a thing of pure beauty. The glistening fish was fall apart tender and had a gorgeous golden sear on the outside. It was served with a mix of vibrantly green bok choy, delicate maitake mushrooms, sweet sautéed onions, sliced zucchini, and fluffy potatoes. It was all served with a white soy and decadent sherry butter. It truly was a mouthwatering masterpiece.

As our delicious dining experience came to an end I wrestled with the idea of dessert. The dessert menu had some extremely scrumptious looking choices, but I was too full from the hearty entrée. (I even had leftovers to take home.) I can’t wait to go back and have some creme brûlée, or maybe I’ll try the cheesecake. It’ll definitely be a tough choice.

The atmosphere at KoFusion is sophisticated while still being fun and family friendly. The food is made with high quality ingredients and the dishes are masterfully executed by the talented chef. I’ve been a frequent diner at this local gem for years, and will be for years to come.

KoFusion is located at 1 East Main Street, Champaign, and open Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

All photos by Rebecca Wells.