If you’re a Masterchef fanatic like me, you’ll know exactly who Reynold Poernomo is. You should also have seen his name pop up left right and centre in the recent years, from the dessert degustation pop up to a T2 partnership and finally the BFG campaign menu.
Reynold is one of the examples that show that you don’t need to win MasterChef to find foodie success.
I could spend all day fawning about all the ex-Masterchef contestants but I’ll save you the fan girl guff and get on with the restaurant review.
KOI Dessert Bar is located conveniently close to Central station – about a ten minute walk from the bus stops and towards Central Park Mall.
The restaurant doubles as a cafe/shopfront. Downstairs they sell take away cakes and treats and presumably coffees and teas. Upstairs is where they serve the dinner or dessert set menu depending on which you please. Although I love a good dessert, I’m not partial to sweets overall so I was a little hesitant to look at the 3 courses of back to back desserts as well as the quality of savoury dishes from the so called “Dessert King”, either way I was curious.
|Confit Octopus & Coconut|
The first dish wasn’t necessarily the most pretty dish in the world but goodness me was it fragrant. Fresh aromas of herbs and earthy coconut scents emerged from the little bowl before us.
On first bite the octopus was delicate and light and retained its ‘octopu-ish’ flavour without being too rubbery. The coconut milk was slight and just enough to whet the octopus meat. The flavour was very reminiscent of a tom yum and had a combination of sour and freshness that finished with a small kick. A nice start to the meal and things to come.
|Duck breast with beetroot and celeriac|
The minute the entree hit the table we were in awe with how beautifully it was plated. The contrast of the rich beetroot amongst the earthy tones of the duck breast and celeriac was astounding. There was also a sprinkle of pure white duckfat crumble served on top to match the colour of the plate.
Apart from being visually stunning, this dish was also incredibly delicious and rich.
The duck was cooked beautifully. It was tender and rich in flavour. Add a little bit of the crumb and you’re in duck heaven. The beetroot sauce was a gorgeously dark burgundy and had an intense beetroot flavour that, when combined with the celeriac, contrasted and cut through the richness of the duck with a fresh zing.
|Riverine Flat Iron Steak with Charred eggplant puree, mushrooms and olives|
My heart dropped when I read the words ‘eggplant puree’. If there is any other nemesis in the world I distaste more than chunks of onion, its eggplant. Don’t get me wrong, I will always try it if its in any dish or if a friend is desperately trying to convince me with “trust me you’ll like it this time”. Alas, each time I’m saddened with the taste of a eggplant permeating my senses.
The dish arrived in a rustic fashion with generous pieces of pork laid across a bed of what I think was parsnip puree, like the fanciest “meat and 3 veg” you’ve ever seen.
The beef was cooked at a very reasonable medium,.I was dining with some ‘well done only’ diners that evening (I know…why, right?!) and even they found it enjoyable.
The beef was so tender and juicy it was certainly a celebration of both the quality of Australian Beef and a typically unpopular cut of beef.
Remember how I was saying I hate eggplant? Well the sauce (that claimed to have eggplant in it) was wonderful! It had a mixture of herbs along with a distinct but not overwhelming olive flavour that added a slight saltiness to the dish and if eggplant was in it, then that was good too.
Although other vegetables was accompanied the dish, they weren’t necessarily notable to say the least. The puree was smooth, the kale crunchy and the radish well… fresh?
Overall though, my favourite dish of the night.
|Chefs Special: Smoked Kingfish with Yuzu Curd and Dashi|
On the evening we dined, I couldn’t say no to the smoked kingfish that was an additional course you could add to the menu.
The kingfish was beautifully seared on the edges bringing out the smoky flavour of the fish.
The Yuzu curd brought out the sweetness in the fresh kingfish whereas the creamy dashi added an umami coat on your tastebuds. However together, the yuzu and dashi tended to be fighting for control of flavour.
Overall, a fresh and light dish which in turn worked nicely as a palate cleaner to end the savoury dishes.
The onslaught of desserts started with an elegant and very pretty looking apple caramel, The flavours were distinct with the caramel presented in various forms with pops of fresh crisp apple throughout.
The simplicity of the dish is what won the table over. Although it was a sweet start it wasn’t overwhelming – my favourite kind of dessert.
The Miss Tira was the KOI rendition of a tirimasu. All the best elements taken apart and redesigned in a new and exciting way. Blobs of coffee jelly scattered the creamy marscapone and covered with a chocolate dusting and honeycomb.
The complexities of different textures were beautiful and kept every bite different in its own way. However I was a little disappointed that it didn’t quite encompass that beautiful tirimasu flavour; both lacking in coffee and a little bit of that sponge texture that grounds the dish. Still pretty though I guess.
Of course we couldn’t look past getting a little bit of Moss in our life; the signature dish of KOI Dessert Bar.
As beautiful as ever and almost left us feeling starstruck. By now this dish is practically a celebrity.
Personally, it wasn’t my cup of tea. The dish was overall quite on all fronts – from the caramel, sponge and yoghurt pebbles. My palate struggled to find relief in the intense sweetness that was only slightly present through the subtle bitterness of the matcha shell.
Overall, yes beautiful, but not for me.
I don’t know if the restaurant has a crockery fetish but this plate alone (without the food on it) was just to die for. It was so beautiful it almost stole the stole from the dish. Almost.
The best thing about this particular dish was the contrast of the earthy colours against the cool grey of the plate. The burnt tips of the meringue curls were beautiful, a rogue contrast amongst the delicate segments of citrus.
I thought the idea of winter citrus was fulfilled with the sharp tanginess of segments of bergamont orange alongside the coolness of the sorbet. The meringue brought an almost campfire sense to the dish and tied everything together as a sturdy base. Very nice and very elegant overall.
KOI Dessert bar is renown for their desserts. I went in knowing that fact otherwise it wouldn’t be in the name. However, I didn’t realize I would leave loving the savoury dishes much, much more. I may be biased as I prefer savoury over sweet on a normal day, but honestly the dishes truly surprised me.
The price for a set dinner is well worth its money going for about $77 per person for six courses, each at high quality fine dining standard.
I think it’s certainly worth a visit if you’re a sweet tooth, even just for some takeaway cakes downstairs, and for the savoury lovers to try out the set menu.
Looking forward to see this little restaurant grow and develop over the next few years.
Written by Jay Santiago (@the.eatventures)