KOI Dessert Bar has grown up. It’s still KOI, but not as you know it.
Since opening in 2016, the Poernomo brothers still work closely together like a well oiled machine. Now, the revamp to Chippendale’s KOI has seen a focus on savoury, with Reynold working alongside Head Chef Alvin Susanto (ex Catalina & est.), introducing a new seasonal savoury degustation menu.
With the autumn menu now available at KOI Desert Bar and Dining, one this is for certain, it is hitting all the right notes. With a noticeable lack of Indonesian fine dining in Sydney, it comes as an exciting addition to the inner-city food scene. The autumn menu is flavourful, spicy and uniquely Indonesian.
The degustation starts with two dainty snacks both made with thin and crispy fine pastry. The first, a Bonito tartare pie tee, which is delicious but a little oily. That being said, the pie tee functions as the perfect vessel to the tasty filling. The second is a whipped kelp, roe and chive cigar. Then arrives the bread, which is notable, as it’s served toasted with tasty sambal butter.
When your eyes skim over the entrée, you would be forgiven for thinking you were getting a traditional curry, reading as pumpkin rendang, yoghurt, spiced pumpkin seeds and crisp fragrant curry leaves. When it arrives though, you’ll be quickly transported back to the late 90s and early 00s of molecular gastronomy.
While you may think this is stuck in the past, once you try it, all these thoughts vanish. Round soft balls of pumpkin are placed around the dish in-between yoghurt molecular spheres that when pierced, release the yoghurt around the bowl. The outstanding rendang curry sauce is hidden at the bottom of the dish, but once you take your first spoonful, the spice, flavour and sheer cleverness of it all all rush to you at once. It is an absolute delight to eat.
Next is grilled bonito, mussels, charred garlic puree, blush turnip and fingerlime and roe dressing. The fish is cooked perfectly with the mussels adorning its edges. The garlic puree and dressing immerse the fish but unfortunately the finger lime was lost.
Be sure to save room for the next course – braised short rib with puffed grains, pumpkin puree, enoki mushrooms, capsicum, sambal and beef jus. The short rib was braised to perfection, melting off the bone at the soft touch of a knife. Adding some necessary texture to the dish are puffed grains, while the enoki mushrooms are delightfully soft, along with the smooth pumpkin puree. A warning to the spice adverse, for hidden underneath the mushroom is a capsicum with a noticeably firey filling.
It wouldn’t be a KOI experience without some dessert, and so you’ll rest easy knowing there’s not one but two included in the degustation. The first is Binchotan, which means a type of charcoal. Served with jasmine tea gelato, black sesame, bbq pineapple, coconut, yuzu and charcoal meringue, the jasmine tea flavour of the gelato is nice, accentuated by a jasmine tea gel on the bottom. As for the bbq pineapple, it’s quite sticky and chewy with a black charcoal meringue served on top, which is where the name comes from.
The second dessert is Mon-Yet, which means ‘monkey’ in Indonesian, made with banana, dulce, Palmyra sugar cake, Valrhona Itakuja sorbet and caramel. This dish definitely hits the decadent quota, with the banana deep fried into a ball and the dark chocolate sorbet being exceedingly rich. Tying everything together is a delicious caramel and the sugar cake.
This degustation is a great addition to the Sydney dining scene, showcasing Indonesian cuisine at its very best. You can still simply opt for the dessert tasting menu, or even add it on to your meal. You can also find all your favourite sweets downstairs in the KOI Dessert Bar and with the casual setting.