The owners of KOI Dessert have just opened a bar in Chippendale.
Acting as a gateway to the aromas of Spice Alley, Monkey’s Corner is a sophisticated, minimalistic cocktail bar that draws inspiration from a family appreciation of modern Asian cuisine. The Poernomo family, consisting of Reynold, Arnold and Ronald, have taken away the sweet stuff from their famed KOI Dessert Bar and crafted a refreshing list of cocktails designed to share with a simple food menu.
Referred to by their mum as “three little monkeys”, the Poernomo brothers have reimagined the heritage listed terrace house on the corner of Chippendale’s Spice Alley. Housing enough seats for only 20, Monkey’s Corner’s permeates its casual and clean atmosphere over three areas: a timber table hangout on Kensington Street, a cosy indoor dining room in view of the tight kitchen and a bar.
We take a seat at the site of the main event, sharing the intimate four seater bar. We are in for a treat, watching the shaken and stirred creations being whisked and poured before us. The drinks menu is abundant, but we are drawn to the list of ten inventive, yet refined, cocktails (all $19).
Topped with a dulcet strawberry foam, the Geisha is a gorgeous citrus combination of Umsehu, a Japanese liqueur, and the subtly sour Korean citrus, yuzu. We pair the Geisha with the Pandan Ginger Pisco Sour. The usually sweet pandan, is complimented by a refreshing pop of ginger and strong brandy-inspired pisco.
Don’t worry about getting caught in the rain. The velvety blend of pineapple whiskey, coco lopez and a hint of bitters, the Okinawa Colada reinvigorates the classic Pina Colado. Reinventing another cocktail favourite, the Green Tea Margarita is a divine palate cleansing mix of Calle 23 blanco, passion fruit and, of course, green tea.
Although, drinks are at the centre of the Monkey’s Corner experience, the Poernomo brothers have noticed that Sydneysiders are visiting Monkey’s Corner for its collection of affordable share plates. Drowned in lime juice, beef fat and chives, thin slices of Ox tongue ($14.50) are a chewy delight.
Pull apart the imposing Kingfish collar ($15). The buttery Kingfish flesh is infused with seven Japanese spices encased in the nose-watering shichimi.
For the vegetarians, kernels of sweet corn ($8) pop to life thanks to the funky addition of popcorn and red chilli gochujang. Only served on weekends, the rice bowls ($9.50-$13) may look cute but they pack a punch. Our choice of spicy trout belly is the perfect accompaniment to the mound of steamed rice.
If you aren’t tempted by KOI across the road, Monkey’s Corner offers one dessert plate, KOI Bobba ($12.50). Sweet with tangy spice, the ball of salted coconut ice cream is the majestic partner to a smooth moose-like Thai tea cream and the accompanying hazelnut sponge and freeze dried mandarin.
For the lovers of devilish desserts, return to the cocktail list. The Banana Milk Punch Fizz, is a hit and a kick of Banana Michter’s Sour Mash with a pleasantly creamy aftertaste. Jump on the Bubble Tea craze with Drunken & Yuanyang. Finished with tiramisu foam, the Plantation Dark and Islay Whisky blend isn’t for the faint hearted.
Monkey’s Corner is a far cry from the family-friendly affair the Poernomo brothers have mastered at KOI. Forget fighting for the attention of the bartender, and bathe in the twisted traditionalism emitted from the terrace walls at Monkey’s Corner. Whether you want to spice up date night or your palate, Monkey’s Corner is here.
40 Kensington Street, Chippendale
(02) 9212 2085
Open: Tues-Fri 5pm-11pm, Sat-Sun 12pm-11pm