Review: Koi Dessert Bar brings Asian flavours to a sweet and savoury degustation – Chippendale (Sydney)

Delectable desserts with Asian influences are at the forefront of Chippendale’s Koi Dessert BarReynold Poernomo of Masterchef fame along with his brothers Arnold and Ronald opened the dessert bar on Kensington Street. A food destination in its own right, the street has quickly become one of the most exciting precincts in the inner city, dotted with cafes, restaurants, and dessert bars.

Downstairs ready-made desserts are paired with coffee (or my preference is to take them away), but upstairs it’s a sit-down affair with set menus. A four-course set dessert sets you back $65 and the six-course set dinner $77 in the dining room. As expected there are a tonne of Asian flavours built into the fusion menu.

While Reynold is at the helm for desserts, Arnold who also hails from the Masterchef world as a judge on the Indonesian show has devised the savoury dishes. Meanwhile, Ronald has taken charge of the cocktail menu.

For a pre-dinner tipple, I order the Gotta Have Espresso Tini ($18), a blend of vanilla vodka, Licor 43, espresso, mirin, and maple syrup.  But our culinary journey begins with two rustic-looking rolls that are introduced as bread but taste like brioche. The fluffy rolls are served with a good smidge of whipped butter.

The first course, simply titled Yolk, is a bowl of egg yolk, dashi risotto, roasted konbu, onion, and tobiko veloute. The custardy egg yolk has been slow-cooked and is indeed the star of this starting dish. The risotto is perfectly al dente, intensified by salty pops of tobiko.

Next up is the Mackerel, a slender piece of seared mackerel, tamarind, puffed rice, garlic chips, togarashi, and seaweed. Bursting with super savoury flavours, there’s a lot to love here. Dipping the mackerel in the powdery seaweed is particularly satisfying. But my favourite element is the garlic chips because they remind me of Indonesian cuisine right away.

The last of the savoury courses is the Quail, described as marinated quail, carrot tops, carrot puree, mixed mushrooms, and duck liver puree. While the duck liver puree is more of a sauce, this is probably my favourite out of the savoury courses. The mushrooms and the duck liver are rich and punchy, but the carrot puree balances the dish with a bit of sweetness.

We dabble into the sweet territory of our dinner with Plums, written on the menu as Heilala vanilla mousse with plums, yuzu gel, yoghurt sorbet, and almond crumble. It’s not so much a mousse and more of a parfait, but I’m not complaining because I’m a big fan of parfaits. All the details work well together, bringing bursts of tart citrus and tangy yoghurt to the sweet and creamy vanilla.

Paying homage to the Indonesian dessert bika ambon, the second dessert Bika is one for the chocoholics. A spongey cocoa bika ambon is served with tonka bean ice cream, yoghurt gel, soil, salted caramel gel, and aerated chocolate. What’s missing for me here is an element of crunch, but otherwise it’s a decent dish with a clever reference to Indonesian sweets.

The final dish is also the highlight for me. Digressing from the previously short names, The apple of my eye (headline image) is a striking take on the apple crumble and in my books the perfect kind of dessert. The menu reads: charred poached apples with dulce, green apple sorbet, oat crumble, lemongrass oil, caramelised apple skin, and almond tuile. I’m pleasantly surprised by how delicious the caramelised apple skin is and how paper thin the almond tuile is.

There aren’t many degustations under the $100 mark in Sydney, but at Koi Dessert Bar the Asian fusion set menus fit into that category, all the while plating up beautifully presented food with balanced flavours.

Koi Dessert Bar
Address: 46 Kensington St, Chippendale NSW 2008
Website: http://www.koidessertbar.com.au/
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday
Cakes and Coffee 10am to 10pm
Dinner 6pm to 9:30pm