KOI was probably the most happening restaurant on Kensington street that Sunday night. People spilled out onto the Astroturf lawns with a selection of pre-made cakes. Although we had a late booking at 8:30 pm front of house was incredibly accommodating when we showed up an hour early. We were promptly led upstairs to a much more restrained dining room. There was a pleasant buzz in the air as it was filled mostly with couples doing an early Valentines from the looks of things.
After a brief look at the drinks menu, I settled on a peppermint tea. I figured that it would help settle my stomach between sweets. I really would have appreciated a slightly more exciting tea menu that goes beyond the classics. If there was an oolong or more herbals I might have ordered that instead. On the other side of the spectrum, my dining companions both enjoyed the mandarin and blood orange with a torched meringue on top. The torched meringue was an interesting touch! We weren’t sure whether to mix it in with the drink or have it separately. Both were fairly delicious. After mixing it was surprisingly easy to drink.
Lemongrab: Lemon curd, lemon jam with brown butter almond, lemon sorbet and herbal lemon meringue and lemon balm. The light citrusy flavours of this dish made it the perfect way to start. A delicate lemon curd was hidden within the meringue. Usually, I’m one to prefer a sour punch with my lemon desserts. The sour factor was definitely on the mellow side, but the combination of textures and temperatures did not leave me wanting in the slightest.
Moss: Pistachio mousse, caramel gel, white chocolate matcha dulce cremeux, pistachio sponge, matcha moss, apple blossom jelly, nitro lime and yogurt and green apple. There was another hidden surprise with this dish, as opening the chocolate sphere revealed a rich caramel. The flavour of pistachio was extremely prominent in the mousse. The sorbet and nitro lime kept things light and balanced. As an aside, the jelly was both gorgeous and delicately flavoured with jasmine. After trying this ‘Moss’ I can certainly see why it is one of their signature dishes.
Miso Sexy: Miso chocolate ganache with short bread, butterscotch gelato, caramel and chocolate tuile. On paper, this was certainly the most intriguing dish of the lot. We were initially apprehensive but the winning combinations that we had already sampled convinced us. It turns out that the miso flavour wasn’t particularly prominent. Instead, it added a hint of saltiness to the ganache. This was definitely the richest and most intense dessert of the lot. I was particularly taken with how crisp the short bread was and the delicate crisp tuile.
PP no AP: BBQ pineapple with coconut marshmallow, pineapple jelly, pineapple sorbet, brown butter crumbs, lime gel and kaffir lime cup. This is actually a photo of my friend’s dish because my kaffir lime cup started wilting as soon as it was placed in front of me! Actually, I’m not all too sure what the cup is made of, I was half expecting chocolate after seeing it droop, but the lack of creaminess of strong kaffir lime flavour point to something else. The BBQ pineapple and kaffic lime flavour were both very strong in this, reminding me of a trip to the tropics and balmy nights on the beach. The return to slightly lighter flavours was very welcoming after the heavy chocolate dish earlier.
Perhaps it’s my love of desserts, but KOI was probably my favourite meal this Sydney trip. Everything from the names of the desserts to their execution was fun and quirky. However, the dark and mature surrounds exuded a classy vibe. Although some may gripe about how expensive it is for just desserts, considering that a dessert of this calibre at any fine dining restaurant will typically be at least $20 the pricing is in line with the rest of the dining scene. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, just plunge straight into the dessert degustation and don’t think twice.