Koi Dessert Bar is the creation of Masterchef 2015 contestant and fourth-placed, Reynold Poernomo. Just seeing his desserts on TV was enough make anyone’s mouth water, so it’s great that you can now — well, for much of the last 12 months — treat not only your eyes, but also your taste buds to his creations. Located in the trendy area that is Kensington Street, I’m a little surprised it took me so long to visit. One of the greatest joys of visiting with more people on multiple occasions is it increases the types of cakes to try. And over 6 months, I enjoy quite a few –
This is the Matcha Strawberry ($9) with matcha mousse, strawberry and pistachio jaconde. The mousse is deceptively light with a mellow green tea flavour and minimal bitterness without being overly sweet, while strawberry slices and jelly added a fresh sweetness, which went well with the mousse and the fluffy jaconde.
This is the Nomtella ($9) with espresso mousse, salted caramel, hazelnut and chocolate brownie.
This looks good and it tastes amazing. The espresso mousse is beautifully smooth and rich in coffee flavour. The salted caramel centre is firm and packs a good punch of sweetness and saltiness to cut through the espresso, while the chocolate brownie creates a fudgy textural contrast to the mousse and salted caramel.
And finally, the prettiest of the three. This is the Coconut Kalamansi ($9) with coconut mousse, kalamansi curd and chocolate sable.
The kalamansi curd is the dominant flavour of this cake, delivering a deliciously tangy and sweet punch to the pleasantly mellow coconut mousse with the chocolate sable giving a much needed crunch to the softer textures of the cake. The cross-section kalamansi curd in the centre of the coconut mousse gives the impression of a beautiful egg.
On a second visit, the offering has changed almost completely. This is the French Earl Grey Pannacotta ($12) with buttermilk and seasonal fruits.
A concentrated Earl Grey flavour comes from the layer of jelly sitting atop the buttermilk pannacotta. The jelly is gelatinous compared to standard jelly, which creates too great a contrast in texture with the thick custard texture of pannacotta so that the two separate both in the jar and in your mouth. A softer jelly or a gel would’ve worked better. This particular dessert aside, I am not a fan of pannacotta generally — the thick custard texture is a dreaded mouthfeel for me that’s worse than tofu — but T genuinely enjoyed the texture and the flavour.
Back to the cakes, though, is the Guava ($9) with guava mousse, strawberry and basil.
A guava cake is new to me, and the tropical flavour of guava that’s somewhere between a strawberry and pear comes through beautifully from the first bite, with the strawberry and basil centre complementing well. Masterchef taught me that strawberry and basil are a match made in heaven, and here the basil enhances the oozy strawberry centre. The flavour appears fleetingly in the beginning before the strawberry comes through, although it’s less noticeable when eaten together with the guava mousse.
This is the Mango Yuzu ($9), a mango mousse with yuzu curd and salted almond sable.
Yuzu is my favourite citrus, and here the yuzu comes through as an uplifting sweet and zesty tail to each bite that starts off with the sweet tropical flavours of mango, which are enhanced by the bitter notes of the tempered dark chocolate.
This is Guava Raspberry ($9), a guava, raspberry and kalamansi mousse with a lychee rose centre.
All the cakes are pretty but this one takes the cake (pardon the pun!) with its gently rippled jewel-like surface. The smooth mousse has the tropical sweetness of guava and the acidity of raspberry, and more mellow notes of zesty kalamansi. The oozing lychee centre is a gel with a piece of fruit, bringing out the tropical notes of this cake beautifully.
This is the Choc Pop Corn ($9) with brulee mousse, popcorn, burnt butter jelly, chocolate covered honeycomb and chocolate brownie.
This is the richest cakes we’ve tried here. The brulee mousse is smooth in texture, but its flavour is so very rich and heavy in a way that leaves you thinking you can’t finish the cake by yourself; this is definitely one for sharing. The chocolate covered honeycomb added a delightful crunch to the cake, although it’s hardness also threatens to destroy the cake when cutting through, while the not-so-wobbly burnt butter jelly and the chewy brownie base gave much needed hints of bitterness to cut through the mousse. The popcorn promised in the description was nowhere to be found but there was the burnt butter jelly, which I wasn’t expecting.
This is the Strawberry Pillow ($9), a strawberry mousse with lychee jelly and almond sable. N and I had been wanting to try this for a while before getting our hands on it.
This is the ultimate in light and refreshing cakes. The mousse is super chilled compared to the other cakes, with the bright flavour of juicy and fresh strawberries made the more prominent with the layer of lychee jelly atop a lychee centre for that extra tropical kick. Fruit focused flavours are always a hit at Koi.
And finally, this is the White Peach & Earl Grey ($9). There’s no description for this cake provided, yet I’d venture to guess it’s a hazelnut base, followed by a chocolate ganache, earl grey sponge, white peach mousse, and rose and orange blossom jelly. The flavours are subtle. While notes of Earl Grey and rose come through and the pieces of white peach are visible in the mousse, the mousse itself carries little flavour of the white peach, leaving it tasting much like a regular cream mousse. The gorgeous quenelle tasted like cream and left us wanting more of the sweet, refreshing flavours of white peach.
Koi Dessert Bar is a delight for two very simple reasons. First, the cakes taste good, and second, every flavour in the description can be identified in the cake and is almost always done well. The second is more impressive than it appears, because I cannot tell you the number of times I have tried cakes that taste nothing like their description. Perhaps Reynold’s stint on Masterchef Australia 2015 helped because Matt, Gary and George would’ve eliminated him very early on if your food didn’t taste like what you said it should.
Koi Dessert Bar is at 46 Kensington St, Chippendale NSW 2008.