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Koi Dessert Bar, Chippendale

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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 –

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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.

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This is the Nomtella ($9) with espresso mousse, salted car­a­mel, hazel­nut and chocol­ate brownie.

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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.

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And finally, the pret­ti­est of the three. This is the Coconut Kalamansi ($9) with coconut mousse, kala­mansi curd and chocol­ate sable.

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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.

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On a second vis­it, the offer­ing has changed almost com­pletely. This is the French Earl Grey Pannacotta ($12) with but­ter­milk and sea­son­al fruits.

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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.

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Back to the cakes, though, is the Guava ($9) with guava mousse, straw­berry and basil.

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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.

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This is the Mango Yuzu ($9), a mango mousse with yuzu curd and salted almond sable.

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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.

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This is the Choc Pop Corn ($9) with bru­lee mousse, pop­corn, burnt but­ter jelly, chocol­ate covered hon­ey­comb and chocol­ate brownie.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.