Like a fine jewellery case nestled in the new Kensington St. creative district of Chippendale, Koi’s chic, modern, glass exterior is a stage for one of Sydney’s most innovative confectioners. Guided by the vision of Masterchef celeb Reynold Poernomo and his brother Arnold, Koi Dessert Bar has arguably already established itself as the high bar for sweet creations in Sydney.
As one of the bookends to the popular Spice Alley, and just around the corner from one of our favourite cafes KS Glider, Koi is perfectly positioned to lure in the sweet tooths as they spill out of the alley looking for an upscale ending to their street food fare. With a combination of relaxed, open space on the ground level, and a more refined dessert dining experience upstairs, Koi offers up a refreshing balance of atmospheres as the backdrop to the artfully sweet creations.
The kitchen is abuzz with sweet artistic wizardry of the Poernomo brothers and the Koi staff, as we slide into line to make our first tasting slections. It’s a bit of a tense moment as we work our way closer to the actual dessert display and have to not only digest the creations on offer, but make the impossible choice.
Fellow Coco & Viner Sonia and I make our first round of selections by opting for the darkly decadent Mookie and the delightfully delicate Strawberry Pillow.
The Mookie has a luscious coating of smooth, dark chocolate that is so shiny you could use it as a mirror. It’s that attention to perfection that sets these desserts apart. We’ve all said it before, “…it looks too good to eat…”, and at Koi, that really is the case! Cutting into the Mookie might hurt your aethestic sensibility, but that pain quickly fades as the rich, light, and gooey goodness of chocolate ganache with a flowing raspberry centre is revealed. The tastes are refined and well paired, and perhaps most notable, is the restraint in sugar that yields a sweetness that allows the primary flavours to take centre stage. Sit all of this carefully contrived concoction atop a crunchy cookie base and you have a Mookie that is worthy of the gold glitter that adorns it.
The Strawberry Pillow holds its own against the Mookie, with an equally impressive strawberry coating, which gives way to a fluffy strawberry mousse that suspends actual pieces of strawberry and lychee. Again, the sweetness is not overpowering and lets their subtle flavours shine through. Adding a perfect complement, the light cookie-style base provides a contrasting texture that make this pillow-light dessert so satisfying.
Breaking between the next round of desserts (yes we are going to be particularly naughty today and use up our week’s treat quota at Koi) we order a cappuccino and a mocha to prepare our palettes for the next decadent onslaught. The cappuccino is as smooth as the mousse in the desserts and has a rich, light, and complex flavour profile that perfectly accompanies its companion confections. The mocha is obviously a little sweeter, but just as enjoyable. If you’re going big on the desserts during your visit, my recommendation would be to stick with the less sweet beverage options, so the sweetness of the desserts can do their magic.
OK, here we go, round two! The Passionfruit Panna Cotta is an example of simple sublimeness. Served in a charming jar that allows you to clearly see its construction, the layers of light panna cotta topped with the tartly sweet and citrusy passionfruit coulis, make this perfection on a warm, sunny afternoon, while sitting amongst the other Koi devotees around the grassy area out front.
This little beauty is a joy to behold, if the other desserts were hard to cut into, this one takes the cake… sorry ;-). You know what else takes the cake? We initially didn’t know its name. We rescued it from its glass cage as the last of the litter and somewhere in the melee of last orders we did not get its given name… Thanks to our sleuthy in-house cafe grandmaster, Sacha, we can give this poor orphan its rightful title of Coconut and Kalamansi Mousse. Aside from its stunning appearance, the flavours of coconut and citrus exude as you explore the egg-like centre. Once again, it’s all about a delicate and refined dessert experience that Reynold has achieved so expertly.
Koi Dessert Bar in Chippendale is a testament to Sydney’s ever increasing prowess as a world leader in the culinary arts. The mastery exhibited in the presentation of Koi’s delectable designs is matched by the sophisticated flavour experiences that have been carefully cultivated to take us on a journey to the pinnacle of the confectioner’s art, while still making it accessible to all. The balance of whimsy, fun, fantasy, and fine dining has been struck perfectly and Sydney is all the better for it.