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By Erina Starkey
February 04, 2016

KOI Dessert Bar

The MasterChef favourite comes good on his promise to bring a dessert bar to Sydney.
By Erina Starkey
February 04, 2016

The last time we saw Reynold Poernomo we had tears in our eyes. He had just seared a bonito fillet on both sides (what were you thinking, Reynold?!) which subsequently got him sacked from the MasterChef kitchen, and we all stopped watching the show. Or at least I did. Nine months on, Reynold has teamed up with his brothers Arnold and Ronald (yes, really) and come good on his promise to bring a dessert bar to Sydney. For anyone who has ever skimped on dinner to double down on desserts, this one's for you.

KOI is housed in a two-storey glass-walled building in the swish new Kensington Street precinct in Chippendale. Downstairs is a patisserie-style cafe with takeaway coffee and ready-made creations, while upstairs is a sleek contemporary dining room, with tufted leather booths and a black minimalistic aesthetic. His big bro Arnold, a former judge on Indonesian MasterChef, oversees the savoury fare while other brother Ronald does cocktails and Reynold does dessert.

But before you pick up the spoon, you need to choose from three dining options. The most popular is the six-course degustation ($77), which consists of three savoury and three sweet dishes. Sounds like a fair ratio to me. Indonesian cuisine in Australia is often centred around street food and the homely and comforting, hence Arnold has chosen to share a more sophisticated version of his native cuisine. Dishes include a single compressed tomato slice topped with sambal and an artistic coil of prawn cracker, and a fragrant white curry with poached chicken breast, scattered with toasted nuts and grains in a rich warm coconut velouté. From the sweet side of the menu, Reynold creates a rather magnificent chocolate sphere atop chocolate and almond soil. Splice it open and you'll find frothy chocolate mousse and — *gasp* — an oozing raspberry gel in its core (*round of applause*).

The second menu option is the degustation of three desserts ($60), where Reynold is really given the opportunity to flex his bulging dessert muscles. Some more experimental options abound here, including a coconut pannacotta with black sesame sea sponge and the famed hot and cold coconut, which MasterChef buffs will recognise as the perfect-scoring dessert from the show. Unfortunately the set menus are inflexible and you can't substitute one dessert for another. The only way you can eat both the chocolate sphere and the hot and cold coconut is if its Valentines Day, you're single and you order both menus.

The third option is the ready-made desserts in the glass counter downstairs. The selection is much more wondrous than your usual patisserie shop éclairs, with futuristic shapes and fancy filigree. There's a glossy pink capsule — named the Strawberry Pillow ($9) — made from strawberry mousse, lychee gel on a salted almond sable which tastes pleasantly of fro-yo, but the real show stopper is the slime-green domed Mango Yuzu; filled with mango mousse and a tart, punchy yuzu custard, it hits you like an exhilarating slap in the face ($9).  If Gary, Matt and George were here right now, I don't doubt they would have a 10/10 scorecard in their hands.

Images: Bodhi Liggett

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