With the array of wonderful food choices in Sydney it can sometimes be difficult making return visits to those that are extra spectacular. So when Ms London was back in town, we absolutely had to take her to Koi as she loves her Japanese food. The fact that she is also an avid photographer meant that I knew I wouldn’t be the only one taking photos of the beautifully presented food on their rustic plates. Yes, friends can serve so many purposes aside from providing enjoyable company.
With us being firmly ensconced in summer, I get a better appreciation of Koi’s entrance compared to our last visit in the darkness of winter. The pair of stone lions at the doorway seem less menacing but the daylight doesn’t take anything away from the dark wooden interiors under their soft, warm lighting.
Our square table in the corner has a beautiful floral centrepiece and we start our evening, as we did on our previous occasion, with ‘Seared scallop carpaccio with soy butter.’ The fragrance of butter drifts up to us and we dig into the scallop slices with their smoky seared surfaces and decoration of salmon roe and snipped chives.
This is followed by the ‘Tuna Tartare’ presented in a martini glass. A gentle prod of the egg and golden yolk is released from its centre to coat the springy tuna ‘mince’ in a lather of creamy, sticky goodness. The caviar on top provides some salty and almost crunchy contrast but this is a dish which we discover is rather hard to share!
There is no chutoro nor ootoro available when we enquire and Ms London orders the ‘Whiting usuzukuri with ponzu sauce’ instead. It is something that neither Monsieur Poisson nor I are familiar with and we are met with thin, almost translucent, slices of whiting arranged in a radial pattern. With a squirt of lemon and a quick dip into the ponzu, the thin yet firm flesh of the whiting is sublimely refreshing.
And because we are greedy, we order the ‘Large mixed sashimi’ (21 pieces) even though there are only the three of us. A long wooden plank makes for a dramatic entrance and Ms London and I snap away with our cameras in a flurry. Closest to my end is the snapper arranged as a rose petal atop a slice of lemon, followed by oyster with ponzu, kingfish and salmon before the intricate centrepiece of cuttlefish pinwheeled on top of a lime. The cuttlefish is sliced so thinly that it takes on an almost creamy texture.
The other end of the wooden plank plays host to sashimi of tuna, bonito, scampi, seared scallop arranged on a slice of lime, and cod. The lime and lemon which support several sashimi arrangements impart a subtle fragrance without their tartness dominating the fish in flavour.
Our gluttony is followed by my husband’s favourite uni sashimi which arrives atop a thick slice of grapefruit with half the peel pared back and tucked back on itself. It’s still not my favourite thing but I trust Monsieur Poisson and Ms London when they say it is fresh, creamy and sweet.
We then finally move onto our warm dishes of the meal with ‘Miso grilled silver cod’ which has a sweet miso ‘crust’ balanced by the peppery side salad of baby rocket dressed with an apple-y vinairgrette and sweet, stuffed zucchini flowers.
This is followed by our soft-shell crab roll which is served warm with a filling of finely shredded cucumber, avocado, tobiko and mayonnaise.
We decide that we can, indeed, squeeze in dessert and this is preceded by a palate cleanser of watermelon granita with chamomile and citrus foam. Oh, how I could just eat more of this as an actual dessert! So refreshing and fragrant and perfect for the season.
We order three desserts; all of which must be different of course. The ‘Single bean chocolate marquise’ is served with a sesame tuille which is chewy and nutty but not crisp or crunchy as we expect. Short rounds of coconut pudding adorn the plate with a texture akin to pannacotta and reminds us of the coconut pudding/jelly which is often seen at yumcha.
The ‘Macadamia cake with salted caramel mousse and wattleseed honey ice-cream’ is unfortunately the least attractive of the three desserts chosen and is very brown to photograph. However the cake is dense with a fine nubbly texture and is great with the wattleseed honey ice-cream and its smoky, charred flavour. The revelation is the salted caramel mousse which reminds both Ms London and Monsieur Poisson of Columbines!
I, of course, order the ‘White peach soufflé’ which is served in a copper pot and a side of raspberry sorbet. The soufflé is thinly crusty on top and is marshmallowy in the centre with the subtle flavours of white peach.
Full to the brim and feeling very happy with our efforts, no meal is complete at Koi without their complimentary fish-shaped chocolates served on a chilled stone platter.
We chat a little more while our green tea is continually topped up. It is dark by the time we leave and we wander down the road in search of our cars with satisfied bellies, wondering when we’ll be back at Koi once again.
102 Woolwich Rd, Woolwich NSW
Tel: (02) 9817 6030
Opening Hours: Mon & Tues CLOSED
Wed 6pm-10pm (dinner only)
Thurs 12pm-3pm (lunch)
Fri & Sat 12pm-3pm (lunch)
Sun 12pm-3pm (lunch)
*EDIT*: As at mid-2011, Koi has been "temporarily closed" according to their voicemail message.