Who would have thought that nestled in a basement somewhere on the corner of Oliver Ln and Flinders Ln is a vibrant award-winning restaurant. But hey, that’s the beauty of Melbourne’s food culture – there’s always a surprise somewhere anywhere. Coda is headed by trio team of Mykal and Kate Bartholomew and Executive Chef Adam D’Sylva (‘AGFG 2008 young chef of the year’). Together they have been satisfying Melbournians with tastes of Asian/Vietnamese fusion creation.
Place was quiet when we arrived but that’s because we went for their 1st dinner seating at 6pm. The place looks like an abandoned warehouse from the outside. The interior is none-the-less classy, dimly lit (not romantic but ‘funky cool’ dark) with cosy dining room and a tabletop bar that can sit up to 40 people. The one page menu was easy to browse ranging from small dishes to bigger ones and ends with sweet stuff. We were advised by the eager waitress that the dishes are for sharing so that means we will need to order double of each item in the small section. The spanner crab on betel leaves clearly evoked an explosion of South East Asian flavours. The juiciness of the spanner crab combined with zesty lime, aromatic roasted chilli and a sprinkle of pomelo is very mouth popping.
Yellow fin tuna salad was refreshingly chilled with chunky square tuna mixed with the sweet/saltiness of ponzu and sprinkled with roasted sesame seeds and greens. The saltiness of the ponzu however was quite overpowering. Unfortunately, for a $24 price tag, we thought it’s an overpriced effortless dish.
So far, 1 up and 1 down but it’s still too early to judge. I’m still clinging on to my hopes that the next dishes will be better than expected. Hervey Bay scallops arrived and we quickly dug into it – the creamy texture of the pearl tapioca dressing with the nicely seared juicy and plump scallops is delicious. Couple with the pop of the salmon caviar when eaten together is heavenly tasting.
I love steak tartare. Basically, a tartare is a meat dish made from finely chopped or minced raw beef (sometimes horse meat). It is often served with onions, capers, fresh ground pepper for seasoning and most of the time a dollop of raw egg yolk. The key to a delicious tartare comes from maintaining the original flavour of the meat and balancing the texture of the tartare between smooth and not paste looking. Therefore, it is essential to use fresh top quality meat to produce a tartare dish. The Steak tartare served here has definitely met the standards although it was served without the quail egg (we were told up front that they ran out of quail egg and they replaced that with a dollop of raw egg yolk). Nevertheless, still tastes good.
So now, we were back on track! When the visually delicious Beef ribs with kimchi was brought to us, we could totally imagine us sinking our teeths into those juicy ribs. Trying not to be rude, we stopped short of doing that. Beef ribs with kimchi – sweet savoury meat paired with cold sour vegetables? After my first bite, there is nothing to fault – the flavours work harmoniously together. The only problem that I have is that there are only 2 pieces of ribs – for sharing. I wish I could have more of that succulent ribs. *burp*
The Yellow duck curry is a huge flavour hit. Came with 2 roasted duck marylands indulged in thick dense yellow curry which is so intense and appetising when accompanied with white rice. The curry is awesome as it displays taste of spiciness and a twang of sweetness. The crisp thin lotus root adds further crunch to the curry.
When dessert was brought to us, we were wowed by the beautiful work of art on the plate. While the description of the dessert is simple, it scored full marks for creativity and presentation. The Toasted meringue is arranged in such a way that the flavours gently flow from sweetness of the coconut sorbet and ends with a sour note from the passionfruit curd. Taste wise, it didn’t really wow us. I also felt that the chiffon cake doesn’t need to be there as it doesn’t blend well with the sorbet and meringue.
Verdict : Overall, I have a very strong appreciation for the quality of the ingredients and visually appealing presentation of the dishes. Great food and hats off to the Chef. There are some little hits and misses but I can forgive them. The overall experience was very exciting due to the ambience, crowd and the service. By the time we finished our meal, the music was pumping, crowd was noisy, restaurant was full and there was already a long line of well-dressed hungry patrons waiting to be seated. And so, the buzz continues … with Coda who will continue to groove like John Travolta.
To die for : 12 Hour beef ribs with radish kimchi, Roasted yellow duck curry
Price : $$$
Yummy Factor : +4
Tip : Not children friendly (in terms of menu) and book ahead before you go