Koi at Darlinghurst

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Koi at Darlinghurst was always going to have big shoes to fill. Taking over the premises formerly occupied by Phamish, the Vietnamese eatery that saw queues disappear around the corner and up the street, was not going to be easy. But Koi has come up trumps.

Fresh oyster shots served with roe, mint and a sharp plum granita (pictured, top) are a great introduction to a menu that delivers on both price and variety. From delicately seared scallop sashimi (centre) to inside-out spider rolls (the lime and chilli mayonnaise is to die for) and teriyaki chicken, Koi at Darlinghurst serves typical Japanese sushi and grilled favourites alongside new and exciting dishes like the Sea Bass Saikyo-Yaki (pictured, bottom).

Sea Bass, a species not found in Australian waters, has a much stronger texture than other fish. It doesn’t flake, and when grilled to perfection offers a difference you can taste. Gordon Ramsay once declared it the most amazing fish he had ever eaten, proven by its current popularity in New York eateries. While Koi at Darlinghurst isn’t the only place in our city that offers this amazing fish, you can count the restaurants that serve it in Sydney on one hand, and Koi prepares and presents it superbly.

It isn’t the only item to catch our attention. The crispy pork belly served with the most minute dab of apple mustard sauce – all that is needed to ignite this succulent dish which devilishly falls apart before melting in your mouth. Kakuni – which is Japanese for ‘unhurried cooking’ is a fitting description. The pork belly is slowly roasted for 72 hours. Premium quality produce cooked with finesse but without pretension appears to be the thinking behind Koi at Darlinghurst, typified with the sliced Wagyu beef (at grade 9 – the highest quality Wagyu) which dazzles in its simplicity with toasted pinenuts and Koi’s secret sauce.

Desserts (so often neglected at the best Asian restaurants) do not disappoint. A wickedly rich chocolate pudding and a sharp and refreshing house-made coconut ice cream are the perfect finish to conclude what is a first-rate dining experience in an area devoid of affordable Japanese eating spots.

Koi at Darlinghurst takes its name from an unusual type of fish found off the shores of Japan. While inedible, it is considered lucky. Koi can live for up to 120 years. Even more interesting is that while in captivity, they grow proportionally to fit the tank. This then is a fitting title. As a single visit will confirm, Koi at Darlinghurst has quickly grown to meet the high standards of dining in the area. Be warned: your first visit will not be your last.

Koi is situated at 354 Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst and is BYO.
Enquiries on (02) 9331 1167.
Photography by Anastasia Fai.