But, as my dining companions (my foodie cousin, my fussy cousin and our respective partners) and I discussed last night over our long meal, something seemed not right about Coda. We put it down to the fact that their menu seems to be a fusion that just doesn't seem to compliment each other enough- Asian, French and some hints of Mediterranean.
Don't get me wrong, I ate some amazing French inspired Vietnamese food whilst over in Vietnam. But these dishes didn't bring the two cultures together, it was more that the menu included scatterings of Asian dishes (tapas, curries, little bites) and French dishes (steak with pomme daughinoise, steak tartare) and Mediterranean (some amazing zucchini fritters, proscuitto with figs, lamb chop with chimi churri). We just couldn't seem to wrap our tastebuds around digging into a beautiful Mediterranean lamb chop, then zucchini fritters with melt in your mouth buffalo mozzerella, then the spicy Asian flavours of a duck curry and Korean chicken. The dishes just didn't seem to compliment each other.
It was very difficult not to compare Coda with its neighour, Chin Chin. Whilst the service and ambiance at Chin Chin has nothing on Coda, every dish there just seems to compliment the one before and after, the flavours all go together with the classic combination of sweet and salty, zesty and spicy. They do Asian fusion, and they do it well, whereas this strange French, Asian, Mediterranean fusion at the neighboring restaurant just didn't leave us as impressed.
In saying this, we did eat some really wonderful dishes and enjoyed our time there.
We started off by choosing our own selection of tapas dishes from the 'Smaller' selection- individual serves of Asian and Mediterranean tapas choices. We all agreed that if we were to ever revisit Coda, we would leave the mains and feast on this part of the menu, as this was the part of the meal that seemed to work.
|Spanner Crab, Galangal, roasted chilli and lime betel leaf|
|Crispy Prawn and Tapioca Betel Leaf|
|Beef lettuce delight with nahm jim, chilli, tomato and spearmint|
|Sugar cane prawn with sweet chilli sauce|
|Hanoi crispy rice paper roll with nuoc cham dipping sauce|
My more fussy cousin loved this Hanoi spring roll so much that she ordered a second one. I was lucky enough to get a taste and the spiced pork wrapped in the crispy rice paper with the crisp lettuce and herbs took me back to Hanoi where we ate these every day for approximately 10 cents a spring roll. It was very enjoyable but hard to justify the price when you can get a serve of six on Victoria Street for the same price- however the surroundings would not be nearly as nice.
|Soft rice paper roll with fresh tuna and wasabi mayonnaise|
|Tempura Bugs with Roy Choi's kim chi, chilli salt and soy dipping sauce|
|Lamb Chop with chimi churri and orange cumin salt|
|That's Amore Buffalo Mozzarella with zucchini fritters, mint and pea salad|
After we had worked our way through all these little bites, we picked two mains to share. My foodie cousin was devestated to find the black pepper crab had sold out already, so we asked the waitress for the next two best mains to share.
|'Uhm Ma' Chicken|
|Roasted duck yellow curry|
|Heart of palm, honey-dew melon, mint and cucumber salad|
Obviously all of the above are just my opinions on that particular night, but as I have said above, these different cuisines just didn't seem to fuse for me. It felt odd going from cuisine to cuisine in such a way. I would argue that they definitely seemed to do Meditteranean the best, as the lamb chops and zucchini fritters were undoubtedly the dishes we would return for.
|Monkey banana fritters, crushed pistachio, black sesame and coconut sorbet|
And, they definitely did know how to do dessert. My foodie cousin and I absolutely devoured Coda's take on banana fritters, battered in crispy rice noodle-esque pieces with gorgeous sorbet and crunchy pistachio. I would have this for dessert every night if I could afford it- both money wise and calorie wise.
So all in all, we were both overly impressed and somewhat underwhelmed by Coda all at the same time. I think I would give it another try, but purely focus on the small plates and dessert and skip the main section altogether.
A very beautiful restaurant, great for a romantic first date or special occasion... just make sure you are prepared for flavour confusion! ;)