Fusion cuisine – does that excite you or put you off? Just like the nature of the cuisine, I have mixed feelings when it comes to fusion food, as I have previously mentioned. Especially when it comes to Modern Asian (or Western-Asian), I am a little hesitant, because well, I am afraid to be disappointed by the authentic Asian flavours being lost in the Western take. The price tag is not cheap either so it does make me think twice on whether to give those places a try!
However, I have been delightfully surprised by some Asian-fusion places that have been introduced to me, such as Red Spice Road (love the pork belly there!) and a modern Thai restaurant up in Sydney (can’t remember off the top of my head but it could possibly be Longrain).
So for my latest catch-up dinner with my high school friends, I thought of Coda, which housed Modern Thai cuisine. I’ve heard some good reviews about it and knowing that my girlfriends are quite game to try new places, I decided to put aside my bias this time round and go in with an open mind.
It was nice walking to the fancy end of Collins Street and the restaurant, being tucked away underground, gave a cool funky vibe.
The ambience immediately put us at ease after a day at work – time to relax with some good company and food!
So we started off with this refreshing salad. Yeah, we had a hard time finding the tuna too 😦
And then came our 2nd salad…
Can you tell the difference between the 2 salads? Haha. The difference in the flavours was that this one was slightly saltier and had a fishier taste, with the anchovies and fish sauce. Haha and yes, the calamari seemed to be hiding in the mountain of vegetables – a pity considering when it’s listed as the 1st ingredient on the menu, you would be expecting a lot more calamari featured on the dish.
As you can tell, we were going for a seafood theme that night 😛 The bug was juicy and moist and the chilli was actually spicy! I also couldn’t help myself but crack out abit of the deep fried shell… oops.
And the main dish that I was waiting for…
A lot of reviews have highlighted this as the star dish of Coda so I actually had high expectations of it. But sadly, the curry was a little bland and the sweetness overtook the spiciness. The duck was cooked nicely but the spices of the curry just didn’t impress. It didn’t taste like a proper curry really, and it seemed to have a tomato base.
As the portions were quite small, we still had space for dessert…
And boy, was I glad that we gave dessert a go. Surprisingly, this dessert was the hero dish of the night for me. The chocolate was smooth and beautiful, and the coating was airy and light. The richness of the chocolate was also accompanied by the refreshing mandarin – an absolute winning combination!
And the funny thing is, there was nothing Asian in this dish! I guess you can argue that the mandarin added the Asian dimension but to me, it was mostly a Western dessert and that went down very well with me – no confusion of the elements and every element brought out fantastic flavours.
So I guess overall, I thought Coda had good dishes but it fell short of what I expect of good fusion food – creative, and harmony of flavours between 2 different cuisines. The food was fine but I thought I could also get those dishes at a casual Asian restaurant. So the price doesn’t quite justify the quality of food we were getting, in my opinion. The dessert was the most outstanding and the overall dining experience was decent with good service and a modern cool ambience, but I’m not sure if it’s worth a repeat visit.
So yes, this experience has not really allayed my doubts on fusion cuisine, especially Modern Asian. But anyway, it’s a tick off 1 of Melbourne’s most talked-about restaurants and I’m glad that I’ve friends who are willing to go on these foodie ventures with me, to get a better sense of our favourite and not-so-favourite tastes in town!