After a delicious brunch of gastronomical proportions, I primed myself for two rather exciting meals (Find out more about my brunch adventures Here).
I tend to cringe whenever I hear the mention of Asian “Fusion” food, which is more often than not, an attempt by a Western chef, who discovers the virtues of an Asian ingredient e.g. lemongrass and Thai Basil, and attempts to infuse it into every single dish that he concocts, calling it “Asian” cuisine.
But, Asian Fusion restaurants in Melbourne that I’ve visited thus far seems to be an exception to this rule. And today, I’ll be visiting two for lunch and dinner, and both at Flinders Lane. That’s 4 restaurants that I’d visited in this hipster street thus far! I’m starting to see a trend, as certain parts of town are epicenters for various gastronomical adventures such as this. Another being South Yarra, which has 3 amazing patisseries within walking distance to each other i.e. Zumbo, Luxbite, and Burch & Purchese. All of which have since added inches to my waistline. Oh well, YOLO I reckon? But I digress, as I’ll cover my sweet tooth adventures in another impending article.
Now, let us begin with Coda.
There’s a pronounced industrial and rather chic feel to the restaurant, service was polite but not particularly warm. The menu itself consists of various smaller tapas-like options, some larger sharing plates, side dishes, and of course, my one true vice, dessert. We ordered a few that sounded intriguing to us, and thus began our meal.
We started with an appetizer, which was Spanner crab, galangal, roasted chilli, and a lime betel leaf. It was quite refreshing, and could definitely taste the freshness of the crab, albeit didn’t quite feel the heat despite the addition of roasted chilli, which would have been provided a nice kick.
Next, we had the special of the day, which was a seared scallop served with polenta, and salmon roe. It was nice unctuous dish, and I particularly enjoyed the sweetness of the scallop with the luxuriously creamy polenta, with the added pop from the roe.
Next was a Vietnamese styled Crispy rice paper roll with pork, taro, and nuoc mam dipping sauce. This was decent, but a not very memorable dish. Could have used more meat in the paper roll, although I did enjoy the fragrant herbs that accompanied the dish.
Now, I loved this one, which was a blackened quail, with daikon and shiso salad. The quail was nicely caramelized on the outside, and juicy tender inside. Being a rather small bird, it is challenging not to overcook it, and kudos to the chef for executing this perfectly. Delicious!
Next, we had the sharing portion of the Roasted yellow duck curry. I was rather surprised, as the curry definitely had quite some heat to it, and singed my tongue a little. The roasted duck itself was tender, and I honestly enjoyed the dish.
Dessert was a stand out. A fantastically rich corn parfait, with strawberry sorbet, passionfruit, and dusted with some white chocolate snow. I just loved the corn ice cream that accompanied the dish, which was smooth, and could definitely taste the corn in it. Brilliant, and very pretty to look at as well.
Now, many folks might argue that ultimately it’s the taste that matters, but I beg to differ, as a beautifully presented dish adds a lot of appeal to dish. Besides, who doesn’t salivate profusely when watching a celebrity chef like Heston Blumenthal, or Jamie Oliver, knocking out beautiful dishes on the food channel.
Eventually, the price tag for the food alone came up to about A$50 per diner, which was rather pricey for lunch. Some dishes were more memorable than others, such as the blackened quail, and I would definitely return for the sweet corn parfait. Perhaps worth a return for a special occasion, albeit I’m a bigger fan of Supernormal, which we’ll be coming to next!
Supernormal was quite a large restaurant, with a very minimalist, almost austere design to it. We arrived at 6pm, and had ample seats to choose from. The restaurant enforces a strict rule that everybody in the party must be present in order to be seated. So do make sure that everybody’s on time!
In retrospect, this restaurant was arguably my favourite restaurant during this trip. And let me explain why.
First, seaweed crackers with sea urchin. Oh my lord, this was packed with umami flavour, and the crispy cracker paired brilliantly with the richness of the Uni, or sea urchin.
Next, we had the New England Lobster Roll. Oh man, I think I’ve found the dish which I would bring to a deserted island. The sweet lobster with some mayo, paired with a sweet, soft asian-styled bun, was just out of this world! I could have eaten a bucket load of those rolls!
Next, we had the twice cooked duck, wrapped with steamed buns and dipped with vinegar and plum sauce. This was a pretty tasty dish, with the twice cooked duck resembling duck confit but with asian flavours, and fell apart nicely with a slight poke of the fork.
Next, we had a Korean styled pulled pork shoulder, with pickled cabbage and saam jang sauce. What truly made the dish, was the entire slab of pork crackling that came with the dish! It was truly a sight to behold. On the flip side, the pork itself was nicely tender, but was a bit bland, and could have done with punchier Korean flavours.
After a hefty meal, we were filled to the brim, but there’s always room for dessert!
Now this is new to me, fried custard with ginger syrup. A warm custard enveloped by a tempura crust, drizzled with ginger syrup. This was quite delicious, and appreciated that the crust was crispy with minimal amount of grease, although honestly it’s quite hard to go wrong with fried desserts.
Next, we had the peanut butter parfait, salted caramel, and soft chocolate. This was beautifully rich dessert, and a real fan favourite. Honestly, I’m a sucker for each of those components, but their powers combined, was utter brilliance.
The bill came up to approximately A$70 per person, which included about 2 beer/wine per person. Quite a hefty bill to pay, but definitely worth it for the occasional splurge.
Between the two restaurants, I would gladly return to Supernormal anyday. Although Coda churned out some pretty good dishes, Supernormal definitely hit the right notes, and were not shy with their flavours. I could still taste that lobster roll, which was legendary! And no, I’m not going to wait for it.
Coda – Basement 141 Flinders Lane (Cnr Oliver Ln.) Melbourne 3000. +61 3 9650 3155
Supernormal – 180 Flinders Lane Melbourne 3000. +61 3 9650 8688