Before I jetted off to Taiwan in April, Jeremy and I enjoyed a date at the newly opened Ku De Ta’s Deck during the day. While there were some parts of our lunch that didn’t quite hit the mark for us, we both agreed we wanted to come back and try West and KU Dining other times to see how the other offerings compared.
Recently we had our opportunity of doing so, with an invitation to dine at any of the location of our choice. After some careful menu stalking, we booked in at KU Dining, and excitedly awaited for the night in question. It has some seriously good sounding dishes on offer, with Western Australian native and local ingredients celebrated throughout. My kinda stuff!
With winter just around the corner, it was pitch black by the time we got there; our table lit by a single low hanging bulb above. It has great ambiance, though shame there’s no lights cast onto the river to make the most of the view from day to night.
But putting that aside, we relished in the soft chatter of tables surrounding us while sipping on a cocktail each to start. For me, (as always) an amaretto sour and for my boy, an old fashioned. Both perfectly executed and balanced. They’re our favourites for good reason – but they can go awry easily so it was nice to see them so spot on.
We decided to take the menu as a sharing opportunity, though it can easily be structured for single courses. First up as an appetiser, a serve each of the beef ‘n’ brioche ($8.00 per serve).
Oh yes. Oh yes. Oh yes.
Is that enough to describe the ridiculous deliciousness of this? Unctuous, juice dripping beef tongue with soft on the inside, crisp on the outside bread. I’m glad we got one each because a little sliver to ourselves only would have been a massive tease.
Entrees of marron with hemp and saltbush béarnaise ($45.00) and XO pipi with smoked bone marrow and chawanmushi ($32.00) were clear standouts on the menu, begging to be ordered.
While Jeremy and I usually agree on our tastes, we were left divided in terms of which of these was our favourites… but definitely unanimous in that they were both so yum. For him, the contrasting textures and sweetness of WA’s premier crustacean left him leaning towards the marron. It was delicate yet confident in execution – and that saltbush béarnaise really brought it all together with it’s rich creaminess.
The XO pipi was just punchy. There’s no other way to describe it. XO is a Hong Kong originating sauce usually made with dried scallop, chili peppers, Jinhua ham, dried shrimp and garlic. It has a real funk to it, but in a good way – it has tang , a slight smokiness and intensity. In this instance, using it with the seafood and Japanese style custard (which is normally quite plain though really comforting), elevated it into something quite original and impactful. I loved it. I continue to love it even writing this.
Moving on to mains, we gravitated towards another seafood dish – the white fish (barramundi in this case) with smoked mussels and cabbage ($40.00), and the vegetarian offering of cauliflower with smoked almond and sea lettuce ($32.00).
They were both in tune when it came to colour palette, but the flavour profiles were completely different.
Again, Jeremy and I were divided in which was our favourite. For me, the fish really sung of a deft touch with it’s flesh soft and flaky, and the white sauce over the top rich and intense. For Jeremy, the two types of cauliflower with the two sauces had guts and bravado which showcased this vegetable beyond a boring steamed veg or salad offering.
There’s definitely some clever cooking here. The price point is high, there’s no denying it. But it’s good to see that the team are at least being adventurous and trying to showcase modern Australian cuisine is an exciting manner.
The dessert options all sounded enigmatic and exciting. While we’d approached the rest of the menu as a shared meal, we decided to part ways for our sweet ending.
Jeremy chose the hazelnut with artichoke ice-cream and wattle seed ($16.00) while I opted for the ‘black gold’ delice with honeycomb and rosemary ($20.00).
They were so different to one another, yet both ticked the boxes in terms of balance and execution. I thought Jeremy’s dish was very adventurous and while all of us are likely to be sceptical of artichoke ice-cream, it actually worked very well. It had resounding sweetness, but also a savoury quality which made it easy to keep going back in for spoon after spoon. A bit weird – yes – but if you’re feeling up to a challenge, it was definitely something different.
My delice was more of a conventional dish, but I liked the nuances of texture – especially the gold dusted honeycomb which looked like actual gold nuggets. Very pretty!