Saturday, 22 August 2009

CODA - Vietnamese With A French Twist

Basement 141 Flinders Lane (Cnr Oliver Lane), Melbourne CBD - ph: 9650 3155

Friday night dinner at Coda. One of our friends has booked it ages ago, as Coda is 'the' place to be at the moment and large tables are hard to get on a Friday night.

Coda is one of those hard-to-find-lane-way-hidden-in-a-basement Melbourne restaurants. From the outside, it doesn't look much. When you go in, however, the place looks pretty cool and trendy - it had a great atmosphere for dinner and/or drinks.

We start with some red wine - a very good Pinot Noir from New Zealand.

Starter drinks

Coda serves French Vietnamese food. I felt it was more like Vietnamese with somewhat of a French influence. Plates are meant to be shared. The menu consists of a long list of small (entree) dishes and some large (main) options.

Most of the table went with the sharing idea. I had my eyes fixed on the mussels and decided to have a main for myself, but still got to try a bit of the other entrees (got a good deal :).

First dish was traditional Asian 'lettuce wrap', beautifully assembled on a baby lettuce leaf and topped with coriander.

Quail lettuce delight, lup cheong, shiitake mushroom, coriander and water chestnuts ($5 each)
We then came back to France with a stake tartare, served with quail egg. It was delicious and perfectly spiced. The quail egg yolk (about half the size of a chicken one) was a good choice to give the dish just the right amount of moisture.

We also got cuttlefish - similar texture to calamari, a bit softer - lightly battered and served with spiced soy sauce. To me, that was the best dish of the night. I normally don't like battered fish, but this one was so light and crispy and the spices were just so good that I simply could not resist it. Hats off for the chef! I highly recommend this dish to anyone going to Coda.

Steak tartare, quail egg and mustard cress served with toasts ($15)

Seven spiced cuttlefish and ponzu soy ($15)

Then came the mains and I finally got my mussels. I have to say the mains are definitely something to share - it was a huge serve! I loved how the chef gave this traditional dish a twist by introducing strong Asian flavours. The broth in the end was so good that I actually asked for some bread to have it with. But the flavour was too intense to have an entire serve so, again, I recommend this one as a sharing dish.

Spring Bay mussel’s wok fried with shao xing wine, lup cheong, garlic, ginger and chilli ($18)

My husband went with the stake bernaise for main, which he really enjoyed. It was a much smaller serve, so good option as an individual dish.

Hopkins River steak bernaise charcoal grilled ($28)

View of the kitchen from our table

We finished off with some desert wine instead of an actual desert - everyone was just too full! Overall, I enjoyed the experience and would definitely go back. I specially liked the open kitchen and being able to see the staff in action. It provided a bit more entertainment for the night.
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