“You’re not sure if it’s going to be hit or miss, so it’s always good to get feedback. But the best part is, when you have a dish, that’s really good and you can hear them literally screaming, ‘wow!’, and ‘oh my god!”
— Reynold Poernomo, Owner KOI Dessert Bar
Reynold Poernomo might be known as MasterChef’s Dessert King, producing some incredibly iconic dishes like ‘White Noise’, and ‘Forbidden Fruit’, but his skills and talents extend beyond sweet treats. Enter his new flagship restaurant, KOI Experiential.
“It’s kind of my own little playground, where I can really get diners excited and make them feel like kids again, it’s where I can go crazy with my concepts and creativity.”
This twelve seater multi-sensory dining experience closes the gap between the chef and the diner. Each dish is pieced together right before your eyes, showing all the intricacies and elements of the dish. But it’s not just about how they look and taste - as we’ve seen from dishes like ‘The Snitch’ and ‘Down The Rabbit Hole’, Reynold loves to tap into our collective consciousness and tell a story through his food.
“We grew up with these iconic stories like Harry Potter, or Alice in Wonderland. And I wanted to bring that back into life, bring that fantasy into reality, and actually create a dish where it’s as if you’re falling like Alice, you’re being consumed, you’re going down the rabbit hole.”
It’s not easy when your every move is being watched. At KOI Experiential, all twelve diners are seated looking into the centre where the chefs are, so there’s no room for mistakes. It’s a thrilling experience for Reynold, especially when he’s testing out a new dish.
“You’re not sure if it’s going to be hit or miss, so it’s always good to get feedback. But the best part is, when you have a dish, that’s really good. And you can hear them literally screaming, ‘wow!’, and ‘oh my god!”
Whilst KOI Experiential opened earlier this year, KOI has been working with Square at its multiple locations long before this. During the pandemic, KOI doubled down on selling their celebration cakes through Square Online.
“Square allows us to understand our customers better, not just where they shop but how consistently they come back, what they’re celebrating, and whether it’s going to be online in our stores.”
Reynold is also tapping into some of his own memories with the savoury dishes at KOI Experiential. On the recent winter menu there was a chicken broth dish, reminiscent of his time in Japan.
“It literally felt like 100 chickens dancing on your tongue. So to make my own version, I wanted that same experience where it’s just an umami bomb that they’ve never had before.”
Ultimately, KOI Experiential is Reynold’s way of bringing back that childlike curiosity.
“When you’re a kid, you’re always curious and asking questions about everything. And when you really bring back that kind of childhood memory and feeling become really giddy and excited, it becomes really fun. So it’s not just eating food, it’s an experience of going into your memories.”
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