Entering The Koala Joe’s Cafe on RK Salai, we meet Rohan Nandakumar, a pastry chef and product of Le Cordon Bleu Australia, who decided that Chennai was the place for his brand of pastries. Clad in a pair of shorts, a T-shirt and blue Crocs, he exclaims, “Shorts are the most underrated apparel in this city.”
To our delight, dressing comfortably is not the only thing Nandakumar, 24, feels strongly about. “I believe that there’s so much more to chocolate than people are aware of,” says the caffeine addict, as he shows us his most recent creation — a five-textured chocolate cake. A crumble base, layered with red chocolate mousse, white chocolate and peanut brittle, and peanut ganache topped with a disc of chocolate. There’s no way you would know that the circular cake is hollow inside — until the piping hot mixture of chocolate and espresso that he pours on top, melts away the chocolate disc to drip deliciously into the well within.
His menu, a work in progress, features salads, sandwiches, hot and cold coffees, and a whole lot of wordplay built around Austr-alian slang. The Banger Sanger for instance. One bite of the smoked sausage that’s grilled and cradled in foccaccia, and I nod that it’s definitely worth the journey it has made from New Delhi to my plate in Chennai. Still perfecting his recipes, Nandakumar says that he will be having whole wheat, sour dough and gluten free breads on offer soon. For now, we tuck into a Baileys tiramisu that Nandakumar dares to serve us. Minus the coffee liqueur, it’s obviously not the same, but thankfully, that’s something our palates that are open to a bit of experimentation don’t mind.
A coffee and sandwich would cost approximately Rs 200. Details: 42084823
- Ryan Peppin (Pics: A Raja Chidambaram)