Ku Dining, according to head chef Liam Atkinson, isn’t a fine-dining establishment.
Sure, the kitchen might go to the effort of scouring Western Australia for premium produce (duck and game birds from Wagin, say, or deeply flavoured mutton from Katanning, both towns in the heart of the Great Southern region); its chefs might have cooked at some of the city’s most revered fine diners including Restaurant Amuse, Star Anise and Print Hall, and the menu prices – while absolutely commensurate with the quality of the cooking – make Ku more of a special occasion prospect than somewhere you might drop in on a Tuesday night after work.
While all the above point to a certain level of commitment, Atkinson insists that Ku is, at the end of the day, somewhere people can go to have a good time.
“The old rules about fine dining are gone,” he says. “We wanted to make Ku somewhere that people wanted to be. The staff have to have fun and the room has to have fun elements to it.”
And so it is at the smallest yet most ambitious of the three dining rooms at the month-old Ku De Ta. Did London architect Perparim Rama choose the room’s palette – black and gold, the unofficial colours of Western Australia – as a subtle nod to P-Town? It’s hard to say, but there’s no denying that the gold carvings in the black tabletops and gold tubes, and burnt timber nubbins that protrude from the ceiling like fancy stalactites, work at diffusing any sense of stuffiness. An open kitchen beats at the literal and figurative heart of the room.
Following the lead of Mejekawi – the polished yet easy-going dining room at the original Ku De Ta in Bali – Atkinson and his brigade oversee a menu that borrows liberally from around the world. Thus the aforementioned Wagin duck gets roasted Chinese style; the “lacquered” skin rendered crisp and shiny with bird accompanied by mandarin and spice (the same farmers, incidentally, also supply the duck eggs that get turned into a Japanese egg custard chawanmushi topped with pippies and XO sauce, possibly the single best thing to order in the entire complex). Mutton shoulder is slowly roasted and served with vegetables and green sauce, putting the delicious savour of aged sheep front and centre. Elsewhere, wattle-seed chips put an Australian spin on beef tartare, while marron gets served with a creamy saltbush-spiked aioli.
Rather than wholesale seasonal changes to the carte, Atkinson says he’ll be revising individual dishes constantly to keep things interesting for both regular diners and the kitchen. Ku Dining, after all, is all about the fun.
306 Riverside Drive, East Perth
(08) 6324 1100