Chanoma Cafe, Sydney

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N and I bond over our mutu­al love for Japanese food, so when N stumbled across the menu at Chanoma Cafe on the Internet, we had to vis­it. And we’ve been back mul­tiple times. Chanoma Cafe is loc­ated where the old Azuma Cafe used to be.

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N and I shared the Creamy Shrimp Croquette Dog, which con­sisted of a bed of shred­ded cab­bage in a soft bun, topped with a deep-fried crumbed saus­age of shrimp paste, and a gen­er­ous amount of tartare sauce, sprinkled with paprika and sea­weed. The sauce on this hot dog makes it dif­fi­cult to eat in a dig­ni­fied man­ner, and I was slightly dis­ap­poin­ted that the fried shrimp was more shrimp paste than actu­al shrimp, but on the whole, I was quite sat­is­fied with it — the sauce added a nice tangi­ness while the crumbed shrimp added a change in tex­ture. I could prob­ably do without the salad, though.

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So, I wasn’t impressed ini­tially with Chanoma Cafe’s sig­na­ture hot dogs. But! That’s because I hadn’t tried their ter­iyaki chick­en hot dog. A couple of weeks later, I saw H, and this hot dog had a gen­er­ous serving of deep fried and super juicy pieces of chick­en mar­in­ated in ter­iyaki sauce, on a bed of salad, and drizzled with may­on­naise and sea­weed shavings.

These were the shaked fries with soy but­ter and sea­weed, also the best fries ever. They were incred­ibly more­ish and crunchy and you could see and taste the sea­weed. They looked a bit oily when they came out, but it settled quickly, and now I’m crav­ing them just by look­ing at them!

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Part of the fun of the soy and sea­weed shaked fries was that you could see the sea­weed flakes. With the was­abi shaked fries, you obvi­ously can’t — you have to eat them before find­ing out that they’re not nor­mal fries. But that’s okay, ’cause we gobble these up just as fast. The was­abi isn’t over­whelm­ing until you eat some­thing like 10 in a row, and then it starts to get to your head and your nose starts tingling and your eyes start water­ing a little.

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And, the drinks. This is the azuki kur­omitsu latte. I was a bit scep­tic­al with order­ing a milk-based drink because I do not like the taste of milk, but I was pleas­antly sur­prised. It didn’t taste any­thing like milk, and even my aver­sion to whipped cream didn’t hinder my enjoy­ment of this drink at all. It’s per­fectly sweetened, with just the right amount of red bean and brown sug­ar. I often find red bean products to be quite cloy­ing, but I think this drink may cause me to rethink my rela­tion­ship with red bean!

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This is the green tea frappe with whipped cream and dango. This drink made me fond of dango and think of dango as more than just taste­less balls of dough. It also made me real­ise that a frappe isn’t a milky drink, but just a blen­ded ice drink — the frappes at Starbucks just so hap­pen to all be cof­fee and hence have milk in them. The drink had just enough of the bit­ter­ness of matcha powder to remind me of green tea, but enough sweet­ness to counter it.

This is the iced yuzu matcha. Yuzu has fea­tured much more prom­in­ently in Australia in recent years — I’ve even had yuzu fla­voured Mentos chew­ing gum. Matcha by itself­has a hint of bit­ter­ness to it. But, yuzu is a sweet cit­rus, so it masks the bit­ter­ness some­what. It’s hard to describe the taste of yuzu, but it’s some­thing like a kum­quat (only it’s phys­ic­al size is a lot big­ger). I added a stick of shiratama (rice cakes) because I am addicted to their chewy texture.

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And finally, dessert. This is the green tea soft serve with dango, azuki bean paste and agar jelly (left). The soft serve was prob­ably the best green tea fla­voured ice cream I’ve tried — every oth­er time I’ve been left think­ing it’s too bit­ter or too milky or both. But this was just right — it was the per­fect bal­ance of sweet­ness and bit­ter­ness and didn’t taste like milk at all. The azuki bean paste and the agar jelly added some tex­ture to the soft serve. I wasn’t too fond of the agar jelly though — I prefer my jelly to have lots of bounce. I left the dango to last, because they’re deli­ciously chewy and fun. The altern­at­ive with fruit (right) isn’t par­tic­u­larly enjoy­able as you can expect from canned fruit.

Chanoma Cafe is at Regent Place, Shop 1, 501 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000.