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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.