It’s been a while, Chanoma Cafe. Over a whole year has gone by since my last visit (thank you, George Street closures!). And so much has changed at Regent Place, but Chanoma Cafe still looks the same with its ever trendy wooden interior and splash of green.
Its menu (click to enlarge), though, has undergone an overhaul. Old favourites are still there, like the matcha based drinks and desserts, but they’ve now added special lattes and kakigori for the summer months as well as monthly specials like matcha octopus fries with yuzu mayo or matcha cheese chips.
To satisfy my dango craving, I revisit the Japanese Dango ($5.00), two skewers of dango, with anko and kinako powder. I’d prefer if they grilled the dango longer so that they’re more golden brown and crispy on the outside, rather than just gooey without the delicious toasty flavour. That said, the anko goes well in providing flavour, texture and sweetness, while the kinako adds a pleasant nuttiness.
And now for the many drinks –
With ever the soft spot for black sesame, here’s the Black Sesame Soy Latte (hot) ($6.50). There’s a very good black sesame smell and flavour that reminds me of the 100% organic black sesame paste I found at TokyoMart in Northbridge. It’s creamy, lightly sweetened using condensed milk with an enjoyable layer of foam. It comes in only one size equal to that of a large coffee cup, which I found to be a bit much for one sitting, although I’d have expected no less for the price. So, perhaps a regular size for a lower price?
N goes for their seasonal item for spring, the Sakura Float ($6.80, +$1.50 for a skewer of shiratama dango), a milk frappe with half azuki and half matcha, topped with soft serve with half azuki and half matcha. It’s not something entirely new, being a combination of two existing items on their menu, but delicious all the same.
With a craving for a good matcha, I try their Iced Matcha ($5.00). This is unsweetened, although sugar syrup is available upon request. Its flavour is bright with natural sweetness and depth, and a pleasant hint of astringency at the end of each sip.
And this is the Honey Yuzu Frappe ($6.50). Initially, N and I were turned off yuzu flavoured drinks at Chanoma after seeing them squeeze generic brand lemon juice into our hot yuzunade, but it’s been over a year since so we’re willing to give it another go. While this frappe also has a lemon-citrus flavour to it, we can taste the slight sharpness from the yuzu. It’s sweetened with honey, though, so it would’ve masked the sweeter yuzu flavours, but nonetheless an enjoyable and refreshing drink.
Now for some more dramatic dessert! What deliciousness does that white cloud hide?
For some time during late 2016, Chanoma brought out these Matcha x Wasabi Fries ($7.90). The fries and soft serve sit in a cup slotted into the top half of one of a frappe cup that’s filled with liquid nitrogen mostly for dramatic effect and perhaps more practically, to keep the ice cream from melting amidst the hot fries. I’d have enjoyed more fries to dip into the soft serve.
The chips are fried until their extra crispy before seasoned with wasabi and seaweed. After my pleasant experience with Wasabi KitKat by Nestle Japan, I’ve no doubt that wasabi can work as a dessert. Here, the wasabi adds pleasant spurts of spicy heat that pares well with the crispiness and saltiness of the chips and the sweetness of the cold matcha soft serve, which is pleasantly bold in matcha flavour and restrained in its dairy notes. I find the spicy heat in wasabi to be enjoyable as it dissipates quickly so that every bite remains pleasant, which is unlike the numbing heat from chilli that lingers and builds with every bite.
After the smoke dissipates, we’re left with a cylindrical slab of ice at the base of the cup.
These visits reminded of just how much I enjoy Chanoma Cafe. After a year, it’s still one of my favourite cafes.
Chanoma Café is located at Shop 1, Regent Place Arcade, 501 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000.