Going crazy for matcha at Chanoma Cafe, Town Hall

Friday, August 28, 2015

I must say, I never really had a thing for Matcha until I travelled to Japan a couple of years ago. It was there that I had my very first matcha soft serve, and from then on that I developed a profound love for anything and everything green and tea-flavoured.
Matcha is the finely-ground leaf of the green tea plant, popular in Asian culture (especially in Japan) where it lends a subtle, slightly bitter flavour and pleasantly sweet aftertaste, as well as a comical green colour, to sweets, desserts and hot drinks.

Chanoma Café, situated in Regents Place only a stone-throw away from Sydney’s Town Hall, is a small, corner-positioned café that specialises in all things matcha. Think deep green-tinged lattes, frappes, floats and iconic Japanese desserts such as Anmitsu (a jumble of soft matcha ice cream, agar jelly, sweet red bean and rice cake) and parfaits – the Japanese answer to ice cream sundaes. It's set up as a fast food-style eatery with a notable Japanese influence; order at the counter, grab a buzzer and contemplate the cute vine decorations hanging from the ceiling as you wait. 

Matcha latte ($4.20)

As the vast menu and colour of the interior suggests, anything matcha is a must try at Chanoma. This matcha latte has a deep, bitter flavour and striking colour that tastes so much more authentic than other over-sweetened, pale matcha lattes you can get elsewhere. Perhaps it is wiser to order a matcha cappuccino if you love lots of foam, as there isn’t a lot on this hot drink which is little more watery than expected.

Sweet Azuki Frappe ($5.90)

If you’re an avid red bean (azuki) fan like I am, you’ll love the chilled Azuki Frappe, which has an earthy, slightly nutty flavour. 

Topped with a squeeze of whipped cream and a dusting of Japanese soy powder (kinako), each sip is icy cold and perfectly balanced. The frappe is slightly sweetened - more so that the matcha latte - which brings out the delicious red bean flavour. This also comes in a hot latte version, and if you love Asian flavours, special drinks like black sesame soy latte and yuzu lemonade are not featured on the main menu, but also offered. 

A small section of Chanoma's menu boasts the ‘Japadog’ – a Japanese twist on the conventional all-American hot dog. Some dogs take their name from well-known Japanese dishes such as the Tonkatsu (deep fried, ham-wrapped sausage with Tonkatsu sauce) and Teriyaki Chicken (deep fried chicken with Teriyaki sauce). Others are more innovative creations, like the Spicy Meat Lovers dog which is topped with miso pork mince and cannellini beans.

Chanoma dog ($4.90) with shaked chips ($3.90 - $4.40)

The Chanoma dog consists of a kransky sausage on top of a spread of dark, yellow-stained curried cabbage and thick salsa in a white bread roll. Love the sweet flavours of Japanese curry? The soft, cooked down cabbage in this dog resembles just that, offset by the thick, rich and mildly-spicy salsa sauce, which is similar in texture and flavour to a Japanese-style bolognese. As we arrived after lunchtime, the rolls weren’t very fresh, but the flavour combination of this dog makes each bite deliciously addictive. The chips resemble French Fries in both shape and size, and despite the numerous flavourings offered – wasabi, soy and seaweed, chilli and garlic – we can’t seem to taste anything distinctive in them, although they are crisp and moreish.

 Teriyaki Chicken Dog ($5.90)

The Teriyaki Chicken Dog has golden fried nuggets of chicken in place of the sausage, topped with sweet Teriyaki sauce and a squiggle of tartar on a nest of fresh cabbage. Although the flavours are good, the chicken is a little dry and there seems to be more cabbage than chicken. However, it’s a very tasty Japadog nevertheless.

Shiratama Dango

Dango is a Japanese rice cake made from glutinous rice (mochiko) flour rolled into balls, much like mochi. The texture is chewy and slightly sticky, each bite giving way to a fairly neutral-flavoured morsel that is the perfect vehicle for dipping into ice cream.

Matcha Parfait ($9.90)

This is the mother of Japanese fusion desserts, and a very theatrical one at that. The parfait is Japan’s answer to the ice cream sundae - a tumble of ice cream, whipped cream, fruits and all kinds of sweet toppings. Chanoma’s parfaits come in a matcha, chocolate or fruit variety. The matcha parfait is layered with swirls of matcha soft serve, matcha syrup, corn flakes, red bean, rice cake, fruit, wafer, pocky and whipped cream. 

A waffle cone provides visual delight; deconstruct the parfait bit by bit and dig in deep so that you get everything in one mouthful. We love the sweetness of the red bean paste against the bitter matcha ice cream and satisfying crunch of the corn flakes. Despite the endless list of mix-and-match components, everything melds together to create a wonderfully calorific, eye-catching dessert. This is a fun dessert to share or have on your own, but be prepared for a little messiness!

Chanoma’s matcha soft serves are a must-try if you’re in the mood for a plain but refreshing ice cream. The ice cream has a really authentic, strong green tea flavour, and is the perfect showcase of the high quality matcha that the café sources from Japan.

Being accredited with the Washoku Lovers logo, members of Washoku Lovers are offered a great deal which consists of a Chanoma dog, matcha latte, shaked chips and and shiratama dango for just under ten dollars. 

If you have the opportunity to eat anything at Chanoma, make it the authentic Japanese desserts and chilled drinks. My pick would be their creamy, slightly bitter but perfectly balanced matcha soft serve ice cream. With most items at a fairly cheap price, Chanoma is a great afternoon pit stop when you’re on your way through the city, or a looking for a fast, cute, informal dessert café. It is definitely giving matcha a good name on Sydney’s dessert scene. 

Maddie dined as a guest of Washoku Lovers, however opinions are her own. 

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  1. Looks delicious Maddie! Hope all's well :)

    1. Hey Tina! Thank you!! I'm doing great - hope you're well too! :D

    2. Hey Tina! Thank you!! I'm doing great - hope you're well too! :D

  2. They're matcha really gives a strong flavour, it's definitely not your typical sweet ones ay.... with aqua s opened, I have not been back for their soft serve... maybe it's time to go back

    1. That is what I love about their matcha soft serve! I always go there when I'm craving something cool but not too sweet - sometimes I find aqua s' ice creams too heavy ;)

  3. Replies
    1. Hehe yes, perfect for sharing!! It's a fair bit messy to eat though!

  4. Honestly I'm not a big fan of green tea flavoured things but I really love thier matcha float for some reason

    1. Haha yes I think it's the matcha ice cream that makes it :)

    2. Haha yes I think it's the matcha ice cream that makes it :)