Having been a regular at the matcha dessert specialty cafe Matcha Honpo over at Wharf Street since there opening, there was little doubt that I was closely following the progress of their sister store, Koto Sanpo with its flagship planned out as one of the main attractions at the new and improved Elizabeth Arcade, now aptly named FudoDori (i.e. food street).
Imagine how stoked I was to be able to tag along with Adam to their special pre launch function. It was undeniably the best way to spend our Friday after an intense week at work. Was definitely one of the luckiest girls to get to go :)
For those who want context, Koto (古都) refers to the old capital, i.e Kyoto and Sanpo (散步) translates to a long relaxing stroll, which is why the restaurant was set out like a long pathway. I love the wooden pebble textured themes and the enclave booth seating.
The menu was very comprehensive, covering snacks, savory mains, desserts and a huge selection of drinks, half of which we had already seen and tried at Matcha Honpo. I really liked the background they provided on their matcha, sourced directly from Uji, the holy grail of matcha, a place I traveled to last year, just to make sure the quality of matcha was up to scratch ;)
Kicking off with some drinks to start, we opted for ones we hadn't seen at Matcha Honpo. Adam had the Kokuto matcha Jelly Latte Float while I had the double matcha vienna. Kokuto, a brown sugar hailing from Okinawa has been known for their nutrients and long been accredited to one of the reasons why their residents have such longevity. Adam may have finally hit the jackpot in finding a sugar that is actually good for health. Coupled with the smooth soft serve, it was definitely a sweet treat he enjoyed. I on the other hand had the double matcha vienna. Served in a bowl just the way I like it, it was potent, strong and rich. I ended up giving Adam my cream to make sure I retained my appetite for dinner.
Being a launch event, food took a little while to arrive, but when it did, the spread took our breath away.
This was the BBQ Eel Bento with an extra tomato salad. Comprising half a bbq eel, tamagoyaki, a prawn ball, cooked salmon (they had run out of raw that day), agedashi tofu, shabu beef meat, seasoned rice and a side of miso soup. Starting with the tomato, it was poached and skinless, seasoned with a lightly salted vinegarette which really brought out the sweetness of the tomato, it was super refreshing and tasty. Back to the bento, the eel was generous in portion and nicely caramelised but could have been served warmer. The tamagoyaki was also cold and I would have liked it hot, but the salmon had a good crispy skin with a flakey texture. I also enjoyed the well seasoned thinly sliced tender shabu beef meat. Definitely a contender for one of the best bentos in Brisbane CBD.
Next up was the dish that I had ordered to share out of curiosity but ended up being almost solely dominated by Adam because he liked it so much. This was the Beef Katsu Lava Omurice. It was delicious. The tomato rice was unbelievably appetizing and seasoned wonderfully with light hints of beef. The omelette itself was silky smooth and the sauce was a Japanese dark vinegar base with light hints of curry which didn't overpower the dish. The beef was both the highlight and lowlight of the dish. I liked the crisp crumb coating but wish it was a little not as thick. What I did however really love was the fact that they managed to keep the beef from being completely cooked through but rather retaining a little bit of pink. Bonus points for portion size too, there was definitely enough rice for two full bowls under that fluffy omelette.
Not being able to resist a hot bowl of noodles on such a cold night, I had a bowl of kitsune udon, the lightest of the options. Portion size for was on point and the texture of the udon was perfectly al dente with slight bite afterwards. The dashi was light, delicate and fragrant. I only wish the tofu pockets were a bit less sweet.
Always ending our savory part on a high, we had a side of aonori fries. Having tried a considerable selection of shake shake fries in my travels, it's always hard to find anything that beats nori as a topping. The fries were fresh, hot, crispy and not overly oily nor overly salted.
Grabbing a second round of drinks before dessert, this time Adam had the Coffee Jelly Frappe. Compared to his previous Kokuto, the coffee jelly was a lot firmer with a texture akin to grass jelly but infused with a heap of potent coffee. Next time we will definitely go back and try the coffee jelly matcha frappe.
Wanting a lighter and more traditional option, I had the tea ceremony. Being served with some premium matcha, hot water and a whisk, I loved the interactive DIY process.
The end product was as intense as it was delicious and healthy. I could drink this every day.
Sharing some desserts with our friends Wendy and Chris so we could try more, the first one we had was the Strawberry Japanese Pancake. The pancake was thick and fluffy, it looked like the souffle pancakes we had in Japan but were decidedly a little firmer. Strawberries were fresh and sweet and we liked the contrast that the soft serve and traditional ice cream provided. Additional corn flakes also gave it some crunch and texture.
Second dessert was the Matcha Tiramisu Parfait. Comprising of a sweet potato crisp, an edible logo wafer, strawberry mochi, matcha jelly, shiratama, matcha soft serve, matcha popcorn, red beans, matcha cake and matcha tiramisu, it was a behemoth of dedicated to the glory of matcha. Some of the elements were a little strange but overall it worked quite well. I reallly liked the soft strawberry mochi with its chewy texture. The matcha jelly looked deceptively like lime jelly but was most definitely intense matcha. The matcha cake was also moist and silky smooth like a chiffon cake.
Last dessert was the Matcha French Toast. Truth be told, I thought I wouldn't be as keen on it as the other desserts but it was the most delicious of all. The key to this was the fact that the toast, although still classified as toast, had a soft airy cake-y texture to it. In fact it was more like a deep fried unsweetened cake more than toast. Mixed with matcha syrup, ice cream, red bean and mochi, it was the ultimate dessert and I would definitely be back for this.
Espresso and Matcha got to enjoy this complimentary meal by freeloading off FoodieAdam's invite. But as always, my opinions are solely my own.