Friday, 31 May 2019

Koto Sanpo - Brisbane CBD

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. 

Price Range: $15 - $35pp

Taste: 8.5/10
Value: 8/10
Service: 8.5/10
Environment: 9/10
Koto Sanpo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

New Bliss - Fortitude Valley

Midweek brunch to remind myself of the joys of the weekend. Luckily New Bliss is close enough to work that I can get over there and back within my designated lunch slot. Tucked away in the foyer of the commercial building at 47 Warner Street, I could not help but be envious of all the corporates who were lucky enough to have this cafe at their fingertips.


The menu was simple a large selection for the make your own option, and quite a few Irish Inspired dishes. Drinks of course took up another page.


Having already had my morning fix, I tried to be healthy and got an Acai Smoothy. It was smooth, fruity and tart. I definitely felt healthy afterward. Adam had his usual long black.

It took considerable time for me to convey to him what I wanted to order and he recited it in all its detail to the very patient waitress. Our food came faster than the time it took for us to order.

Choosing an Irish dish, he had the Full Soda with Clonakilty sausages, bacon and fried egg in a soda
Farrell sandwich. For those wondering, Soda Bread is an Irish take on bread whereby baking soda is used instead of yeast to make bread, resulting in a dense, scone like texture. Coincidentally, his mom had just made a batch before we had brunch and the texture was definitely spot on. He liked the runny egg too but I thought the bacon needed to have been fried a little longer.

My breakfast was the make your own, with substituted croissant instead of the other bread options served with poached eggs, bacon, salmon, avocado and roasted mushrooms. It was a wonder that it all fit onto one plate and thankfully I could finish it all. The croissant was nice and toasted, the mushrooms tasted more pan fried than roasted. The eggs were a little overdone with a gelatinous interior and like his, the bacon was a little underdone. Smoked salmon was of the storebought variety and the avocado was still quite firm.

Price Range: $20 - $30pp

Taste: 6.5/10
Value: 6/10
Service: 8/10
Environment: 8/10

New Bliss Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Peng You - Newstead

Some readers have pointed out that I don't really eat too much Chinese food when I'm out. My response is always "why would I eat Chinese food out when I can have it at home every single night". Alas, Adam is not one who shares such good fortune as me, so when he said he was craving Chinese, we went to get ourselves a fix at Peng You in Skyring Terrace, Newstead, a quick 30 min walk from his house.


The food and drink menu were both extensive. Luckily for him, I knew exactly what to order, and all he had to do was sit back and wait for the food to arrive. 

Starting off with cocktails, I had the Sakura and he the Ferrero (because it was the sweetest one). Mine was refreshing, his was creamy and I really enjoyed munching on the lychee whilst deciding on food.

The one thing he was craving more than anything else was Peking Duck. Given that there were only two of us eating, I thought that the half size portion with 8 pieces was ample for us to share. For $40 it wasn't too cheap, but the taste was authentic, the duck crispy and not too fatty with a bit of meat under the skin. The pancakes didn't taste too fresh, but were at least quite soft.

After his favourite poultry comes mine. The salt and pepper quail was freshly fried, slightly small but the taste was definitely like home. Bonus points for achieving a crispy skin whilst retaining the moist flesh.


As he was so happy to be eating Chinese for once, he decided on a second round of drinks. I had the fruity and citrusy Singapore Sling, whereas he had yet another Fererro (because chocolate).

Another family favourite of mine is steamed fish. We had the steamed whole baby barramundi with soy, ginger, and shallots. The barramundi was fatty and soft with a silky smooth meat texture. Accompanied with the sweet soy and condiments, this wouldn't be far off from other places at Sunnybank. 

Rounding off our savoury dishes, we had the stir fried black pepper beef with snow peas. Although the beef was definitely tenderised via alternate means, it was stir fried to have a lightly crisp outer shell which was garnished with cracked pepper. Juices from the beef soaked into the peas and corn to give it all the more flavour. Adam really enjoyed this dish.

Whilst I was done with my meal, he couldn't leave without dessert, so he had the tempura banana fritters. The batter was a little thicker than he would have liked, but the bananas were soft and ripe. Coupled with ice cream for some contrast in temperatures, it was a satisfying conclusion to our meal.

Price Range: $70 - $90pp

Taste: 7/10
Value: 5/10
Service: 6/10
Environment: 6/10

Peng You China Kitchen & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 23 May 2019

The Frond Cafe - New Farm

Another weekend, another reason to indulge in brunch. This week we found ourselves at New Farm checking out The Frond Cafe, opening just opposite New Farm Park and placing it in direct competition with it's neighbour Cafe 63 as well as the unofficial brunch central that is Methyr Village.

With both inside and outside seating, we were seated outside, as Adam likes to say it allows better lighting for his shots. Menus were provided promptly and I could definitely see the appeal and contrast from other cafes.

Starting off, Adam had the black diamond, a concoction of espresso, sparkling and lemon, definitely not something you see on regular menus. Fizzy, sour and bitter, he found it an invigorating way to start the day. I opted for the safer bet of batch brew. For $5 you can get unlimited refills, which made it well worth the money spent. The blend was bold and intense. I had three cups.

Being a fairly busy day, it was a while until our food came, but it was well worth the wait.

Always going for the sweet option, so we will never ever fight about what to get, Adam ordered the banana pancakes with lemon curd, blueberry compote and vanilla ice cream. I guess there is a certain joy to the experience of having hot and cold mix in your mouth, and blueberries and lemon were definitely not too rich for a morning meal. He said that this was his two serves of fruit for the day.

For his added dairy intake, he had a side of haloumi, it was toasted wonderfully with a hot centre. Sneaking a piece, I really enjoyed the squishy texture too.

Reverting to my usual, this was the smoked bacon and eggs with a side of avocado and mushrooms. Salmon was on the menu, but not as available as an add on. Both the avocado and mushrooms were generous, especially the mushrooms which were well cooked but could have been seasoned a little more. I found the bread to be a little overly buttered and the bacon could have been cooked for longer but the eggs were done wonderfully. 

Price Range: $20 - $30pp

Taste: 7/10
Value: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Environment: 7/10
The Frond Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato