Cafe Kentaro | Surry Hills | Sydney | Australia
Congratulations also to the other winner: Jess @lazypandaishungry, whom despite her utmost modesty is a much better photographer than I, and we hope she enjoys her time at Cafe Kentaro and captures some beautiful pictures for her Instagram grid :D
But first, Hojicha.
Today I drank a Hojicha Sencha Latte
While most Sydneysiders are familiar with matcha green tea, the lesser known cousin is called Hojicha.
Hojicha is known by the Japanese as “roasted twigs”, literally because Hojicha tea is made by roasting the cheaper stems of the plant as opposed to steaming the leaves. Due to the charcoal roasting process, the harshness of the heat renders Hojicha with less caffeine than other green teas, but creates a distinct aromatic flavour and burnt yellow colour unlike the pale tones of steamed teas.
Hojicha tea is visually characterised by its darker colour, and earthier, caramel flavour. A Hojicha Latte is made with a dense tea concentrate and dairy milk to give it a sweet edge, though an almond milk one (like the one above) will preserve its muddy colour and authentic tea taste.
Today Chef D and I drank a Oratnek Coffee with Jelly
Move over Iced Lattes, move over Coffee ice-cubes; Kentaro likes his coffee with jelly - espresso jelly that is!
This Cafe Kentaro Signature drink is a spin off of the Pearl Milk teas from the likes of Cha Time, Easy Way, and Gong Cha. Rather than pearls, it’s jelly, and it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted. Chef D took one spoonful of coffee jelly and was immediately taken aback by how strong it was! As an espresso drinker myself, I couldn’t help but sit back and chuckle at her efforts as I devoured my dewy drops of caffeinated heaven :D
And now, let's eat.
Today Chef D ate the Pork Katsu Sandwich
With 200g of Pork Fillet Katsu, Cabbage, Japanese BBQ sauce, and mustard
The menu states a 15 minute wait, and boy was it worth it!
Between two pieces of soft white bread, a crazy good Katsu with a crispy crust, combined with a combo of sensation sauces that is fun and leaves a flutter of flavours dancing the tip of the tongue.
I don’t normally like bread, but let’s just say that sandwiches are now one of my favourite foods!
Today I ate the Natto Pasta Linguine
Natto beans, okura, nori, seeds, shiso, shallots, egg yolk, lotus chips, soy, mirin
When I decided to order this dish I thought, “Hmmm... this could be a risky move, or the smartest...”
Cafe Kentaro’s Natto Pasta is truly a unique dish, something one would never expect from a Japanese cafe menu.
Unfamiliar with Japanese cuisine, I had no idea what half of these ingredients were, but being the brave bear that I am as I was about to dive nose-first into the unknown, of course I had to do some research:
Natto | soybeans fermented with a bacterium called Bacillus subtilis (grass bacillus) | has a powerful smell, strong flavor, and slimy texture;
Okura | aka Ladies Fingers / ochro / okra | a flowering plant with edible seeds pods | when cooked it produces a gooey slime texture from its mucilage;
Nori | edible seaweed that is typically used in sushi | used as a flakey garnish;
Shiso | a plant belonging to the mint family | has a unique pungent and grassy flavour, with strong notes of spearmint, basil, anise and cinnamon | culinary uses include soups, tempura, or a garnish on rice;
Lotus | aka Indian Lotus / sacred lotus / Egyptian bean | a beautiful, cheap and plentiful vegetable of Asia with a crispy and crunchy texture when fried
With Natto, Okra and Egg Yolk providing the gooey “sauce”; the Shiso, shallts, soy and mirin to give the flavour; and the Nori and Lotus for the texture, combined with perfectly cooked al dente pasta, this dish is incredible and such a success!
The best way to eat this pasta is to eat it piping hot (so take those photos fast!) rip into that egg yolk and swirl it with the Natto beans for that extra yummy oozey-ness!
Absolute standing ovation to Cafe Kentaro!
I’ll be honest, if I hadn’t been given the incentive to return, I doubt I would’ve come back so quickly, let alone try such a risky dish like the Natto Linguine, so I’m really glad I received that voucher and took the chance on something new.
It just goes to show: that a menu description cannot do a dish justice; that trying something new can be life-changing and enlightening, and the saying Don’t-knock-it-‘til-you-try-it is such an accurate statement!
Thank you Chef Kenny for your hospitality and beautiful food! I most definitely will be back even on my own accord :)
Thank you for reading! Share with your friends, family, and other foodies! Please give feedback so I may always be improving my writing, photography, and finding new ways to stuff my face. Now go out and try more food and report back with your next favourite!