CLOSED: Kohii, Shenton Way

Kohii means “coffee” in Japanese and while it serves coffee, the main attraction is the food. Most of the drinks and food ingredients are imported from Japan, including the UCC coffee, Satori beer, rice, etc. Outdoor sitting only.

We tasted three smoothies, MangoMomo (mango and peach, $6.30), Ichigo Nana (strawberry and Banana nanana nanana nanana, $6.30), and Ringo Cinnamon (apple and you-guess-what, $6.30). Made of pure fruit puree (not syrup!), ice, and a choice of milk (soy, skim or normal), there is a balance in the smoothies. For instance, in a smoothie with two ingredients, the ingredients compliment each other, neither overpowering the other. However, they were rather light for my taste. I like my smoothie fat, thick and heavy.

The soups in general are pretty awesome. There is no cream, so they are light, tasty till the last drop. They also come with this amazingly soft and crispy bread.

The mixed mushroom soup ($9.80) is one of a kind, MUST ORDER. Although it is mixed mushrooms, the taste that comes on strongest is the light buna-shimeji mushroom, a long stalk mushroom with a bell cover. The mushrooms are sauteed first and boiled in their own secret stock, which gives the soup its thickness. There is no starch added. When served, the cook drops a dollop of sake to cover the muskiness of fungi. (The PR told us some expats want a lot of sake in their soups. How to go back to work??) The gluey texture contrasts excellently with the light taste of mushrooms. I was amazed by how much I liked it.

The pumpkin soup ($7.50) is prepared daily from scratch, from the pumpkin itself. Because there is no cream, it is light and refreshing but it is not for everyone. I appreciate the delicious taste but there is a sandy, fibrous texture like how watermelon juice is sometimes “sandy.”

I always claim, “Salad only what..how nice can it be?” As I ate the Assorted Seafood Salad ($10.50), with a smorgasbord of ingredients such as prawns, scallops(!!!), octopus, crab meat, tomatoes, onions, shredded cucumber, garden greens, seaweed and pickled daikon radish, I ate my words too. The salad just burst in my mouth in sweet juices of the seafood. You know, how in anime, when a character eats something amazing, there is lightening in the background. This was how I felt.

There are three dressings you can choose: soy vinegrette (not a typo here, maybe it’s the Japanese way of spelling), miso and goma (roasted sesame). Supermodels always pick vinaigrette because it’s healthy but go for goma, a very creamy dressing, almost like thousand island. Even the hot boys of six-and-seven, my food tasting partners, whom I thought would go for healthy vinaigrette, were unable to resist the temptation of the goma.

Like many things in the cafe, you can customize the sandwich with a choice of plain, oatmeal or wholemeal buns. The buns are crispy and soft, so go for the oatmeal (for fibre) or wholemeal (keeps you full longer). The sandwiches come with mayonnaise, butter lettuce, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers.

Sampling the mushroom sandwich (vegetarian, $10.50), Curry Chicken (pictured below, $9.50) and tuna with apple (pictured above, $9.50), the tuna is well-done because the mayonnaise isn’t too heavy or wet or too little that the tuna becomes flakey. Again, the Japanese touch of delicacy and balance. The accompanying green apple isn’t too acidic or sour, giving the sandwich a refreshing crunch. On the whole, the sandwiches are lightly flavored and I’d like curry chicken to be heavier and the mushroom to have a stronger taste because bread does tone down flavors. But still, this is a Japanese cafe, and it is the philosophy to be light–that I can understand.

On the whole, this cafe is very, very, very awesome because:

1. it resolutely stands by its Japanese philosophy: the imported ingredients, the touch of lightness, and how it adheres to Japanese holidays and festivals. For example, it has a Rainy Day Promotion, a popular promotion in Japan, in which you get free coffee or tea for any purchase on rainy days. The PR told us in confidence that the cafe may bring in Japanese coming-of-age debutantes’ cotillion ball promotion. How is the cafe going to do that? Stay tune.

2. Reasonably priced Cuisine: this is a light, guilt-free, healthy lunch that will not leave you lethargic in the office. Vegetarian options are available. I came here with the thought that it’s “just another cafe.” But the salad and the soups were astoundingly good, and the sincerity of the cafe came through in its careful preparation of the food. What I particularly like is how Japan reverse-colonized the Western food. The West colonized the world through military might in the 19th- and 20th-century and through culture (Hollywood) now. But here, we have an example of Japan incorporating the Western food into its culture, making the food uniquely Japanese. Japan strikes back. It’s like American Idol, taking someone else’s song and owning it, making it your own. Is it a wonder why Japan is a small country but has such cultural power? There is also complimentary free flow barley brown rice tea (almost unsweetened) that is very refreshing on a hot day. Joanne Peh, you can come here.

3. Openness, willingness to take feedback and change. For instance, Melicacy feedback-ed that the chicken (breast) in the Japanese Curry Rice (using Japanese rice and imported Japanese curry) was tough during her food tasting. In our food tasting, the chicken became tender. A reader commented on SG Food on Foot‘s site that the coffee tasted like airplane coffee so Kohii stopped using UCC Masterpiece and changed it to UCC Ultra, a lighter flavor that is more suitable to Singaporeans’ tastebuds. To be able to accept constructive criticism and improve is a very admirable trait.

One Shenton
1 Shenton Way
Singapore 068803
Tel: +65 6509 9639
Mon-Fri: 8.30am – 8.30pm
Sat: 9am – 3pm
(Closed on Sun & PH)

Rating: 3.429/5 stars

PS: We’d like to thank Adelyn, Yean and the staff of Kohii for taking such good care of us. You may also want to see Melicacy’s review and SG Food on Foot’s review. Don’t forget to drop by on the hot boys of Six & Seven for their review.


5 replies »

  1. Cool. I was the one that left a comment on Derrick’s blog. Great to know that they’ve made changes to the coffee after the feedback. I’ll be back for more lunches :)


  2. Hi Susan,

    We at KOHII definitely value feedbacks of all kinds. It is after all something for us to work on. Just to clarify on the UCC Materpiece. It is by itself a strong coffee more commonly used for ‘Fancy Coffees’ thus having the strong bitter after taste. Once again, thank you for your feedback and we look forward to serving you again!


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