Kahii pays homage to, and is named after, the first kissaten (Japanese cafe) that opened in Tokyo in 1888, Kahisakan. The original kissatens were multi-purpose, offering pool tables, playing cards, local and foreign newspapers, books and even shower rooms. But above all, they were places to exchange knowledge and culture over a good cup of coffee.
Edmond Loo (ex-Coffee Alchemy), co-owner of Kahii, spent time living in Japan and says he was impressed by the accessibility of kissatens, and their laid-back atmosphere, with mellow jazz music playing in the background.
His local take on the genre involves coffee until 5pm – but Kahii goes one step further and roasts its beans in-house, sourcing them from Colombia, Brazil and Kenya.
The daytime menu is minimal, with a range of Korean-inspired pastries from Darlinghurst’s Tenacious Bakehouse. You might find a sweetcorn and cheese danish, or a croissant channelling Korean rice cakes (tteok) filled with red bean paste and vanilla cream.
While Loo and head barista Alice Kuang look after the coffee, Wong takes charge of the wine bar side of things, which focuses on French wines, Japanese beers and sake.
By night, the menu is in the hands of Taka Teramoto, executive chef of Kahii’s sister venue, Kuro. Pair a glass of burgundy with 16-day dry-aged duck with red wine and leeks, or the Wagyu tartare topped with egg-yolk jam. A team of sommeliers is on hand to guide diners towards what will complement other dishes, such as roasted cod in beurre blanc, or the John Dory fritto with manchego.
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