Last Updated: August 13, 2018
As a kid, I’d scrunch up my nose at the scent of vinegar, repelled by its biting and pungent smell. Over the years, I’ve come to love the use of vinegar in dishes, even mixing pomegranate vinegar syrup with sparkling water at home.
But who knew I’d come across a store selling such refreshments in Singapore? Along Icon Village at Tanjong Pagar, Kakuida’s has created their own Japanese Black Vinegar-infused drinks and baked donuts for us to fall in love with.
It’s a rather cosy store with a navy blue signboard that reads “kurozu with real fruits infused”, which makes us wonder what kurozu is.
Kurozu is a Japanese black vinegar “wonder-food” hailing from the Edo period of the 1800s which delivers diverse health benefits to the human body: relieving stress and fatigue, detoxifying the liver, boosting metabolism, promoting digestion and lowering cholesterol.
To integrate this healthy fermented brown rice and koji (a type of fungus which grows on rice) brew into our daily lives, Kakuida’s has concocted these delicious drinks with kurozu.
The drinks menu varies from straight teas to milk teas, organic fruits, ice blended/smoothies, as well as hot drinks infused with the vinegar.
I braced myself for the Homemade Kurozu Ice Lemon Tea With Kurozu Konnyaku (S$3.90), slightly apprehensive about the first sip of this vinegar drink. Maybe because their kurozu is aged for three painstaking YEARS, it had a mellow earthy sourness which tingled my taste buds with the right balance.
With every gulp, the drink was refreshing, not overly sweet and definitely wasn’t in-your-face sour, perfect for kurozu first-timers.
Layered with kurozu konnyaku (also known as konjac), the Pina Colada Fruit Tea (S$3.90 regular, S$4.70 large) is for milk tea lovers but with a tart twist.
The milk powder blended drink was creamy while the vinegar konjac was mildly sour and sweet; an interesting combo which worked surprisingly well together. It may not suit everyone’s tastes and drinkers shouldn’t get too excited — it doesn’t contain any alcohol.
As if their drinks couldn’t get any healthier, the Blueberry (S$5.80 original, S$6.20 sparkling) was brewed from the essence of premium-quality organic blueberries that were fermented together with kurozu over 10 days.
The drink easily quenched my thirst with its fruity yet zesty flavours, but I would’ve liked stronger notes of the blueberries.
Flavour-wise, I take my hat off to their Passionfruit Matcha Ice Blended (S$6.50). The initial sip treated me to a hint of matcha followed by the tropical passion fruit and ended with a gentle sourness from the kurozu.
I’m a big matcha fan but in this drink, it served more as a flavour enhancer and needless to say, it worked. Definitely coming back for this one on a hot day!
Just because we live in Singapore doesn’t mean we don’t love a hot drink now and then. The Honey Ginger Kurozu With Orange Peel (S$3.90) had a pleasant citrus fragrance with orange peel bits floating on the surface.
The ginger was pungent and spicy, balanced with the sweetness of the honey and acidic kurozu. If you’re feeling under the weather, this beverage might be the ultimate remedy.
Donuts are typically deep-fried to achieve the perfect crisp yet fluffiness, making it the ultimate sinful snack. But what if I told you, there are baked donuts which are equally heavenly but healthier than your regular donuts?
Made from rice flour imported from Japan, the donuts here are all mixed with kurozu which enhances the taste of the donut. I know what you’re thinking — vinegar in drinks, sure, but in donuts, uh no thanks?
But when I tried the Original (S$1.90, S$2.20 with chocolate chips), I wasn’t just relieved but elated. It didn’t taste like vinegar at all and had just the right amount of sweetness.
As a baked donut, the texture seemed similar to that of a castella with its spongy yet dense dough. For donut traditionalists, the consistency might seem off, but it was love at first bite for me.
Since I love all things matcha, I was naturally drawn to their Matcha (S$2.20, S$2.50 with chocolate chips) donut. Pulling it apart, I couldn’t help but grin at the pretty lime-green colour inside, further heightening my expectations.
And the taste? Solid matcha notes permeated my mouth as I chewed on the springy donut. Definitely a winner.
People say you can never go wrong with chocolate. The Chocolate (S$2.20, S$2.50 with chocolate chips) donut stayed true to this saying with its mild dark chocolate flavours.
It wasn’t overly sweet and had a soft bitterness, and the bouncy texture of the donut was impressive yet again. Oh, and did I mention how these confections would be heavenly with a glass of chilled milk?
The Sweet Potato (S$2.20, S$2.50 with chocolate chips) donut looked similar to the chocolate, but once torn, I could see a faded purple hue in the dough.
Unlike the rest of the donut flavours, the sweet potato was mild and lacked the distinct sweetness of the root vegetable.
You can have your donuts with chocolate chips at an additional cost. They are sprinkled in between the batter before being pressed together to complete the donut.
Although chocolate chips go with almost anything, the matcha paired perfectly with these bittersweet supplements. Personally, I found their donuts delectable on their own but chocoholics would say otherwise.
I thought I was done being surprised, but their Signature Soft-Serve With Kuromitsu (S$4.50) did it for me again with the milky soft serve drizzled with kuromitsu, which is a Japanese sugar syrup infused with kurozu.
The first spoonful of the soft serve was biting as the strong flavours of the kurozu coated my tongue, overpowering my senses. While the acidity slowly dulled with more scoops of the ice cream and crunchy cornflakes, I found the dessert to be too vinegary for my liking.
Yet another unique soft serve on the menu is the Signature Soft-Serve With Genmaicha (S$4.50), dusted with roasted Japanese brown rice tea and lined with cereal for added crunch at the bottom of the cup.
Coffee addicts will love this one because the genmaicha and the creamy soft serve had a sweet, roasted aroma like a latte. It’s a one-of-a-kind soft serve in Singapore that fellow sweet tooths must try.
We can’t count the sheer number of drink stalls in Singapore which make us fall into the same pattern of getting our daily dose of bubble teas or fruit drinks, which may not always be good for us.
At Kakuida’s, the selection of kurozu-infused drinks, baked donuts and unique soft serves will get you out of that routine for a better and healthier lifestyle.
And yes, you might even see me there holding a drink and another box of donuts because it’s that good to come back for.
Expected damage: S$1.90 – S$6.50 per pax