Kyoto, which has a long history as a producer of teas, is now a battleground for matcha sweets. Here are six select shops where you can enjoy tasty matcha sweets.
1. Umezono Cafe & Gallery
This is a cafe and gallery run by the long-established sweets chaya cafe, Umezono, in an old Kyo-machiya style house that has been renovated in the Western style. The recommended menu item is the "Matcha Hot Cake" (930 JPY), made with plenty of Uji matcha from Kyoto. The brown cane sugar butter that melts on the moist and soft matcha-colored hot cake goes perfectly with the slightly sweet red bean paste. It may appear to be rather large, but not to worry - you'll eat it up before you know it. Of course, you can have the "mitarashi dango" (430 JPY), a type of dumpling sweet that is popular at the main store as well. This is a cafe in which you can relax and savor your sweets while enjoying the exhibits in the gallery.
2. Cafe Hassui
This is a cafe where you can enjoy tasty sweets with a panoramic view of Arashiyama. The "Hisui Mochi" (650 JPY (excl. tax)) that seems to imitate the jade green color of Hozu River is recommended. It is a cold dessert with a jelly-like texture that is made using the aromatic matcha tea from the famous Ippodo Tea Company of Kyoto. If the weather is good, definitely sit out on the terrace. Enjoy Kyoto's matcha sweets with a fabulous view. It is a luxurious space that offers spectacular sweets and views throughout the year, from the summer to foliage in the fall and snowscape in the winter.
*There is a service charge of 10%.
3. Maccha House Kyoto Kawaramachi
This is a shop that specializes in matcha by the tea maker, Morihan, which was established in 1836. There are nine shops in Hong Kong and other Asian countries, so its menu includes matcha items that were developed abroad. Of course, there are original matcha drinks and sweets only available in Japan as well. The recommended dish is the "Uji Maccha Tiramisu" (550 JPY (excl. tax)), which is popular abroad. Matcha tea, mascarpone cheese, and a moist matcha sponge cake come together superbly as a tiramisu. Enjoy a new type of matcha sweets that have incorporated aspects of overseas cultures in the matcha capital of Kyoto.
The photograph is of the store in Taipei.
4. Kyo Hayashiya Kyoto Sanjo Branch
This is a tea specialty shop that serves not just Japanese teas such as matcha and hojicha, but also Chinese teas, black teas, and herbal teas. It is known as the shop that came up with matcha parfaits, and has a full menu of items made with matcha. The recommended item is its standard "matcha parfait." The matcha flavors are enhanced without the bitterness in this light parfait made simply with soft serve ice cream, ice cream, jello, shiratama mochi dumplings, and fresh cream. The meal items made with tea, such as matcha zosui porridge and tea rice are also popular. Enjoy these dishes that can only be enjoyed at a tea specialty shop.
5. Itohkyuemon Uji Main Store
This is a cafe on the same grounds as a tea retail shop, where you can enjoy sweets made with plenty of aromatic matcha green tea. The recommended dish is the "Matcha Anmitsu" (680 JPY (incl. tax)). The gentle bitterness and the fresh sweetness of the matcha green tea is superb. Parfaits and anmitsu are served with powdered matcha tea, so you can sprinkle as much of it as you want over them. Also, if you take a picture of your food and post it on social media using the hashtags #伊藤久右衛門(#itohkyuemon) and show the page to the cashier, you'll get 5% off. (One posting per bill, only postings on that day are valid/credit cards not accepted/cannot be combined with coupons).
6. Jouvencelle Gion Branch
The Jouvencelle "sweets cafe" in Gion is a popular cafe near Yasaka Shrine. The recommended dish is the "Gion Fondue" (1,458 JPY (incl. tax)) of seasonal fruits, dango balls, and pound cake that is eaten dipped in a creamy matcha chocolate sauce. The slightly warm matcha chocolate sauce goes well with the ingredients. One of the benefits of this dish is that you can eat it as you like, by putting just a little sauce on some items, and a lot on others. When you're finished, they will make a matcha latte for you by adding hot milk to the remaining sauce. This is a dish that you can enjoy to the last drop.
Matcha green tea somehow goes well both with both Japanese food and Western food. Its bitterness and the fresh aroma that seems to come through the nose is irresistible. It would be such a waste to go to Kyoto and not enjoy matcha! So be sure to make use of this article.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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