Saturday, June 7, 2014

matcha house.

Who loves green tea? I do! So when Matcha House finally opened up its doors on O'Connell Street, it didn't take long for my friends and I to hurry down and see what it was all about.  The story is that the owner, Deb, travelled to Japan a few years ago specifically for taste-testing different kinds of green tea and brought back her favourites to put on the menu.  You can see the effort put behind her choices as soon as you look at the menu (half the menu is dedicated to just tea alone) but I, as usual, was more curious about the food!

If you're not really a fan of green tea, you have pretty limited choices.  90% of the menu is devoted to green tea whether it be icecream, tiramisu, waffles, lattes etc.  There are non green tea items like bubble tea (various flavours) and iced chocolate, iced coffee and the like and there are two desserts which don't have green tea in it - the peppermint slice and Japanese cheesecake.  Both are served with green tea icecream though.

Green Tea Tiramisu
Cutely set out in a small mason jar, the tiramisu (or should I say tea-ramisu?) was served with two scoops of icecream, some fruit and a sprinkle of green tea powder on top of the cream.  It's an interesting concept, but unfortunately wasn't well done. The cake layers were a bit too hard - tiramisu is supposed to be melt-in-your-mouth soft with soft cake and cream merging together - and the green tea cream was so subtly flavoured that were it not for the sprinkles on top, you might not know it was a green tea tiramisu.

Green Tea Sundaes
These two are different menu items, but they're quite similar.  The difference lies in the topping - the left sundae has toasted brown rice and the right sundae has fresh fruit and red beans.  The green tea soft-serve is definitely the highlight and rightly so - deliciously green-tea flavoured and wonderfully creamy.  The cornflakes at the bottom provide a nice crunch while the toasted brown rice has it's own nutty flavour which holds out against the green tea.

Green Tea Waffles
Green tea waffles? Whatt? Yeah, I know right? But surprisingly this is probably one of my favourite desserts from the menu.  The waffles are drizzled with a sweet green-tea syrup and are beautifully light green inside.  Texture is also on point with a toasted brown exterior and soft insides.  The disappointing part was the presentation of the ice-cream and the 'fruit' which was really just a few frozen berries.  The flavours of the ice-cream were brown green tea, matcha green tea and vanilla.  Absolutely loved the first two flavours but the vanilla was kind of meh.
Japanese Cheesecake
See, that's how ice-cream is supposed to be scooped and served!  This was taken a day after the waffles (yes, I went two days in a row...) and I was so happy to see the ice-cream in a proper spherical shape. The cheesecake was slightly rubbery and didn't have much of a flavour to it.  The sultanas at the bottom gave it some sweetness but other than that, not much else going on.  The icecream was the better part of the dish - sesame and matcha green tea.  Both were so good.

Green Tea Soft Serve
One word: delicious.  That is all.  Order it.

Ginger Snap Basket
The same scoops of icecream as the waffles - brown green tea, matcha green tea and vanilla - with strawberries (these were frozen) and green tea drizzle over the top.  Slightly unimpressive given that the ice-cream was half melted when it got to us and frozen strawberries...really?

Matcha Green Tea Latte (hot)
Apparently, matcha green tea lattes are traditionally served in a bowl and not with milk.  We were also warned that it might be very bitter and hence a small bowl of sweet red bean was given to us.  None of us found it bitter at all but it is quite a personal taste, so beware the bitters!

Green Tea Latte (cold)
A friend described this as "I feel like I could go to sleep after drinking this", which is a pretty apt description.  There wasn't much of a green tea flavour save for the sprinkles on top (much like the tiramisu) but the drink was incredibly milky.  I'm quite used to my green tea lattes being strongly green tea so these were too weak for me.  It could be ideal for someone who isn't so into heavy green tea flavouring though.

Overall it was a mixed experience.  From what I've heard, it seems the green tea soft serve and green tea icecream are the ones which are most well-liked, a statistic which I agree with wholeheartedly.  The softserves are pretty amazing.  The rest of the dessert menu is a bit hit-and-miss though.

The staff are in the kitchen a lot of the time so it's hard to flag someone down if you need to order or want to ask a question.  Once you've get their attention though, they're extremely helpful and friendly.  Here's a tip: if you stay until closing time, they have to clean out their ice-cream machine and you may just score a free icecream!

Matcha House on Urbanspoon

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