japan, seattle

Will travel for matcha

If I had to pick my favorite food, it would be cheese, closely followed by matcha parfaits.

Although, I really love anything matcha.

Matcha tea. Matcha lattes. Matcha pound cake. Matcha roll cake. Matcha cookies. Matcha mochi. You get the idea.

It’s hard to find good matcha though.

I am in no means a matcha snob. I’ll order matcha mattes at Starbucks but usually ask for it unsweetened. Any other coffee shop, I am usually wary of their matcha unless it is run by Asians, or, they somehow indicate that they are matcha aficionados.

So, you can see why I am in matcha heaven whenever I go to Japan.

I try to eat as much matcha soft serve and parfaits as my stomach can handle — which is usually once a day — since we usually walk a lot when we are in Japan.

Several years ago my cousin introduced me to Nana’s Green Tea in Tokyo. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it’s a chain that produces matcha drinks and desserts. And, it was so good. We went to one in Tokyo and I ordered the matcha parfait with warabi mochi.

The mochi was so soft I wanted to sleep on it like a pillow. Sure, I could have done without the whip cream but that would mean no matcha syrup drizzle on top! This would become my new dessert staple when visiting Japan.

A year after this first introduction, I was back in Japan and went to Nana’s in Yokohama and I thought about trying a different dessert. But, of course, got the parfait with warabi mochi again. When you know what you like, why change it? It was still so good.

Then last year I learned that a Nana’s had opened up in Vancouver, BC. I go to Vancouver all the time! (OK, by all the time, I mean at least once a year since it’s not too far from Seattle).

The Vancouver location is in the outskirts of town but Bryce and I made a stop after a weekend of already eating a lot in the city. It was last summer and Nana’s had just recently opened there so it was pretty crowded. I was thrown aback that they had pretty bad customer service  — “This would NOT fly in Japan!” I thought. On top of that, they were out of warabi mochi so I couldn’t order my go-to dessert! I settled for the regular matcha parfait and it was still tasted good.

But, it was a little tainted by the experience of their employee not being willing to give us small change when we paid (so that we could pay for street parking) when we had purchased one parfait and a cup of matcha that easily added up to nearly $20 with tax!

When she handed up back big bills and we asked for coins, response was “We don’t do that here,” followed by what I took as an eye roll.

You don’t do good customer service?? (They also had a sign that said each person in your party needed to order their own beverage or dessert. Originally Bryce wasn’t going to order anything because he wasn’t really hungry. I don’t ever remember seeing signage like this in Japan. OK, rant about the Vancouver Nana’s over!)

Despite the weird experience in Canada, I was excited to hear Seattle would be getting its own Nana’s. Finally, good matcha will be in my home town! I can have my favorite matcha parfait all the time now! When I learned the location would be downtown Seattle, I was a little disappointed since it’s a pretty inconvenient location. No parking. Always traffic to get downtown.

It opened last fall so I waited for the initial crowds to die down. My friend Nikki and I finally tried it last night after work. It ended up being a nice 25-minute walk from my office. I was delighted that this location had a lot of seating, natural lighting and friendly employees. (I also did not see a sign that enforced a minimum purchase requirement, which I appreciated).

I ordered the matcha parfait, with of course, warabi mochi. Nikki ordered a seasonal matcha parfait with matcha chocolate. They were both tasty!

My parfait tasted just like the ones I have enjoyed in Japan. And, I was happy to enjoy it in the good company of a close friend.

But, there’s just something about eating matcha in Japan that makes it taste just a little better. Maybe because I’ve always pictured it as a “special treat” that I eat while on vacation. Maybe because I associate it with my nostalgia of Japan from childhood.

I’m looking forward to my next visit to Japan, whenever that may be, and knowing that if I ever get a little homesick for my favorite matcha dessert, it’s only a 25-minute walk away.

 

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