If you are a matcha lover and you live in Vancouver, I’m betting 100 bucks that you’ve heard of the anticipated opening of the first Tsujiri Japanese Matcha Cafe in Vancouver! I have driven past the storefront that says “Tsujiri: COMING SOON” sign for almost a year now and let me tell you, the wait is finally over! Their official grand opening will be February 14th, 2019 and they’re located in the Central at Garden City Plaza (where Walmart Richmond is).
As I type this right now, I still feel so blessed to have been one of the few media personnel chosen to attend their preview event. I know a lot of people are like me who are HIGHLY ANTICIPATING their arrival and if they’re truly like me, they’d want to read all about it before they go. That’s why I’ve put together this super extensive sneak peek so you can know EXACTLY what to expect before lining up (because c’mon, of course there’s going to be a line up)!
The whole restaurant is quite small and can seat about 20-ish people at the front and maybe about another 12 at the back (Soba Bar – I’ll get to it later). It’s gorgeously decorated and is literally what I think a Japanese/Matcha centric Starbucks Reserve would look like. From the decorative matcha whisks (chasen) to the soba bar where you have to take off your shoes, everything oozes Japanese culture and tea.
The restaurant is broken into two sections. The front section is for general dining and will likely be used by people enjoying their parfaits and desserts. The back portion is for reservations only and you can make reservations now via Open Table. They offer High Tea from 2-5pm and Matcha Soba from 5:30-8:30pm. You can also order from their regular menu while seated in the back!
We started off the preview event with a special taste of their cold brewed Gyokuo (highest grade of Japanese Green Tea).
This cold brew Gyokuro was one of the best tasting green tea I’ve ever had. It was extremely smooth and had robust matcha flavour – all without being too bitter. Absolutely fantastic if you love and can taste the different levels of matcha.
This is their dessert and drink menu. Their parfaits are all $14 and their drinks vary from $4 (hot tea) – $11 (cheesecake blended drink).
Their Chazuke and Sanuki Udon items can be ordered any time unlike the high tea and soba noodles.
With the highly anticipated GRAM coming to Vancouver, it’s very exciting to see Tsujiri also bringing their own matcha version of the souffle pancake.
Now on to the parfaits! This one is the Matcha Parfait ($14) and it has matcha soft serve, red bean, chestnut, roasted rice sprinkles, mochi, yuzu cheesecake, cereal flakes, matcha warabi, and hard matcha ice-cream on the bottom. It also comes with an iconic crispy tea box monaka that acts as a wafer scooper for the ice-cream.
The Houjicha Parfait ($14) is layered with hojicha ice-cream, kinako warabi mochi, red bean, mochi, yuzu rare cheesecake, chestnut, roasted rice sprinkles, and tea box monaka.
I found the Sakura Parfait ($14) to be very unique and it has matcha soft serve, matcha warabi mochi, mochi (shiratama), hidden Sakura surprise, a decorated Sakura kuzu mochi, and sweet chestnut.
Overall, my favourite is the Houjicha Parfait because I love how deep the roasted tea leaf flavours are. Their matcha is absolutely delicious but I believe the Hojicha just takes the parfait to another level.
As mentioned above, this is the back section where you can reserve for high tea, etc. In typical Japanese tradition, you have to take off your shoes before stepping onto the wood and getting seated.
Their Japanese Style High Tea ($40) comes with this amazing set along with Gyokuro (the highest grade of Japanese Green Tea as mentioned above), or Usucha (Ceremonial Grade of Matcha). Whichever tea you choose, the portion is for about 2-3 guests to enjoy.
The set has both savoury and sweet elements like this unagi matcha soba noodle dish.
The sweet platter consists of kinako warabi mochi, matcha warabi mochi, sakura mochi, another sakura rice mochi with sakura leaf wrapped around it, and a tea box monaka filled with red bean (azuki) and shiratama.
There is also a sweet matcha gateau chocolate as well a matcha and azuki layered cake.
All in all, I think the high tea set is great to share for 2-3 people (since the tea will also serve 2-3), and it’s best to order a few other items like parfait and savoury dishes so you can sample a bit of everything!
I’m so happy they have matcha soba offerings as I am a total fan of incorporating matcha into savoury dishes. This is their Zaru Soba which is soba in it’s simplest form. It’s topped with a generous amount of matcha powder and it’s accompanied by a few side items.
You will get a dollop of wasabi, some seaweed, and green onion to top your dish. I recommend adding that to your soba sauce (bottom of the picture) and then grabbing some soba noodles, and dipping them into the sauce before eating. It’s super refreshing! Do note, the matcha flavour isn’t super prominent once you dip it into the sauce.
The Tsujiri Patisserie will always have a fresh rotation of tea-inspired cakes so look out for them! This one is the azuki/matcha layered cake from the high tea set.
The Matcha Souffle Pancake and Matcha Cake in all it’s glory! I didn’t get to taste it though so I can’t speak to the flavours or make any comparisons.
Even though I had very high expectations for Tsujiri, I’d say overall I left feeling very very impressed. Throughout the night, I could feel and hear their dedication to spreading the story about matcha and what it represents. I could taste the authenticity of the real high quality Japanese matcha that they were using in their food. And ultimately, even though the prices are on the high side, I would absolutely return because I know this is an experience I can’t get really anywhere else.
Make sure to get your reservations in on Open Table soon!
Service Rating: N/A (media event)
Food Rating: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5