The Japanese’s dedication to perfection just amazes me again, and again. There we were at Hashida Garo, a Japanese tea gallery (‘Garo’ means ‘gallery’) where we sat around a U-shaped tea-ceremony performance stage.
Our matcha was to be prepared skilfully by a Japanese Tea Master in kimono on the tatami platform, almost like a formal procession.
The price of the Matcha preparation and presentation at the table was $30.
“That is $5 for that sip.” We might have joked a while, but the Master was dedicated in her craft from preparation to serving.
“Hold the cup like that on left hand… support like this…yes, yes…”
Hashido Garo is the second venture by Chef Kenjiro ‘Hatch’ Hashida from Hashida Sushi, specialising in traditional Japanese sweets wagashi and Japanese tea.
The sweets available included a mixture of Japanese Wagashi and more modern interpretations, such as Yuzu, Matcha and Hojicha Macarons ($3.50) each, Chocolate Yokan ($5), Hokkaido Cheese Cake ($3), and Kobosu Sorbet ($5).
One of my favourites was the Mizu Manjyu Water Dumplings ($15) where sweet white bean paste and fruit are wrapped in translucent jelly, in refreshing chilled mint syrup.
There was a touch of yuzu zest that was uplifting, and interestingly this dessert was inspired by the local ‘ang gu kueh’.
The Chocolate Yokan ($5) looked like a cake, but had jelly-like texture, red-bean meet chocolate taste and a dash of sea-salt. Eat them slowly and appreciate their intricacies.
If you are still in the SG50 mood, get the Merlion Monaka ($5) with sweet kaya and white bean paste fillings. For a limited period. The sweets though small, are satisfying.
More affordable tea from sencha handpicked by Chef Hashida ($10), Fukamushi Sencha Ei ($5) to Black Tea and Vegetable Tea are also available. They come without the elaborate ceremony.
Time seem to take a stand-still during those 10 to 15 minutes or so while the master was working her craft. For once, we working class Singaporeans who couldn’t keep our hands off the mobiles and chatting, were just observing how the tea was prepared.
Every step was slow and meticulous, and it brought me to another world.
333A Orchard Road #04-16 Mandarin Gallery, Singapore 238897
Tel: +65 91593177
Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm