Hvala has come a long way since its beginning days as a waffles kiosk at 313@somerset.
After it switched to specialising matcha, it has done well enough to open up a few Japanese-style cafes – at CHIJMES and Onze Tanjong Pagar.
This Japanese teahouse is what I would describe as a little oasis in busy downtown.
Not many people would know of its existence (yet), just footsteps away from the busy Somerset MRT station.
The space located at TripleOne Somerset has got almost full-white look with minimalist touch, natural daylight, and Japanese zen-like vibes.
In modern day terms, very instagrammable.
The teahouse is designed such that there are steps in which customers can sit on and sip on matcha latte.
(While I am on this topic, I would recommend people especially girls to think about how to sit and place their legs. This is still not home after all.)
What I appreciated was there are different sections with varying seating arrangements, so those who come alone can enjoy some ‘me’ time, while friends can sit around a table in a group.
I am not entirely sure about the choice of piano music though to create that mood, similar to what I would hear in some Chinese dim sum restaurants.
Similar to the CHIJMES outlet, you can sit at the counter where you can watch the staff prepare tea on the spot.
The menu is categorised into Hot Brew ($4.80), Cold Brew (Cup $5.20 – $6.80/ Bottle $7 – $8), Hot/ Iced Whisked Matcha (Premium $5.30/ Ceremonial $8.80), Hot/ Iced Tea Latte ($5.80), Iced Blend ($5.50-6), Ice Cream ($5.20) and Cakes ($7.80).
Their signature item is the Tea Latte ($5.80) that comes in Matcha, Houjicha and Matcha Houjicha.
The difference is the Matcha powder used here, in this case Tsuki matcha, which has distinctive and pronounced vegetal notes with a certain degree of umami-ness similar to that of seaweed.
In terms of desserts, available selection includes Belgium Waffles ($8.80), Chaffogato ($7.80), Lava Cake ($8.80) in flavours of matcha and chocolate.
A selection of cakes such as Goma (Sesame), Chocolate Truffle, Honey Earl Grey Hazelnut, Mango Lavender, Tiramisu, Red Velvet, Lemon Meringue, Sweet Potato, and Matcha Azuki are available.
Each slice is priced at $7.80.
I would generally recommend both the Goma and Sweet Potato, which are the more unique ones and pair better with say a Cold Brew Tea.
Also, the Goma had a delicious, earthy black sesame flavour, matched with smooth and moist texture.
The Houjicha slice, which I believe is a relatively new offering, could have been on the dryer side, and more of that Houjicha-ness would have been better. (I heard that they have phased this cake out.)
Go for their Houjicha Petit Gateau ($8.80) is actually made used hojicha rated in Wazuka Japan – roasted to Hvala’s specifications. This results in a blend of roasty aroma and fragrant nuttiness.
Each mouthful brings quite a contrast of varied textures from the layers of mousse, crumble and sponge – both moist and creamy.
I enjoyed that there was this strong houjicha flavour, plus not overly sweet.
I think Hvala has managed to carve out a niche for themselves, in finding that sweet spot between offering quality Japanese tea with some modern interpretation.
If you are finding a place for that quiet time with matcha, this could be it.
Hvala – TripleOne Somerset
111 Somerset Road, Singapore 238164
Opening Hours: 12pm – 9:30pm (Mon – Sun)