While many Japanese Cafes in Singapore are imports, Matchaya is a home-grown brand that has enjoyed quite a following.
Matchaya started off with pop-ups and a kiosk at Icon Village, which has just ended operations as they wanted to channel resources to a fuller-fledged café concept.
After 2 months of renovation at The Cathay, Matchaya has expanded to a bigger seating area with 18 seats, and an impressive menu offering more than 80 items.
The expanded menu includes Sandwiches ($6.90 – $8.90), Kiaseki- style Mains ($13.90 – $16.90), Drinks ($5 – $8), Ice Cream ($5.90 – $8), Parfaits ($8.50 – $14.90), Kakigori ($14.90) and Cakes ($6 – $9).
There is a new section where matcha and tea are freshly whisked and prepared on the spot, stimulating both our eyes and nose.
Interesting flavours include Burnt Shizuoka Oolong (Hot $5/ Cold $5.50), Matcha Chokoreto (Cold $6) with matcha, milk and chocolate, Caramel Popcorn aka Genmaicha (Hot $5.50/ Cold $6) and Pure Sweet Potato (Hot $6/ Cold $6.50).
What is special about their matcha is that it is specially sourced directly from tea farms in Japan (4nd generation tea farmers in Uji and 3rd generation grand tea-master in Shizuoka), and only the flush spring harvest shaded green tea is utilized.
The leaves are shaded for a minimum of 14 days, and matcha prepared using soft water and optimum temperature of 70-80 degrees celsius to extract the right proportion of caffeine, umami (amino acid) and catechin.
I had the Signature Koicha Milk (Hot $7/ Cold $7.50), made using Ceremonial grade Uji matcha powder imported from Kyoto, Japan.
The matcha was fragrant and distinctive with every sip, coupled with vegetal notes and umami-ness that is similar to seaweed.
On the other hand, the Caramel Popcorn aka Genmaicha (Hot $5.50/ Cold $6) was a tad diluted without the satisfaction I get from the Signature Koicha Milk.
Another of their highlight is definitely their pastries, placed in their glass chiller.
The crowd favourite is the Koicha Azuki Roll Cake ($6) made with generous amount of ceremonial matcha and Chantilly cream, Azuki red beans and 100% activated charcoal sponge cake.
Moist and fluffy on the outside, yet oozing with rich and distinctive matcha cream, I would say possibly worth the calories.
For the matcha-holics, more matcha powder is sprinkled on the plate to satisfy your craving.
I appreciate the sweetness from the Azuki red beans that cuts through the rich and bitter matcha cream, keeping the balance in this dessert.
The Matcha Yuzu Tart ($8.50) is shaped liked a lemon meringue tart, with matcha curd and dollops of yuzu within it, set on top of a chocolate tart base.
Light, citrusy and refreshing with a smooth matcha curd, this Matcha Yuzu tart is the middle ground for those who fancy matcha desserts but not to the extreme extent.
For non-matcha options, Mille Crepe Cakes come in 2 different flavours: Black Sesame ($8.50) or Lavender Earl Grey ($9).
I was quite skeptical about the latter flavour as it might turn out smelling like a perfume or the air-freshener in my toilet.
The Lavender Earl Grey ($9) turned out to be a surprise (and not in a shocking bad way), with very moist cream in between the soft, delicate layers of crepe.
The lavender smell was subtle and not overpowering, yet the earl grey taste is still detectable.
Matchaya has transformed over the years from a takeaway kiosk to a teahouse that encourages interaction the tea masters and the patrons, much like cafes these days with a pourover bar.
With their wide array of matcha and non-matcha desserts, this might be the next hangout place after meals.
Matchaya – The Cathay
The Cathay, #01-08/09, 2 Handy Road, Singapore 229233
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm (Sun – Thu), 11am – 10.30pm (Fri – Sat)
* Written by Nicholas Tan @stormscape who loves all things [NEW]. DFD paid for food reviewed unless otherwise stated.