Talk about matcha and three brands may come to mind: Hvala, Matchaya, and Tsujiri, all specialising in matcha drinks and desserts.
Just a stone throw away from their 3rd outlet at Keong Saik, Hvala has opened their 4th outlet along Craig Road, near Shake Shack and Ballad of Anna May.
Started off as a waffles kiosk at 313@somerset and subsequently opened a few Japanese-style cafes over the years at CHIJMES, TripleOne Somerset and Keong Saik, Hvala has shifted their focus to offering vegan options.
Here at their newest outlet, their entire menu is fully vegan, meaning no eggs, dairy products and other animal-derived ingredients are incorporated.
It is a challenge as most consumers are already used to how a usual cake, tart, latte or even gelato will taste like.
With over 70 vegan items on their menu, customers can keep a lookout for Warabi Mochi ($4.80), Waffles. ($11.80), Hanami Dango ($8.80), Sliced Cakes ($9.80), Gelato (Single $5.80 – $7.80), Soy Tea Latte ($5.80), ice Blend ($6.50 – $7) and Cold Brew ($6.80 – $7.80).
Their new outlet at Craig Road is shaped like a long art gallery with a total of 20 tables and a section with sunlight pouring through their sunroof.
New on their menu are the Warabi Mochi ($4.80) that comes in 5 different flavours: Kinako, Matcha, Hojicha, Goma and Yuzu.
Comes with Japanese kuromitsu (black sugar) by the side, customers can choose to drizzle it over the Warabi mochi or simply dip into it for extra sweetness.
The Yuzu Warabi Mochi ($4.80) is wobbly and pretty chewy, with distinctive citrus notes that is refreshing and not overpowering.
My favourite was the Warabi Mochi with Gelato ($8.80) served with home-made Kinako Warabi mochi and a scoop of Matcha Level 1 gelato.
The kinako (roasted soybean flour) added some depth to the creamy, robust and umami matcha gelato, giving it an earthy and distinctive flavour.
Using soy milk for their in-house tart shells, the Matcha Mont Blanc ($8.80) comes with matcha chestnut purée on top, fresh cream and black sesame sponge cake layer in the middle on top of their homemade vegan tart.
While I enjoyed the chestnut puree and the light and fluffy oat milk cream, the tart base turned out to be a tad too moist and dense, not as crumbly and flaky as I expected.
Their signature is their Dairy-Free Waffles ($11.80) first introduced at their Keong Saik outlet, which had subsequently converted to a different concept serving plated desserts.
Made using oatmilk instead of incorporating the usual butter and fresh milk, the dairy-free waffle was more airy and less dense compared to normal waffle due to the less creamy oat milk used.
Without using butter, the aroma from the waffles was mainly attributed to the cinnamon powder used, which surprisingly tasted Christmasy.
12 gelato flavours ($5.80 – $7.80) are available at any one time, all vegan using soy milk instead of fresh milk.
Think Matcha Level 1 and Level 2, Genmaicha, Hojicha, Goma (Black Sesame), Matcha Cookies & Cream, Hazelnut, Oatmilk and Strawberry/ Chocolate/ Yuzu/ Rockmelon sorbet.
My favourite was the Goma (Black Sesame) which has a smoother texture compared to their non-vegan counterpart.
Without dairy-milk, the vegan Goma Gelato is now lighter, refreshing and less jelak, yet still retaining the pronounced roasted and nutty notes from the sesame seeds.
Hvala has continued to evolve and change over the years but still maintained the quality and consistency in their new vegan market.
Hvala – Craig Road
40 Craig Road, Singapore 089678
Opening Hours: 12pm – 9:30pm (Mon – Wed – Sun), Closed Tues
* Written by Nicholas Tan @stormscape who loves all things [NEW]. DFD paid for food reviewed unless otherwise stated.