We had a lot to eat for lunch on the afternoon we decided to pay Kissako Uji Matcha Café a visit, but once we entered, we thought, screw it; all we wanted to do was to scarf down everything in the cake display—slices of strawberry shortcake with berries so plump it would be a grave sin to not bite into, luscious rolls of matcha cakes, tempting with their irresistible green and studded with red bean. Smooth, cloud-like Japanese cheesecakes made it even harder for us to decide what to get, and the list of drinks on the menu are another story.
Kissako comes armed with matcha lattes that you can opt to have iced, but they also have an assortment of Japanese teas such as Gyokuro, a special kind of sencha tealeaf that is purposely grown under a shade, the popular hand-rolled Jo-Sencha, and my personal favorite, Hojicha, which is roasted over charcoal to give it a slightly smoky flavor. Horiguchi coffee is also served here, known for the meticulous care the Japanese put into its handling and the coffee’s clean finish. You can have it straight up black, or as an espresso, Americano, cappuccino, latte, or mocha.
There was a lot of debate whether Kissako’s Strawberry Shortcake took over our favorite one from Bebe Rouge. The cake was so light we couldn’t tell it apart from the cream that clung to it. Going through the cake-cream-strawberry-cake-cream-geleé-cream-cake layers is tricky business—you have to be careful that it doesn’t collapse into a soft, cloudy heap because it’s the kind of cake you’d like to appreciate best as a whole than in deconstructed bits.
The matcha Japanese cheesecake was not our favorite item on the menu. It is a cake too fragile that it surrenders to crumbs when pierced with a fork, which will eventually make you reach out for a spoon to shovel the bits with. Taste-wise, it was more cheese than matcha—hardly any of the green tea flavor our taste buds anticipated.
Kissako’s matcha shortcake though made up for whatever the cheesecake lacked—packed with green tea flavor, down to the cream it was topped with. The buttons of milk chocolate, though unnecessary, gave it a familiar sweetness that would probably be a great tactic to make kids ease up to the earthy flavor of the matcha.
Their matcha latte is best enjoyed warm or iced only—never in between. Otherwise you will only find yourself sticking your tongue out because of the odd mismatch between the strong, bold flavor thinned out in a beverage with an unpalatable temperature and a bit of a gritty texture. My personal favorite, though, was the Iced Choco Hojicha, which transported me to one of my favorite cafés in Hong Kong, Teakha, which serves an incredible Hojicha au Lait.
Given the ubiquity of Matcha and green tea in Metro Manila, you’d think that Kissako is ‘just another café’—and I won’t say that it isn’t, but come here for tea and their matcha offerings. With a menu this concise and straightforward, it is hard to mess up, and I will definitely be back for more matcha shortcake and that iced chocolate Hojicha drink.