Growing up in SF and being involved with the Japanese and Buddhist communities here, we spent a lot of time in Japantown (J Town if you want to sound like a native :P). The restaurants always served that good Japanese comfort food, we had the aftermarket car accessories shop so we could fix up our rice rockets, and we can’t forget the Sanrio store for all your Hello Kitty stationary and school gear needs. There’s even a Daiso there now! But despite all these things helping us feel more connected to the culture, it always felt like we were missing something, but we couldn’t put our finger on it. That is, until we recently had the opportunity to attend the soft opening of Matcha Cafe Maiko, the first matcha cafe in SF! They have such a unique and tasty menu crafted around everything matcha, and you simply need to experience it for yourself to understand the quality of their ingredients and how awesome it all is.
The cafe’s flagship store is located in Honolulu, HI, and after a whole year of planning, organizing, building, and executing on their goal of expansion, we couldn’t be happier to have them set up shop in the city! Located at 1581 Webster Street Suite 175, they’re located conveniently in the Japantown Center underneath Kinokuniya book store.
We tasted just a fraction of their menu, and we enjoyed every bite! In the photo above, we first tried their Matcha Soft Serve Ice Cream (the cones). It was creamy and everything you’d expect from awesome soft serve, AND it was matcha flavored! We can’t think of another place where we’ve had matcha soft serve, so this stuff put big smiles on our faces. Matcha Cafe Maiko offers soft serve in matcha, vanilla, or a swirl of the two (recommended!).
Next up, we tried their Maiko Special (bottom left) with matcha soft serve, matcha chiffon, chestnuts, and shiratama mochi. The chiffon cake pieces were off the hook! They were spongy, soft, and melt-in-your-mouth, and complemented the soft serve perfectly. The mochi and chestnuts added some nice texture variation and made the whole experience more fun!
The last thing we tried, which turned out to be our favorite, was the Hojicha Float (bottom right). We got it with the matcha/vanilla swirl soft serve and we definitely think that’s the way to go. We loved both the matcha tea and the hojicha tea, but we actually ended up preferring the hojicha slightly more than the matcha. It’s just a bit of a different flavor profile and goes amazingly well with the ice cream.
If you’re looking for a refreshing drink on a warm day, a matcha-filled snack while hanging with your crew, or a delicious dessert to wrap up your evening, you definitely need to swing by Matcha Cafe Maiko! If you check them out, let us know what you think! Till next time, Nomsters!