SHUHARI Matcha Café | Venice Beach's Favorite Matcha Haven
I've always been a fan of matcha, but never knew too much about the history behind it. I was only familiar with matcha lattes or matcha tea that's often offered at regular coffee shops. Little did I know, there is a whole world of delicious and unexpected food and drink out there that are made with matcha!
I recently discovered SHUHARI Matcha Café in Venice Beach, a small, trendy matcha café that spotlights a ton of green tea drinks and Japanese fusion fare. Located on Abbott Kinney, it's an inviting spot with a giant open window letting passer-byers on the street take a peak at all of the matcha-themed treats inside.
I was greeted by Takeshi Yamamura, the manager of SHUHARI and he explained in detail how his café came about. Originally from Japan, he brought what he knew from home (with over 30 years of experience in the business of bringing green tea over to the United States) and past jobs to ultimately create the dream matcha haven that is SHUHARI in Venice Beach. He first explained an old Japanese saying that he lives by:
SHU (守): To savor centuries of tradition
HA (破): To shake things up, break the rules
RI (離): To achieve independence and a new sense of creativity
With his café, he wanted to reinterpret the classic traditions with matcha by adding a modern twist to each item. That's how the name for the café came about!
I took a brief tour around SHUHARI to explore the different goodies on the wall for take-home purposes to create yummy matcha drinks at home.
I was so surprised at how many items there really were to enjoy matcha, and it's because there's several ways that you can!
According to the SHUHARI's website,
Matcha is made of Ten-cha leaves, which are Gyokuro leaves that have not been rolled into needles. Unlike whole leaf tea, which is steeped, matcha is served by whisking powdered tea in hot water. It contains a higher amount of nutrients (vitamins, amino acids, polyphenols and fiber) than other teas, and its flavor is densely rich – almost creamy – compared to other teas. Matcha is traditionally used for Japanese tea ceremonies, but in recent years has gained popularity across the globe, and now comes in different grades for different uses.
I started off by trying one of SHUHARI's original specialties: The Matcha Sparklers! I'd say the equivalent to this is like a sweet soda... except this one is healthy! I got to sample the Fresh Mint Matcha Sparkler, the Pineapple Matcha Sparkler and the Yuzu Matcha Sparkler.
Seriously, they were all amazing, and are made with the café's fresh carbonated water. But my favorite by far was the mint! It's so refreshing, especially on a hot day. The matcha gives that kick of energy - it's the perfect drink to sip on when need a pick me up and are craving something bubbly and sweet!
Then, I tried the Matcha Lattes. I am a total sucker for lattes, and I was in for a real treat when I tried the iced Cinnamon Matcha Latte and the iced Matcha Kinako Latte. The cinnamon was more on the sweeter side, while the kinako had more of a nuttier taste because it's made of soybean powder. Both had a very distinct (and addictive!) taste and smooth texture. It's quite refreshing, it really hits the spot when you're in the mood for a latte but don't want to get that crash you get from coffee.
Yes, PSA - you don't crash from matcha! All the more reasons to love it.
My tasting didn't stop at just the drinks - SHUHARI offers some delightful bites too, fit for satisfying any palate - sweet and savory!
Takeshi showed me the cafe's specialty Onigirazu, the Japanese hybrid onigri sandwich, aka a sushi sandwich.
I'm a big sushi fan, and these sandwiches are just the better version... because you get to eat more of it!
The Spicy California was the classic sandwich, similar to the California roll. How does Siracha smothered crab, avocado and cucumber sound? It's universally a top pick.
The Creamy Wasabi Tuna Heart of Palm was by far my favorite! Think of it as a tuna salad with a kick.
The last sushi sandwich I tried was the Pork Ginger, a delicious combination of seaweed, rice, and soy ginger simmered pork loin slices.
After sampling the sushi sandwiches, I tried one of the SHUHARI sliders - the Miso Walnut Pumpkin Salad! Mmmm was this good. It was crunchy and smooth all in one. I am a complete sucker for anything pumpkin, so it was a pleasant surprise that SHUHARI offered this. This is definitely a slider that even if you aren't big on the pumpkin flavor in general, you'll still like because of its delicious miso and nutty flavor from the walnuts!
Then, I tried the Strawberry Balsamic Glaze Toasted Bread Roll. Another one of SHUHARI's specialties, this dish is not only aesthetically pleasing, but sweet and fluffy too. I love the marriage of the strawberry and the balsamic, and it even has some matcha powdered on top of it as well! The strawberries that sit on the fluffy bun just melt in your mouth. It's a super satisfying bite!
My last indulgence was one of SHUHARI's best sellers - The Matcha Sundae! It is pretty massive, but totally worth every bite! While it's packed with a ton of flavor from the matcha and the "fudge" made from soybeans, it really is the most fitting dessert for someone with a sweet tooth.. and who needs an energy boost! This seriously was hard to put down, and it's totally Instagram worthy. Takeshi says it's one of his top menu items that his customers take photo after photo of!
Takeshi ended my visit by showing me how he makes ceremonial matcha tea, the most traditional way to serve matcha and the way that most of the Japanese culture drinks it - with breakfast, lunch and dinner!
He took the powder in a bowl and whisked it for several seconds with hot water. Served in a little tea mug, it's a wonderfully satisfying tea to sip and felt so cool to experience matcha the way it has been originally drunk for centuries.
SHUHARI Café is truly a gem on Abbot Kinney, and it's a spot where you'll get both a cultural experience and great food and drink all in one. I love that SHUHARI is the only of its kind in LA, it's making matcha a household name in the world of tea and coffee. SHUHARI is more than just a matcha café... it's a destination!
Visit SHUHARI Matcha Café at:
1522 Abbott Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291