Matcha and what!?: A new matcha experience at Itoh Kyuemon

Matcha is a must have when you visit Kyoto. Let’s look at the new potential of matcha pursued by Itoh Kyuemon in Uji.

Itoh Kyuemon is a tea shop founded in Uji in 1832. It is very popular for its matcha sweets, not to mention its high-quality teas. This time, we visited one of their branches located in front of JR Uji Station. The shop also has a tearoom, so not only can you purchase Itoh Kyuemon’s classic souvenirs such as “Ujikomochi” (rice cakes with Uji matcha powder) and “Ochame san” (freeze-dried strawberries wrapped in matcha chocolate), but you can also enjoy sweets and specialty dishes made with matcha.

The first thing we ordered at the tearoom was one of Kyoto’s specialty dishes, Nishin Soba, which is a bowl of soba noodles topped with herring, simmered with soy sauce and sugar. Surprisingly, the tearoom serves Nishin Soba made with matcha soba noodles.

Nishin soba with yuba / Tax-included price ¥1,190

The fusion of matcha and Nishin Soba creates a comforting taste with a perfect harmony between matcha, sweetly-cooked herring, and broth with a light and clear taste. It also comes with yuba (tofu skin), which is also a specialty of Kyoto, letting you enjoy the traditional tastes of Kyoto. Moreover, it is garnished with tea leaves, which has been boiled in soy sauce, and it also tastes amazing with its distinctive gentle bitterness. You can also purchase dried matcha soba noodles at the shop, so you can enjoy the taste at home too. The product lineup also includes “Uji Matcha Fettuccine,” pasta noodles made with matcha as well as carbonara sauce made with matcha, so both matcha lovers and pasta lovers should definitely try them. According to the shop, other than the dried noodles, matcha curry and hojicha keema curry are also recommended. The combination of tea and curry is very unique, but both are very popular according to the shop. Despite the fact that it is a long-established company, Itoh Kyuemon offers a wide variety of products for enjoying matcha in many different ways.

Inside the shop

Uji Matcha Curry 180g, one serving / Tax-included price ¥594 (left) Uji Hojicha Keema Curry 180g, one serving / Tax-included price ¥540 (right)

After enjoying the fusion of matcha and soba noodles, we ordered a parfait that lets you enjoy matcha to your heart’s content. Since it was November, we decided to try “Momiji Matcha Parfait,” available only during November.

Momiji Matcha Parfait / Tax-included price ¥1,390

Not only does the parfait feature the color palette of autumn in Japan, but it is also full of autumn ingredients. Autumn flavors such as maple-colored “kinton” with matcha paste, a sweetly-simmered chestnut with the inner skin, and sweet potato cream taste perfect with matcha jelly and red beans. It is a decadent dessert that lets you enjoy both matcha and autumn flavors at the same time. As of now (January 2024), Matcha Chocolate Parfait and Strawberry Matcha Parfait are available for a limited time. If you are visiting Kyoto, go enjoy the amazing paring of matcha, “nama” chocolate (a type of ganache unique to Japan), and strawberries. The limited-time menu is on the official website, so make sure to check it out before going there.

Matcha Chocolate Parfait(scheduled for mid-December to mid-February only) Tea Set / Tax-included price ¥1,790; Single item / Tax-included price ¥1,390 (left) Strawberry Matcha Parfait(scheduled for mid-January to mid-April only) Tea Set / Tax-included price ¥1,790; Single item / Tax-included price ¥1,390 (right)

Always striving to be a welcoming and comfortable tea shop, Itoh Kyuemon continues to try out new things while expanding the horizon of matcha through a wide variety of foods such as matcha-herring soba noodles and matcha curry. It’s about 20 minutes from Kyoto Station to Uji Station, and the shop is just across the road from Uji Station. Why not enjoy matcha in different ways at Itoh Kyuemon when you visit Kyoto?

■DATA Itoh Kyuemon JR Uji Station Shop Address: 16-1 Ujiumoji, Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture Opening hours: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Last order at 5:30 p.m.) Open 365days except January 1st Tel. 0774-22-0475 Official website: https://www.itohkyuemon.co.jp/corporate/shop/jruji/

(Information as of December 2023.)

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