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The Dish: Traditional Japanese green tea meets innovative flavors at Shuhari Matcha Cafe in Venice




Lori Galarreta/KPCC

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This summer on our food series, the Dish, which takes a look at all the great eats in Southern California:

We’ve taken you to Mofongos in North Hollywood, Greenbar Distillery in Downtown LA and Kim Hoa Hue in San Gabriel Valley, just to name a few.

But how about some dessert? Maybe something sweet and cold to help with the heat.

Shuhari Matcha Cafe opened in Venice last month and it offers up some refreshing treats that combine the traditional matcha drink with the innovative flavors of LA.

For more, our producer Lori Galarreta spoke to Green "Tea-e-o", Sam Murata, about the company behind the cafe, their mission, and topped it off with a little sundae demonstration.

The story behind the name

"Our store name Shuhari is Japanese word and concept, that's often found in Japanese martial arts as a stage of learning," explained Murata.

It's apparent that everything in at the Shuhari Matcha cafe is carefully thought out in an effort to carry out the restaurant's mission which is to combine the traditional with the new.

Lori Galarreta/KPCC

Murata continued by breaking down the name of the cafe, "'Shu' means respect tradition or basics. 'Ha' means break through the boundaries and 'Ri' is a departure or development of revolutionary new things that you have not ever seen."

Combining tradition and modern flavors

The cafe's business model, which combines Japanese green tea traditions with modern life flavors is especially visible in its menu selection.

"In our Shuhari Matcha cafe, we care about Matcha in this traditional way is because we respect the tradition," said Murata, "But at the same time why we offer like a sweetened latte with the kinako and black sugar in it is because...it's tasty and people like it...so that's sort of like a 'Ha' category drink"

Lori Galarreta/KPCC

Murata continued to list examples off of the menu which creatively combine old and new, "And the Matcha sparklers...Green tea with carbonation? Why not? People here in the states like soda or beers, I do like beers and sodas, so why don't we offer a carbonated tea beverage? That's how we develop Matcha sparklers and that is sort of "Ri" category."

"So, we like to represent the store in our store menus," said Murata, "Apart from beverages, we have desserts and we've come with the recipe with one condition, that is to complement tea, because we're a tea house. Our signature dessert item is a sundae."

A sundae demonstration

Erissa Takeda, cafe staff at Shuhari proceeded to give a step-by-step tutorial of the Matcha Affogato sundae.

For about $8, this sundae includes two scoops of green tea ice cream, one scoop of vanilla ice cream, Adzuki beans (sweet red bean paste), Matcha sauce, cornflakes, Kuromitsu (black sugar), Kinako (ground up soy beans), freeze dried raspberries, and some whipped cream to top it off.

"It has the creamy and the crunch...all the textures you need in a sundae," said Takeda.

 

"One person could easily finish this but I would share it with someone else. It's pretty big," advised Takeda. So remember, if you get one, be kind and share.

To hear the full segment, click the blue play button above.