Thursday, April 2, 2015

Fukujuen Kyoto 福寿園 (Since 1790) : 6-Storey Building dedicated to Matcha

It is difficult to avoid the word “matcha” when one is traveling in Kyoto. All the tourist commodities are replete with matcha related items and matcha parfaits are probably one of the most common dessert you can find anywhere in Kyoto. I was getting bored of all the green tea parfaits and decided to head to Fukujuen since it has quite a unique dessert menu that plays around with green tea.
In fact, I never thought much about Fukujuen until I visited their French tea kaiseki restaurant in Tokyo. Fukujuen is one of the most respected and oldest tea merchants in Kyoto since 1790. It's main factory is located in Uji city and there is also a unique Fukujuen CHA Experience Park in Kizugawa City, southern of Kyoto.  Fukujuen occupies a 6th__storey building in the central shopping district of Kyoto along Shijo-dori and every level is dedicated to a different concept—tea drinking; tea-infused French cuisine; matcha classroom—but the 2nd floor is for Japanese style sweets.

I am not exaggerating but ALL the desserts we had were excellent, even the Matcha Cream  Parfait (1143 yen) was the best I had so far. It may not be the most photogenic parfait but it has many hidden qualities that would only be revealed as you dig deep into the tall glass.
What strikes out here is the robustly bitter matcha and houjicha jelly. The ice cream is only limited to the two scoops at the top (one is matcha and one is houjicha) so it is balanced and not too creamy dessert.
For those without a sweet tooth, try the new creation, kuzu-kiri with green tea sauce 抹茶蜜のくずきり(972 yen). These jelly strips that look like transparent kway teow are made with premium starch from arrowroot plant and tastes neutral unless you add in the sweet green tea sauce. This is also served with a small but substantial cup of matcha jelly with red bean.
The Matcha Ice Anmitsu  抹茶アイスのあんみつ (977 yen) is also another ideal choice that contains houjicha kanten jelly and kuromitsu sauce which you can add at your discretion.

Matcha Crème Brulee 抹茶ブリュレ (1131 yen)
Our favourite dessert was the Matcha Crème Brulee 抹茶ブリュレ (1131 yen); a perfect amalgation of the best genes from the French and the Japanese. It is rich, creamy but highly restrained in sweetness. The Matcha Chiffon Cake 抹茶シフォンケーキ(1,188 yen) is another gorgeous stack of fluffy cake sandwiched with ultra-light matcha cream—as if we were eating matcha clouds.
The dessert platter デザート盛り合わせ(1,234 yen) changes daily. On our visit, our platter consists of a green tea mousse layered cake, chocolate chiffon, the same matcha jelly as the earlier kuzu-kiri set and warabi-mochi. This was still good but the least impressive as the matcha sponge was dry, though the chocolate chips in the chocolate chiffon added interest to a predictable cake.
The only problem with this place is that it has only matcha cappuccino or tea on the beverage menu. Coffee lovers might not be satisfied but the matcha cappuccino (available as ala carte on add-on to the set at 308 yen) is definitely worth a try. Though it is nowhere near a cup of coffee, this resembled a bowl of whisked matcha added with unsweetened milk.
Simple and heart-warming.
 福寿園 Fukujuen Kyoto Honten (Main Shop)
Kyoto-shi Shijou-Dori Tominokoji 2F Kyo no Charyo
〒600-8005 京都市下京区四条通富小路角
Daily 11am-7pm

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