The charming Uji Café (215 Rideau Street) only had its soft opening last Wednesday, but you wouldn’t know it from the buzzing clientele and warm atmosphere.
Named after the city of Uji in Kyoto Prefecture – home to the world’s oldest tea house and famed as Japan’s leading producer of premium matcha – Uji Café makes it very clear what they pride themselves on: quality green tea. All of their desserts and beverages are made in-house, consulted by a chef from Uji, and they only use imported matcha.
The café is spacious and attentively decorated with a theme of greenery and rabbits, offering an array of Japanese magazines and tea books for customers to peruse and a peek at the cheesecake-making process in the kitchen at the back. Despite having soft opened just last Wednesday, several students appeared to be making use of the available wifi and had already adopted the café as a new study spot.
Having tasted samples of their original and matcha cheesecakes – both creamier and richer than ones I’ve had in Toronto – I ordered the houjicha (roasted green tea) shaved ice and a cheese tart. The standout menu item, however, was the complimentary matcha latte my friend received when her order was briefly forgotten – sweet, but less cloying than the versions in your typical coffee chain, and well-balanced by the refreshing bitterness that is characteristic of matcha.
In the 90 minutes I spent there, the place went from sparsely occupied to near full capacity with a line at the counter almost a dozen deep. It’s a good thing Uji Café looks ready for Ottawa, since Ottawa seems more than ready for it.