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Even Kyoto locals want to eat them! Top 5 excellent green tea parfaits at Japanese-style cafes

Even Kyoto locals want to eat them! Top 5 excellent green tea parfaits at Japanese-style cafes
Yukinko
Yukinko
Updated

When we talk about Kyoto, powdered green tea is the first thing that comes to mind, isn’t it? Though tasting tea with Japanese sweets as you gaze into a garden at temples and shrines is great, how about trying a green tea parfait packed with rich and deep green tea flavor?

This time, without holding back, we introduce you to the most excellent green tea parfaits in places like Gion, which is a popular sightseeing spot in Kyoto, Nishiki-ichiba market, the so-called kitchen of Kyoto, and JR Kyoto station.

Read on for the top 5 Green Tea Parfaits in Kyoto:

Fill yourself with the sublime of green tea! Suisen parfait

The uncontested No.1 is “Tea cafe Saryou-suisen along Takatsuji-Dori street, about 5 minutes walk from Shijo-Dori street, the hub of Kyoto-sightseeing where many tourists bustle. Since it is outside the busy streets, this Japanese cafe allows you to spend some quiet time enjoying Japanese sweets. Entering traditional shop curtains on a machiya-style building, the atmosphere inside the shop is elegant and classy with tables and chairs in black color scheme.

The green tea treat recommended by “Tea cafe Saryou-suisen is "Suisen parfait”. It is a gorgeous parfait packed with green tea, including “Omatcha-mikasa” bouncy green tea pancakes with sweet bean paste inside, green tea baumkuchen, rich green tea soft cream, a piece of green tea cake and soft rice cake made from bracken. While every part of it gives you satisfaction with deep green tea flavor, the best of all is “Omatcha-mikasa” the bouncy green tea pancake filled with sweet bean paste. As the name suggests, you will get addicted to the chewy green tea pancakes of this Japanese sweet. It is even more delicious when combined with red beans, of which the sweetness is kept mild! After these bouncy pancakes, “Warabimochi” the soft bracken cake concludes it all. You can enjoy various textures in this parfait. The brown-sugar jelly and agar at the bottom of the glass are refreshing, and best suited as the finale of this parfait.

This is a green tea parfait that mature ladies would love, and a must-try in Kyoto. Suisen parfait:980 (JPY) *The shop introduced here is the Takatsuji main store.

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Kyoto "Kyonama-hu" made from wheat-starch parfait from Kaneta cafe, a good unknown spot in Nishiki-ichiba market

Nishiki-ichiba market, the so-called Kyoto’s kitchen is busy all year round. Its narrow streets are packed with shops, local shoppers and tourists. The cafe “Kaneta” is like a hide-out place that will give you relief in this hustle, as well as offering a very tasty parfait. It is really a hidden house, so you will struggle to find it. It is located in between the Gokomachi-Dori street and Fuyacho-Dori street. The ground floor is a seafood shop and the second floor is the cafe space. Watch out for the signboard written “Kaneta cafe” next to the machiya-style staircase on the right hand side in the shop! On the 2nd floor, the atmosphere of the cafe space is so quiet and calm that you may forget you are in Nishiki-ichiba market.

While Kaneta cafe offers a variety of sweets other than that of green tea flavor, the one we would like to recommend is “Kyonama-hu parfait” with a rich green tea ice cream on top. While many parfaits use shiratama rice-flour dumplings, at Kaneta cafe they use a lot of namafu made from wheat starch. This parfait consists of three kinds of namafu, green tea ice cream, green tea agar and sesame ice cream topped with whipped cream. Namafu combined with green tea ice cream makes such intricate harmony! It is an irresistible collaboration for those who love namafu and green tea.

Kaneta Cafe Address 2nd floor, Kajiya-machi 210, Fuyacho-higashiiru, Nishikikoji-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto prefecture Open from 9:00 to 18:00 Closed on Thursdays Kyoto wheat-starch parfait:850 (JPY)

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Tea lounge Koishi, already famous but we must talk about it

A 70-year-old candy maker in Kyoto runs this “Tea lounge Koishi”. It is a place you must always expect a queue, because of being very close to Gion, a hub of sightseeing in Kyoto, and Yasaka-jinja shrine. Not only the location but the taste of food there is also of first class! Sweet bean parfait with green tea cream and rice cake is great, as well as bracken cakes with green tea and brown sugar syrup. Seasonal limited-edition parfaits with strawberries and chestnuts are also excellent. However, we would like to recommend you the orthodox “Green tea parfait”.

Rich green tea ice cream and vanilla ice cream, Ogura red bean paste and shiratama rice-flour dumplings: while it might seem an ordinary parfait with these ingredients, a special feature of this parfait is a green tea jelly similar to a rice cake in terms of chewiness. It is a magical texture, something in between bracken cake and jelly. Combined with green tea syrup, the flavor becomes even deeper. If you would like more quantity, we also recommend “Green tea chiffon parfait”, accompanied by a piece of green tea chiffon cake.

Green tea parfait:980 (JPY)

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Maruto parfait, condensed green tea flavor made by a traditional tea-maker Nakamura Tokichi

Nakamura Tokichi is a traditional tea maker established 150 years ago with its main store in Uji. They actually have a Japanese style cafe on the 3rd floor of ISETAN department store in JR Kyoto station.

This traditional tea maker waited long enough before introducing “Maruto parfait”, generously packed with green tea sweets. When the waiter brings Maruto parfait, it seems to have a lid with the Chinese character “ten” on it, which is the symbol of Nakamura Tokichi. No, actually this letter “ten” is written with green tea powder on top of whipped cream. What an artistic finishing! Under the whipped cream is green tea chiffon cake, and when you eat them together it feels like a green tea roll cake! When you dig deeper with the spoon, there are shiratama rice-flour dumplings and puffy rice snacks below. Further down are big chunks of chewy green tea jelly, the famous menu of Nakamura Tokichi. No words can describe the tasty combination of this jelly with green tea syrup at the very bottom! It is a green tea parfait, or rather a green tea jelly parfait, with a new feeling that overturns the concept of jellies.

You may have no time to sit in the shop and eat because of the Shinkansen schedule. How about taking away “Green tea soft cream”, which is famous for its rich and deep flavor, from the Nakamura Tokichi takeout shop on the 2nd floor? Inside the crispy corn is a rich green tea soft cream and red beans that are mildly sweet, with chewy shiratama rice-flour dumpling added. All these for surprising 361 yen! How about buying it as a dessert to be eaten in Shinkansen?

Maruto parfait:1000 (JPY)

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Green tea parfait at Ito Kyuemon tea lounge, a shop that can only be found in Uji

“Ito Kyuemon” is a long standing tea maker in Uji operating since Edo period. You can taste “Green tea parfait” at their tea lounge which is about 5 minutes walk from Uji station. Furthermore, its price, 680 yen, is reasonable for a parfait from traditional tea-maker in Kyoto. This is very customer-friendly while parfaits in Kyoto are generally quite expensive! While Nakamura Tokichi has wonderful green tea jelly as described above, Ito Kyuemon’s jelly is also excellent. They both have about the same level of softness, but Nakamura Tokichi’s is a bit sweeter and more bouncy.

Ito Kyuemon’s green tea jelly has a bit of the characteristic bitterness of green tea. It would be great for those who do not like too much sweetness. It’s texture is almost like conventional jellies and you would be able to finish it all very easily. We recommend that you eat it together with the ice cream, as a big chunk of green tea jelly is put in between rich green tea ice cream and vanilla ice cream.

If you would like to enjoy a stronger green tea flavor, try it with a generous serving of the green tea powder that comes along with the parfait. You will feel the green tea smell lightly spreading in the air and the flavor gets deepened. This cafe is also so popular that they have a queue right from when they open, so it is recommended to go there either the first thing in the morning or in the evening.

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Green tea parfaits in Kyoto cannot be found anywhere else!

Though green tea parfaits are available all over Japan, those with green tea from Kyoto have completely different richness. Especially, green tea ice cream put in all parfait is certainly richer than Häagen-Dazs! Please make sure to try the texture of green tea jelly too! You will definitely want to visit Kyoto again to eat green tea parfaits.

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