\Nakamura Tokichi 中村藤吉
Add: 10, Ichiban Uji , Uji-shi, Kyoto / 京都府宇治市宇治壱番十番地
Hours: [tea shop] 10am-6pm [cafe] 11am-6pm
Price: [set meal] ¥980-1,100 [desserts] ¥720-800
Uji, a tranquil and charming town 30 minutes outside of Kyoto, is known for having the best green tea in all of Japan. Among the many tea roasters and sellers, 150-year-old Nakamura Tokichi is especially well-known not just for serving excellent tea, but also a range of tea-flavored desserts that will delight even those who are not in the habit of tea drinking.
For lunch, we tried Tokichi Udon Set 藤吉うどんセット( ¥980) and Tea Soba Set 茶蕎麦セット(¥1,180), each including a bowl noodles, seaweed-seasoned rice, pickles, and a cup of tea jelly dessert. While the noodles are green in color, the tea flavor was almost indiscernible. The miniature dessert, on the other hand, was a delightful cup of tea jelly, sweet red bean paste, and glutinous rice ball. I was absolutely convinced that I had to try more of their desserts before I leave Uji.
Being too full from the meal, we decided to stroll around Uji before heading to back to Nakamura for more desserts. After visiting Byodoin Temple, Ujigami Shrine, and Uji River, we happened to pass by the Byodoin store of Nakamura. Dessert time :)
First we tried 生茶ゼリイTea Jelly ( ¥1,180): 3 scoops of gloriously rich tea-flavored ice-cream, pieces of quivering tea jelly, chewy glutinous rice balls, and a bed of rice crispies at the bottom offering a nice texture contrast. Though the dessert usually only comes in one flavor of ice-cream – either matcha tea (green color) or roasted green tea (brown color) – the waitress gave me both flavors upon request.
We also tried the シフォンケーキ chiffon cakes, which were light and fluffy in the most heavenly way. Better yet, they came with a cup of soft-served ice-cream also topping a bed of rice crispies. Perfect!
When in Kyoto, do yourself a favor and visit Nakamura Tokichi. You will not be disappointed.