25 October 2016
The deluxe assorted matcha set (inset) comes in a paper box at Gozen Matcha Hong Kong in the Eslite bookstore at Star House in Tsim Sha Tsui. Photos: HKEJ, Facebook
The deluxe assorted matcha set (inset) comes in a paper box at Gozen Matcha Hong Kong in the Eslite bookstore at Star House in Tsim Sha Tsui. Photos: HKEJ, Facebook

Cold comfort food for chilly weather

Unexpectedly chilly weather descended upon the city last weekend.

Residents of the urban areas were trembling at 5 degrees Celsius or below. 

Those in the New Territories were freezing.

Temperatures dropped well below zero atop mountains like Tai Mo Shan and Kowloon Peak, leaving frost on the roads and grass.

While many lambasted for their stupidity the curious citizens, dubbed “frost chasers”, who got stranded on the mountaintops and had to be saved by rescuers, the crowd was actually quite cute.

After all, that’s exactly what ordinary people do.

If not because of their immense enthusiasm, who would even bother to go out in the cold, not to mention hike up a peak where few people go even during warm, sunny weather?

I was at the five flagpoles at the Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Pier on Sunday evening.

Gusts of wind attacked me like razors.

I checked on my mobile phone: the Hong Kong Observatory said it was 3°C.

It brought back memories of my refrigerator-less childhood.

Whenever the temperature fell below 5°C in winter, I would get a box of Robertsons jelly powder from the grocery store.

I would leave a solution of the powder overnight at the flower tray outdoors and enjoy my delicious jelly the following morning.

Thinking of desserts, Gozen Matcha Hong Kong (御前上茶) at the new Eslite store at Star House immediately came to mind.

It was time to recapture my childhood pleasure with a cold dessert in freezing weather.

Though the name of the shop and the dishes it serves are Japanese, Gozen Matcha is a typical Taiwanese dessert house.

After reading the menu, I decided to indulge in a deluxe assorted matcha set, which includes matcha soft-serve ice cream, adzuki bean paste, mochi and green tea jelly served in a bamboo cylinder.

I also ordered a cup of hojicha, which is a stronger green tea.

This kind of assorted dessert set, be it matcha- or hojicha-themed, is widely available in Uji, a city on the outskirts of Kyoto that is known as the birthplace of matcha.

Every three or five steps, you will come to the doorstep of a cafe where you can order it.

The renowned 160-year-old Japanese tea house Nakamura Tokichi (中村藤吉) opened its first international flagship store in Hong Kong at The One, Tsim Sha Tsui.

I tried the set there once. The quality is superb and in line with that at the main store in Kyoto.

Right now, in front of me, was the set from Gozen Matcha. At Eslite it was served in a neat paper box instead.

Never mind, what really matters is the food.

In terms of the aroma of the tea or the milk and its smoothness, I still rate the one from the Nakamura Tokichi branch better.

However, given such terribly cold weather, it would be no fun even to walk a further 10 minutes to that shop.

Not to mention you have to queue up at least half a day for the treat.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 27.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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