A recipe for a Matcha Latte (抹茶ラテ) inspired by our time in Shinjuku, Tokyo! Matcha is blended with hot water, then combined with milk for a warming drink.
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We recently spent nearly two weeks in Tokyo! We had such a fantastic time seeing the city, trying a variety of restaurants, and spending time with friends.
I will be sharing our experiences in a series of blog posts. Today, I am covering our time in Shinjuku.
Check out my previous Tokyo posts:
- Pork Gyoza and Tokyo (Yoyogi, Shimokitazawa, Meiji Jingu, Gotokuji Temple)
- Japanese Crepes and Shibuya, Tokyo
- Matcha Baked Donuts and Odaiba, Tokyo
- Omurice (Japanese Omelette Rice) and Tokyo (Ueno and Asakusa)
- Pokemon Bento and Tokyo (Tokyo Character Street, Pokemon Cafe, Nissan Crossing, Red Tokyo Tower)
Our hotel (Hotel Century Southern Tower) was in Yoyogi on the border of Shinjuku and Shibuya, so we spent a large portion of our time walking through Shinjuku and using Shinjuku Station as our base.
Shinjuku (新宿区) is a district in western Tokyo. It is home to the world’s busiest train station (Shinjuku Station, 新宿駅) along with lots of shopping, restaurants, and nightlife. We got turned around in Shinjuku Station more than once during those first couple of days adjusting to the city. The station has around 3.5 million passengers per day.
Other notable sights include Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Golden Gai, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.
A popular landmark in Shinjuku since 2015 is the large Godzilla head among the tall buildings. We were able to see it towering over the street in front of Hotel Gracery.
For a closer look, you can find the statue resting in Hotel Gracery Shinjuku’s Godzilla Terrace on the 8th floor if you are a guest of the hotel or cafe.
Mister Donut (ミスタードーナツ) has locations throughout Japan with a fun assortment of seasonal donuts and savory treats. The Shinjuku location at 1 Chome-2-1 Kabukicho is just a couple of blocks east from the Godzilla Statue.
We ordered the White Bean Paste (Shiroan) Pon de Ring (白いポン・デ・白あん), Honey Dip (ハニーディップ), Hot Savory Pie BBQ Frankfurt (ホット・セイボリーパイ BBQフランクフルト), Plain Pon de Ring (ポン・デ・リング), White Chocolate Ring (ホワイトチョコリング), and Pon de Sugar (ポン・デ・シュガー).
The White Bean Paste Pon de Ring was a specialty item during our visit and my personal favorite.
The company was founded in Shinjuku in 1927 and now has locations around the world. This main store has multiple levels packed with Japanese and English novels, manga, cookbooks, language books, toys, stationery, magazines, souvenirs, and more.
The Disney Flagship Tokyo store is next door to Kinokuniya and was another favorite with the kids.
The largest Disney store in Japan, it has three levels of Disney-themed clothing, jewelry, kitchen items, toys, and also sells Tokyo Disney Resort tickets via reservation.
Claire especially loved the Gachapon (capsule toy) stand towards the back of the store on the ground level.
Marc of No Recipes recommended the Depachika (basement food hall) in Isetan Shinjuku and I could have spent hours there.
Isetan (伊勢丹) Shinjuku started as a kimono fabric shop in 1886 and has been a large department store since 1933 with restaurants, clothing, household goods, cosmetics, shoes, travel bags, jewelry, and a rooftop garden.
The Depachika on B1 is a beautiful and busy maze of sweets, bread, tea, groceries, miso, wine, other drinks, and meals. The word Depachika (デパ地下) is a combination of Depāto (department store) and Chika (basement).
I picked up Katsudon, a few chicken skewers, and particularly loved the Vanilla and Strawberry Melon Pan from Maison Landemaine (メゾン ランドゥメンヌ 新宿伊勢丹).
Little Bakery at 3-Chome
One morning, I grabbed up a few baked goods at Little Bakery at 3-chome (3丁目のちいさなパン屋さん). This shop may be small, but it is packed with an incredible collection of bread, pastries, sandwiches, and more.
It was hard to narrow down, but I settled on the Turtle Melon Bun (ちいカメ), Bear Honey Curry Bun (くまさんのはちみつカレー), Anpanman (ちいアンパンマン), Cat Chocolate Cream Bun (ちいネコ), Maple Matcha and Chocolate Little Rounds くるくる(メープル/抹茶/チョコ), Curry Bread (my favorite! カレーパン), Vienna Sausage Doughnut (フランクドーナツ), and Tomato and Bacon Panini (トマトとベーコンのパニーニ).
All Seasons Coffee
All Seasons Coffee (オールシーズンズコーヒー) at 2 Chome−7−7 1F is home to quite the indulgent Purin (Japanese Custard Pudding) along with coffee, other drinks, and season treats.
I was immediately drawn to the Purin Affogato with Caramel Sauce. The Cold Brew was also a wonderful start to the day and much needed caffeine kick to counteract the jet lag.
I had a wonderful solo lunch one day at Saryo Suisen. Kyoto Saryo Suisen’s Shinjuku Branch (京都茶寮翠泉新宿店) is located on 1F in the Shinjuku Sumitomo Building. They have matcha based sweets, savory food, and specialty drinks.
I ordered the Strong Hot Matcha Latte with 3D Art (so cute! お濃い抹茶ラテ3Dアート) and Assorted Cold Soba Noodles with Dipping Broth (Matcha and Buckwheat, そば合い盛り).
Takashimaya Times Square and Tokyu Hands
I was so excited to see Takashimaya Times Square and Tokyu Hands across from our hotel.
Next to the south exit of Shinjuku Station, Takashimaya Times Square is a department store with 14 levels (plus a basement) of specialty brands, clothing, home goods, and restaurants.
We also spent quite a bit of time exploring the attached Tokyu Hands with stationery, travel items, kitchenware (lots of bento supplies!), hardware, toys, games, and more.
Towards the end of our trip, we had a girls’ lunch at Shinjuku Nakamuraya Olive House (新宿中村屋オリーブハウス) on the 13th floor of Takashimaya Times Square.
The menu features Western style cuisine with curry, pasta, hamburger steak, rice omelettes, gratin, and kids meals. There may be a wait list during peak hours.
We ordered the Omelet with fried rice and beef curry (ビーフカレーのオムライス), Child set meals (お子様セット)- spaghetti and omurice, and Omelet with fried rice and demi glacé sauce (デミグラスソースのオムライス).
Takashimaya Times Square also has a wonderful Depachika on B1. Since it was across the street from our hotel, we stopped by a handful of times to grab a light snack after a day of sightseeing. I picked up a few of the beautiful fruit jelly to take home as gifts.
Just one stop north on the Yamanote Line from Shinjuku Station is Shin-Ōkubo (新大久保). Also known as Tokyo’s Koreatown, this neighborhood is home to a variety of Korean restaurants and shops.
The kids heard about 2D Cafe online before our trip and we made it a priority.
As the name suggests, this themed cafe looks just like a drawing with the black/white furniture and features Korean-style shave ice, fresh fruits, cake, coffee, and tea. It was definitely popular. We arrived right at opening on a Sunday and the cafe filled up quickly.
I loved how the styling of the 2D Cake (2Dケーキ) matched the decor.
We also got the Strawberry Kakigori/Shaved Ice (イチゴかき氷), Mango Milk Bubble Tea (マンゴーミルクタピ), Creamy Dalgona Latte (ダルゴナ-クリーミー), and Korean Cream Cheese Garlic Bread (マヌルパン).
We went back to Shin-Ōkubo one evening to go to Uobei (魚べい) for dinner.
This chain Kaitenzushi restaurant has locations throughout Japan. Their Shin-Ōkubo location is directly across the street from the station exit on the 3rd floor (elevator or stair access). It also has booth seating! Ordering is easy through the tablet at the booth or counter with an English option.
We enjoyed the Yuzu Pickled Tuna (ゆずのせ漬け風まぐろ), Cheese Hamburger (チーズハンバーグ), Salmon and Hokkaido Cheese (サーモン北海道チーズ), Shrimp Tempura Roll (えび天巻), Soy Sauce Ramen (醤油ラーメン), Fried Chicken Sticks (スティックチキン), Pumpkin Tempura (かぼちゃ天ぷら), Egg (たまご), Broiled Albacore Tuna with Pepper Mayo (びん長ぺッパーマヨ炙り), Juicy Fried Chicken Thighs (ジューシー鶏もも唐揚げ), Soft Serve Ice Cream (ソフトクリーム), Peach Parfait (ももパフェ), and Warabi Mochi (やわらかわらび餅).
To pair with this Shinjuku post, I am sharing a recipe for a Matcha Latte (抹茶ラテ) inspired by the drink at Saryo Suisen. This creamy and comforting latte comes together with a couple of minutes and 3-4 ingredients.
Whisk sifted matcha (and optionally sugar) in hot water until completely blended and smooth with no lumps.
Pour the mixture into a heat-safe mug or cup, then slowly pour in the steamed milk to fill the cup and add a thin layer of foam at the top. Saryo Suisen had a little 3D bunny on the top of their latte, so I added a 2D bear and cat on mine with the last of the foam.
If desired, you can dust with an thin layer of matcha immediately before serving for an extra burst of flavor.
I went with a basic matcha latte, but the ingredients and amounts are easily adaptable based on personal preference. For a fall twist, you can even make a Spiced Maple Matcha.
Iced Matcha Latte
During warmer months, I usually enjoy an iced version of the Matcha Latte with just a couple of adjustments.
While I don’t always add sugar to my hot matcha latte, I often use a bit of sweetened condensed milk for the Iced Matcha Latte after loving it so much in The Little Epicurean’s Iced Ube Latte. You can also sweeten the drink with maple syrup, honey, or agave.
For a more defined matcha top layer, whisk the 1 1/2 teaspoons of the sifted matcha in a small bowl with 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) hot water. Set aside while you prepare the milk layer.
In a glass, whisk 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) sweetened condensed milk into 3/4 cup (177 milliliters) dairy or non-dairy milk until well-combined.
Fill the glass with ice, leaving enough room on top for the matcha layer.
Gently pour the dissolved matcha over the back of a spoon held just above the milk to form a distinct layer on top. Stir to combine immediately before drinking.
Matcha is a powder created by grinding whole green tea leaves. There are various grades. The higher quality grades are made from the fine, new leaves from the very top of the Camellia sinensis tea plant. The lower culinary grades are fine for cooking and baking. For this Matcha Latte, I generally go with a ceremonial grade.
Be careful when storing matcha. It can become stale and brownish when exposed to oxygen. I have been able to find matcha at markets with Japanese ingredients and more recently in the tea section of larger supermarkets. It is also available on Amazon: Ceremonial Grade Matcha and Maeda-En Culinary Matcha.
A Few Tips
For best results, use a Chasen (茶筅, bamboo whisk) and Chawan (茶碗, tea bowl) for blending the matcha into the hot water. I currently have only a round Chawan, but one with a small spout would be very helpful to transfer to the serving glass.
Sift the matcha through a fine mesh sieve before blending with the hot water. This will help create a more smooth drink.
If using granulated sugar, blend it into the hot water with the sifted matcha to dissolve.
I used whole milk in these photos, but you can also make the Matcha Latte vegan with oat milk or another dairy free option.
Serve the Matcha Latte (hot or iced) immediately after assembling.
Steaming the Milk
I have an espresso machine to froth the milk. It can also be prepared with a handheld milk frother.
Steam the milk by heating it (on the stove or in the microwave). While still hot, transfer to a frothing pitcher, and use a handheld milk frother to create the right consistency.
If using a non-dairy milk, it won’t steam as well without a professional espresso machine.
Without a handheld frother, cold milk (nonfat to 2% is best for stable foam, but won’t be as rich) can be shaken in a tightly sealed jar (no more than a third filled), then microwaved to set the foam or heated and frothed in a French press (pump for about 10 seconds, be careful not to overfill) or whisked vigorously while hot.
Matcha Latte Recipe
Adapted from Jessica in the Kitchen
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (2 grams) matcha green tea powder, sifted
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar optional
- 3 tablespoons (44 milliliters) hot water
- 3/4 cup (177 milliliters) milk dairy or non-dairy, steamed
- In a small bowl, whisk the sifted matcha and optionally the sugar if using in the hot water until completely dissolved and smooth with no clumps remaining.
- Pour the dissolved matcha mixture into desired heat-safe glass or mug.
- While holding the glass slightly to the side at a 45˚ angle, slowly pour the steamed milk in the center to fill the mug and add a thin layer of the foam to the top.
- If desired, dust the top with a little more matcha.
- Serve immediately.