Review: Tafu, New York

02Oct07

Similar but not exactly what I drank at Tafu’s.

On lunch break, I went to TAFU/NY a new maccha cafe on East 51st between Lexington and 3rd. It just opened September 21st. The family has been in the tea making/selling/buying business for over 150 years supposedly, in Japan and also China. They sell premium teas and desserts out of a tiny but cute store in Midtown East.

I had gone in the day before, but no customers were there except me and my friend, and faced with the daunting array of choices and the over-eager staff we panicked and left. On the way out we took menus though, and thought about it. Today we went back determined and ready to order, and there were actually customers that outnumbered the staff.

We ordered the “Kuromistu Maccha Latte”. Despite the time it took to make, the cost ($6.50), and the confusion surrounding where to pay and where to get your drink, it was good. It was a large, tall, iced, dark green drink filled with antioxidants (good for your body), and topped whipped cream (bad for your body) and yummy black sugar syrup, a key ingredient in Japanese sweets.

Maccha (powdered green tea) is used in the rarefied tea ceremony of course, but in the post-war period, Japanese began using maccha in icecreams and other desserts as a flavoring. More recently, only in the last 10 years or less maybe, Japanese have begun using the condensed, high-quality maccha in iced drinks like the “Maccha Latte” we got. Japanese grocery stores also have maccha latte powder packs now, ready to make. I recommend trying sometime.

The cafe is small and has no seating area, so we drank as we walked.  People in the elevator were curioiusly staring at what I was drinking, but didn’t ask what it was.  I imagine guests of the DoubleTree Hotel, to which it is attached, will use it and hopefully others will find it and try it too. It has some kinks to work out because it’s new, but I would go back, although not every day like my old stand-by: the ING Cafe on 49th, between Park and Madison.

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