Life’s little pleasures come in the form of a powder!
Famous last words “Nah, don’t worry, of course it’s going to be open! It’s Belles Hot Chicken!” I uttered these words to my wife as we left our home when she asked if we ought to double check if our desired lunch location would be open on a Sunday arvo in between Christmas and New Year’s. And no great surprise?…… It was closed, and not to re-open until 2nd Jan. Darn-it! And our second option (Marrickville Pork Roll) and even 8bit were both closed as well. The only stores which were still open along Steam Mill Lane were Matcha-Ya and Bang Bang. It was hot and we were hungry, and the presented options were a whisky bar and a Matcha dessert café? Not promising I thought.
“Hey! They have a lunch menu! And Matcha lattes are 50% off when ordered with a meal!” Those words lifted me from near despondence. So we entered Matcha-Ya not knowing what to expect, but feeling excited; the first time I’ve felt this fluttery feeling in a long while when associated with trying a new restaurant (in recent times, we research and research everything in advance, so that there aren’t any surprises). But now we were truly entering Matcha-Ya ‘blind’.
Your order is made as soon as you enter the somewhat cramped store at the counter, and payment is made at point of sale. “What was that? Did she say $30.80? Or $35.80?” I asked my wife as we paid for our food. After we got our change back and made our way to a free table, my wife was like “No, it’s $25.80.” And this was the first of the surprises! “What! 2 meals and 2 drinks for $25.80?” This was the first time in a while that something had cost significantly less than what I had expected.
The store is quite narrow, if you spend too much time standing in the corridor before you take your seat, you’re literally stopping foot traffic through the store. One wall is lined with benches, a small funky café table separating your dining companion who has a small round backless stool (table was funky due to the fact that the central table leg was a thick inverted cone, so you end up straddling the table leg to avoid sitting in the corridor). The store had a very classy upmarket vibe to it, with pale wood panelling and white and green tiles, and the twinkly piano music added to the up-class vibe they were aiming for (funny how if they played an Asian pop playlist, the vibe would’ve felt a little bit cheaper).
When our meals were ready, the buzzer we were provided with at point-of-sale vibrated across the table; your notice to retrieve your food from the counter.
And the first thing which struck me was the fragrance of the food, I honestly couldn’t stop sniffing the food. When we made our orders we chose the Chicken Katsu Matcha Curry and the Stewed Beef with Matcha Rice, agreeing that we’ll decide who will have what when the food arrived. The Curry by far had the more appealing fragrance, and like a gentleman I offered this dish to my wife to have. Haaha. And the twist to the dishes, were that savoury dishes also contained Matcha as an ingredient. For drinks, we both ordered an iced latte (Matcha latte and Houji-cha latte (due to the warmth of the day). And again, I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the lattes (they came in milkshake sized glasses) and topped off by a swirl of cream.
I’m a bit impartial about Matcha, I don’t drink much teas and on the whole I don’t drink many flavoured beverages, but I have to admit I really enjoyed my Matcha Latte. The latte was both sweet and bitter, both creamy and refreshing, and it went perfectly with the savoury food. In terms of the food, the only telltale sign that my dish had Matcha within it was the fact that the fluffy rice was tinged green (I couldn’t really taste it but I’m sure it made for quite a sight). The beef was flavoursome, a generous serving, and it was quite filling.
My wife’s Katsu Curry was tasty, the Matcha flavour was infused into the gravy of the curry; although the Chicken Katsu reminded me of frozen fish fingers i.e. probs a pre-battered product which they only needed to deep-fry and serve. And my wife’s latte had a completely different taste to it, considering we both essentially had a green tea latte (methinks further research is required to better understand/appreciate the intricacies of this complex powder).
When checking out what other patrons were having around us, it was clear that the majority were here for the desserts/drinks. Matcha-Ya is known as a drinks and dessert venue first and foremost, rather than a place for lunch or dinner. So we saw soft serves, hot fries, and many drinks being consumed. And overall, it was a nice venue, where you can tell that people were happy to just come and hang with friends over drinks and sweetie things (tinged with matcha bitterness of course).
Our end verdict, 4.5 stars from 5 (2.5 from 3 stars for food; 0.5 from 0.5 for service; 0.5 from 0.5 for atmosphere; and 1 from 1 for value for money).
We’d definitely will recommend Matcha-Ya to friends, and we’ll definitely be back to try their other Matcha beverages, Matcha fondues, Matcha parfaits, and Matcha soft serves. It’s timely that I’m consuming processed sugars again. Haaha.
If you’re interested to read-up on the other stores which have opened up in Darling Square, check out Darling Square’s web-site:
Matcha-Ya- Sunday 30 December (4.5 Stars)
10 Steam Mill Lane, Haymarket NSW
Sun-Thurs 12noon – 10pm
Fri-Sat 12noon – 10.30pm