Ottawa’s newly-opened Uji Cafe on Rideau Street is the city’s first Japanese cafe. Named after Uji city in Kyoto which is famous for producing Japan’s premium matcha, Uji Cafe offers a variety of Japanese desserts, pastries, and beverages.
What I loved about this cafe is all the matcha powder is directed imported from Uji, meaning you get to enjoy high-quality matcha, and all the desserts are made in-house daily so they are always fresh.
If you aren’t familiar with matcha, it is a flavour-packed tea made from powdering dried green tea leaves and has substantially more antioxidants and other health benefits compared to regular green tea. In matcha, bright green is a good indicator of high-quality matcha, which has a sweet and slightly bitter flavor, compared to lower quality matcha which tastes more bitter.
As someone who used to live in Japan, I’ve missed the less sweet desserts popular in Japan, and I was delighted to find Japanese cheesecake on the menu. In comparison to the cheesecake that you are familiar with, the Japanese version is lighter because it has meringue folded into the batter, making it a blend of a creamy cheesecake and airy souffle. Uji Cafe offers both the original Japanese cheesecake and a matcha cheesecake which you can buy as a slice or the entire cake if you are looking to split with friends.
After trying everything on the menu, the Mille crepe is a cake made by layering ultra-thin crepes between whipped matcha topping. Out of all the desserts, this was the top favorite amongst everyone I went with, followed by the matcha cheesecake.
Uji Café also offers cake rolls filled with light whipped cream in three flavors; a chocolate roll with chocolate chips and walnuts, a honey roll, and a matcha roll with azuki /red beans.
Finally, for those looking to be a bit more adventurous, the cheese tart is packed with cheese flavor compared to cheesecake and will give you a taste of the famous dessert from Hokkaido. There is also a matcha and white chocolate tart and a chocolate tart, and the chocolate tart was my third favorite out of everything I tried, it was just so decadent and the perfect contrast to the more airy dessert.
The interior of the cafe is delightfully cozy with plenty of seating, but I recommend seating at one of the tables towards the back where you can get a prime view of the chefs cooking the desserts in the open concept kitchen. The comfortable cafe with friendly staff has a peaceful atmosphere, and it is easy to spend hours chatting with friends over a cup of matcha latté and sweets.
Shortly, Uji Cafe will be celebrating its grand opening and will later be launching an even larger menu. I’ve fallen in love with this sweet Japanese cafe, that is exactly what Ottawa has needed for those looking to try the highest quality matcha or Japanese desserts.