Restaurant Review: Macha Tea House

“Ooh, have you been to Macha?! They give you free cookies if it’s your first visit!” This is what I inevitably hear whenever Macha Tea House comes up in conversation. Needless to say, the thought of free cookies doesn’t thrill me as much as it does my non-vegan friends – odds are slim to none that the cookies are vegan, so I knew that the most pleasure I’d get out of them would be the selfless thrill of giving mine to S and watching him devour two cookies while I sipped my tea. Ho hum. But after hearing more than one friend rave about how cute and quaint and cozy Macha is, S and I decided to check it out for ourselves. We like tea, and we like trying new places – even ones without the allure of free cookies.

Macha is located on Monroe St., a hip neighborhood not quite downtown that still feels bustling and busy. You might recall that I cited it as the location of Pizza Brutta, where I ate my birthday pizza. Macha is set back from the street a bit, in what looks to be a renovated house. This enhances its cozy feel and makes it possible to have a few small tea rooms upstairs, set apart from the more traditional restaurant seating below. The tea rooms are raised slightly, so you have to step up to enter them. You’re encouraged to take off your shoes before entering, which S and I did after ordering at the front desk, receiving our pot of steeping Yunnan tea, and proceeding upstairs.

Each tea room has a low table and a few cushions on the floor, along with bamboo floor mats and Japanese-inspired wall decor. It’s a pleasant, calming atmosphere. S and I chatted and watched the sand in the timer drain as we waited for our tea to steep.

I'm a little teapot, short and square...

When it was done, we poured our tea and sipped it, enjoying the warm sunlight while waiting for our food. The Yunnan tea was delicious – I’m so used to drinking Irish and English black teas that I sometimes forget that there are other varieties out there! Unlike the one-note, almost bitter flavor of an Irish or English black tea, the Yunnan was nuanced and deeply satisfying. And when our food arrived, we eagerly dug in. S ordered the miso soup with tofu, while I enjoyed the donburi bowl with tofu.

Donburi for lunch!

My rice bowl featured jasmine rice, scallion, black sesame, shiitake mushrooms, bok choy, and daikon. I ordered it with a sweet, soy-glazed tofu, which came in large chunks. The whole dish came with a mixture of soy sauce and sesame oil on the side, but I found the sauce almost unnecessary – my bowl was well-seasoned as is. For such a seemingly light and simple meal, I found it surprisingly (and happily) filling. And the price was right – just $6.50 for a tasty lunch. Next time, I’ll forego the tofu and save a dollar.

And there will definitely be a next time – S and I both enjoyed our visit, especially getting to sit in a more private room. Macha also offers tea services, where you can reserve space for a party and receive lots of tea, baked goods, and delicate sandwiches and nibbles. Delightful!

Oh, and those free cookies? Nobody mentioned them! Where did that rumor start?!

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