Drinks

The Best Matcha in Los Angeles from Matcha Lattes, Soft-serve, Crème Brûlée, to Mochi Donuts

Main image by: Ilya Yakubovich. Updated on: Oct 29, ’22

Whether green tea is in leaf or powder form (matcha), it doesn’t matter because it is all the same, they are both from camellia sinensis, and even a coke/crackhead knows that. Also, like the white powder, Los Angeles has some of the best places to get your green powder (matcha).

If you are not the type to want to take the time to steep some hot tea so that you can leisurely sip on it as your cat lounges on your lap, I have some other options for you to enjoy matcha. They range from soft-serve, noodles, creme brûlée, matcha lattes, and several other forms in or around Los Angeles. If that sounds interesting to you, read on (try not to be distracted by your cat kneading your chest like pizza dough as you read this).

I never sought out food with the flavor of Earl Grey tea in Los Angeles, but I have searched high and low for green tea (matcha) and roasted green tea (hojicha) flavored foods/desserts. Below are some of my favorites spots in and around LA.

If you are fiending to get your fix, either a bump or an eight ball of matcha, here are the spots in and around Los Angeles (including Orange County, which by the way is not Los Angeles, no matter what the Angels of Anaheim tell you).
Photo Description: Pictured are rows of green fields of green tea being grown with blue skies and a row of trees in the background
The cartels are missing out on this delicious cash crop (pictured is the Ito En fields).

Here Are a Few Ways to Try and Use Matcha Powder

There are many ways to use matcha powder, and if you are in the Los Angeles area, I provided several businesses that you can try many of these matcha foods/products at, just in case you don’t have a green thumb in the kitchen. Also, if you are not in El Lay, a few online options.

Since I like to explore Japanese food and culture, the primary emphasis is on Japanese matcha spots, although I also love matcha in general, like my fellow Asian peoples do. So this listing will be a mix of places from Taiwanese to Korean (Gong Cha, Mochinut, to Somi Somi to name a few).

I really enjoyed myself in South Korea drinking the matcha drinks.

1. Matcha and Hojicha Soft-serve Ice Cream

Soft-serve is not your plain Jane scoop of green tea ice cream served to you for your birthday at your local sushi restaurant. Soft-serve ice cream has less milk fat and more air than harder ice cream, so if you like it soft and love to lick, this is for you. Also, if you love matcha, be sure to try hochija which is roasted green tea.

Photo Description: Picture of a waffle cone of soft serve in Japan with a black spoon, soft serve, matcha sprinkled over it, and a little chip with the producers name for branding.
Lick away, no teeth required, just gum it. Image by Leng Cheng

I had to lean on AltoHartly on why I love soft-serve, and here is why “Soft serve ice cream has a similar makeup but less milkfat, often 3% to 6%. The amount of air included is what sets soft-serve apart from hard ice cream, as the higher air content gives it a lighter, fluffy texture.”

Is that not how Gabriel Iglesias describes himself?

There is ice cream and then there is soft serve. One is pedestrian, the other is by the gods for the gods (it will have you feeling like one).

Photo Description: Picture of a cup of matcha soft serve on a table with 3 spoons in it.
When my friends visit from out of state, Tea Master is where you will end up (it is part of my tour package).

There is also an assumption that if it is located in Little Tokyo, that you are going to experience an “authentic Japanese” product, but several of the businesses in the area are no longer owned or operated by Japanese although that does not always matter.

There are a lot of owners who properly rep Japanese culture, so in those cases it does not. #respect.

If it were not for a Korean-American (Dae Young Lee), the Little Tokyo Galleria would be no more because dude revived that spot which was almost a ghost town with vacant spaces throughout (shout out to Junya at Max Karaoke) .


2. Matcha Latte/Slush with Red Beans (or Not)

This is one of those things that Asians get right from the Koreans to the Japanese although if you want to go full Asian, I suggest adding red bean (azuki) to your matcha latte because that is the magic blend of beans and leaves. Also, if that combo sounds great, I will tell you that you can find it at boba shops and I will list one specific shop.

My Latino homies surprisingly went with rice/horchata, so you will have to rely on Asians for the epic use of beans and leaves as a dessert. That combo is adzuki/azuki (red mung bean) and matcha, which are majestitestical (that is a word) and what you need in your life.

Aye guey, no mames Chino’s.
Photo Description: Pictured is of a table shot from above of matcha tea, matcha ice cream, and a matcha latte.
Matcha lattes are for sophisticated adults unlike a sugar laden frappuccino (as I type this, I was sipping on my frappuccino). Image by Tribp

I feel as though I have been chasing down the matcha slush that I had in Corea where they do it right. As for the sweet potato drinks there, well, I will stick to the fried version (the first time I had sweet potato fries was in Wisconsin before it was even popular in LA).

What’s up Ireland, you gonna let South Korea dominate your potato cred?
  • Cafe Dulce
    134 Japanese Village Plaza Mall , Los Angeles 90012 (in Little Tokyo).
  • Cha Cha Matcha
    510 N Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048 (WEHO)
    1401 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
  • Shuhari Cafe
    1522 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
  • Kung Fu Tea (slush, matcha red bean)
    740 S. Western Avenue #117/#118, Los Angeles, CA 90005

3. Matcha Crème Brûlée

This is one of those dishes that a few of my ex’s loved, and I avoided till I had the matcha version at Shin Sen Gumi (a yakitori-ya/restaurant). After I had it there, I now order it and seek it out because it’s that delicious, plus it fills that empty void in my stomach and heart.

I had refused creme brûlée numerous times because as a dude, I only ate manly desserts, like long oblong eclairs that gush out cream when you bite into it. None of the foo foo stuff, UNTIL I had matcha creme brûlée, and now I am a convert.

Be a man and man up and eat some matcha creme brûlée out of a ramekin.
Photo Description: Pictured is a ramekin with matcha creme brulee, a mint leaf sticking out from it, and 3 sliced strawberries in a clover formation.
Who knew this is what had been missing in my life because I had turned it down several times. Now, I do not.
  • Azay Little Tokyo
    226 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
    This is the dude from Maison Akira: “After being recruited to work at the esteemed L’Orangerie in Los Angeles, he and his wife opened a French restaurant in Kyoto, Japan then Pasadena, California, which closed in March 2019 after celebrating 20 years as Maison Akira.”
    Menu’s are subject to change, so please call ahead to confirm.
  • Shin Sen Gumi
    18517 S Western Ave, Gardena, CA 90248 (Orange County)
    Shin Sen Gumi Group (Gardena) menu
  • Shin Sen Gumi
    18315 Brookhurst St #1, Fountain Valley, CA 92708 (Orange County)
    Shin Sen Gumi Group (Fountain Valley)
  • Gong Cha (this is not actual creme brûlée and it is a “creme brûlée matcha milk tea with pearls)
    318 E 2nd St A, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (Little Tokyo, across the street from Kura kaiten).

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4. Matcha Cheesecake

As you can probably tell from this list so far, matcha is loved in the Asian community and it is in just about everything you can think of. Except cheesecake is its one true calling because the creamy savoriness of the cheese blends so well with the matcha (Japanese love savory over sweet).

Oh, cheesecake, I know you must be loved by those midwestern cheeseheads in that state they call Wisconsin/Meskousing. The state where Brett Favre and the Packers are loved, but I can bet you, that most have never had matcha cheesecake. So since many of our state teams will ever experience a super bowl win, go and have some matcha cheesecake.

I do love Wisconsin and Appleton (weirdos in Kaukauna) and the cheeseheads there.
Photo Description: Pictured is a slice of cheesecake in the shape of a 2x2 with sprinkled matcha on it (lots of bokeh in the shot).
There’s plain cheesecake and then there’s matcha cheesecake. Image by Hunter Nield
  • Midori Matcha
    123 Astronaut Ellison S Onizuka St #101-C, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (Weller Court/Little Tokyo). Your results will vary depending on how long it sat in their display case.
  • Seriously, aside from Cheesecake Factory, Whole Foods and some grocery store cheesecake, I typically have to resort to making my own (I need somebody to make me a Japanese-style Basque Cheesecake with matcha flavor featured on Just One Cookbook).

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5. Matcha Donuts and Mochi Donuts

I have had matcha or other breaded goods with a matcha filling, but I really can’t remember if I had the ones specifically at Cafe Dulce although I have to have it on the list. Unlike a cream puff, it has the same custard fillings, but the reason why it’s on the list is because of the denser texture of the donut itself lends well to contrasting to the filling.

It’s that chew that has me hooked. Image courtesy of Mochinut.

Not the biggest fan of the matcha donut unless it is a matcha mochi donut. The chewiness of the sweet rice/denseness adds to the overall experience going on in your mouth and for some, they may have a tingly feeling in other places.

Some may think that Mister Donut Pon de Ring is the same as what is in the US, but it is not. I actually tend to think the US version is for once a better take on the mochi donut, Murica eff’ yea.
Photo Description: Pictured is a box of pastries. The brown box, has a flipped open lid, and on the inside of the lid, there's a illustration of people,. animal characters, cruising along a street.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel as much of a fatty when I eat a matcha donut. Image by Cafe Dulce
  • Cafe Dulce
    134 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, Los Angeles, CA 90012
  • Mochi Dochi
    2130 Sawtelle Blvd # 211, Los Angeles, CA 90025 (Sawtelle Japantown).
  • Mochinut (this spot is on a crazy warpath of expansion)
    Ktown, DTLA, Westfield Century City (Santa Monica Blvd), Sherman Oaks, Eagle Rock, and El Segundo
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6. Matcha Cream Puffs

This is a Japanese chain from Japan with over 250 stores in Japan and 436 stores worldwide (33 in the U.S.), so you know they have a substantial following although I have only been a to few locations (Hollywood & Highlands which closed and the one in Little Tokyo).

I dated a patisserie from Tokyo who produced the Diamond Head puffs at Kulu Kulu in Honolulu, HI, and my mom had always made cream puffs as a kid. So, I scrutinize over a good cream puff, and they are some of the best ways to experience matcha.

A cream puff is light enough to let the subtle matcha flavors come through.
Photo Description: the product image is by Beard Papa's, the Japanese pastry chain which specializes in cream puffs. one of which is green tea.
Who’s your papa? Image courtesy of Beard Papa’s.
  • Beard Papa’s
    Multiple locations throughout Los Angeles
    touting themselves as “the world’s best cream puffs.”
    The most notable locations are Little Tokyo Galleria (downstairs next to the escalator) and Sawtelle Place where Daiso, Kura sushi, Mochi Dochi, and Nijiya are all located.
  • Croissants Du Tokyo
    1740 W. Artesia Blvd., Gardena CA 90248
    as usual, like most Japanese businesses, they do not have their own website, and they rely on Tokyo Central where they are located inside of to handle all their marketing. So this is what you get when you go to the Tokyo Central website “TOKYO Quality Croissants baked using a hybrid of traditional French and Japanese techniques. Exquisite breads from Artisan Bakers.”

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7. Bottled Green Tea

Japan has one of the highest life expectancies and is considered one of the most fit countries in the world. The U.S. doesn’t even come close regardless of how many people wear yoga pants because every restaurant and vending machine in Japan is not filled with sugar laden sugar water.

Yes, a basic mutha eff’n drink, and for you Southerner’s, it does not contain 96% sugar. What it does have is green tea and no sweeteners (did I just lose the attention of most us Americans?)

If you ever wonder why you may be slightly fluffy, it might be due to all the sugar in your drinks.
Photo Description: this image of a bottle of Ito en green tea with the text "Japan's No. 1 Green Tea Brand."
This is the opposite of the sweet tea that they guzzle down by the gallon in the South.

You can find this unsweetened green tea at Japanese markets throughout SoCal, and here are the 5 Japanese markets.


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8. Matcha Ice Cream Sandwiches to Taiyaki (Ah-Boong)

I like the typical ice cream sandwich even though I have no clue what that brown stuff is made of, but I still like them. Just like this sandwich with it’s protective honeycomb structure that is more like a packaging material, but I still like it. The green tea ice cream is really good and it’s priced right.

I will be updating this section because taiyaki has blown da fock up in Ktown.

The first spot to come to mind is Somi Somi.
Photo Description: a waffle like outer shell with green tea and chocolate inside. The wrapper is peeled back with a few bites taken out of it.
That outer shell is a like a packaging crate to bite through, but the quality of the matcha ice cream was worth it (I got this one for about a buck at Seiwa).
  • Imuraya Monaka (the producer): Matcha Ice Cream Sandwich (this product isn’t listed on their US website), and you can find this product at most Japanese markets in Los Angeles/Orange County in the freezer section (I get mine at Seiwa).
  • Somi Somi (Ktown and Sawtelle): I will actually use their words “We serve a special Korean dessert known as “Ah-Boong”, a fish-shaped waffle cone filled with your choice of filling and topped with soft serve.” All available in Milk, Matcha, Ube, Black Sesame and more.

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9. Matcha Mochi Ice Cream

The inventor of mochi ice cream is not only American, but Frances Hashimoto was also the CEO of her family’s company Mikawaya. Her product was so successful, it is currently sold in Whole Foods, Albertsons, Trader Joe’s, Ralphs, and Safeway.

I think once Frances Hashimoto passed away, the family sold the company off to venture capitalist who are all about the bottom line, so they closed the 111 year old Little Tokyo retail shop down in June ’21.

I do not blame the family for doing that because who doesn’t want a Malibu flat with a Porsche built by Betim and gang at BBi Autosport out of Huntington Beach (I’m raising my hand)? The VC’s kept the Mikawaya brand, but they are building their own called MyMo(chi), a commodity brand free of all the cultural burdens.
Photo Description: a plate with a number of mochi ice cream cut in half. One of them appears to be green tea, with a peach colored and a white one appear in the image.
Yea, having to chew your ice cream. Image courtesy of Mikawaya

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10. Cha Soba (Noodles)

Cha soba” when translated just means green tea (o’cha) and buckwheat noodles (soba). Something I thought was just a novelty, but it’s a product you can find in an Asian grocery aisle to ordering it off the menu at Aburiya Raku in Las Vegas or Los Angeles (closed in 2020).

Adios Aburiya Raku on La Cienega which I happened to hear of the closure when it happened, and I think it was primarily due to the pandemic (I forget).

I want to hear a Japanese person pronounce “la Cienega.”
Photo Description: soba green tea noodles that i got from Aburiya Raku in Las Vegas. It's topped with nori, yamakake, and bonito is a soy and bonito dashi.
Bukkake cha soba at Aburiya Raku (cold green Tea soba with poached egg).

For some of you, “bukkake” has a totally different meaning, and if that is you, you need to get that out of your head and go help your step-mom get unstuck.

Photo Description: another pic soba green tea (green colored) and the typical wheat somen noodles (white colored).
I had to include this image by Insatiablemuchies

Two brands to buy online that offer cha soba.

  • Hakubaku Organic Green Tea Soba Noodles
  • Hime Japanese Cha Soba Green Tea Noodles

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11. Matcha Candy from KitKats to Pocky

This list isn’t in any specific order, but further down my own mental list of my favorites is matcha KitKats, Meiji cookies, and Pocky. I say that because these are products (candy) where I feel the matcha flavor just isn’t savory enough.

Why have this listed specifically for Los Angeles? Because there are a number of Japanese markets that carry a wide range of candies from Japan that are matcha flavored, and you will not find this range of products in any other city in the United States.

You may think New York but forgettaboutit because the bulk of Japanese outside of Japan in the United States reside in LA.
Photo Description: Picture of KitKats in Japan. Several boxes and bags of KitKats displayed at a store with their pricing from 95 yen to 216 yen.
KitKat has it all from sakura (cherry blossom), sake (rice wine), azuki (red bean), to matcha. Image by Marco Carag

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12. Matcha and Salt (Shio) Condiment

If you have matcha and salt (shio), you have yourself a great condiment for tempura and sashimi. One that is used by Japanese because they like to taste their food versus bathing everything in soy sauce (shoyu). If you have the same appreciation for subtle flavors, try it out on a white fish that is commonly used in tempura called kisu (鱚/Japanese whiting or sillago japonica for you latin speaking folk) to squid and scallops. 

Most legit Japanese sushi spots can offer up a shio (salt) and matcha (green tea) dry mix for you to dab your tempura (like kisu) to white fish (shiromi) in.

The shot below is from Shunka in Costa Mesa.
Photo Description: a plate of sashimi from Shunka in Costa Mesa, there's a number of fish on the the plate although the white fish has a sprinkle of matcha powder sprinkled atop it.
Put down that soy sauce bottle foo.
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13. Barrel-Aged Hojicha (Roasted Green Tea)

How could I not include this one (even if it is SOLD OUT at the time of this posting)!? ITOEN has done a limited edition hojicha infused with the rich flavors & aromas found in Kings County peated bourbon whiskey barrels (earthy, slightly toasted toffee, roasted caramel, whiskey).

Barrel-aged bro.

Whisky, sake, and beer are getting the barrel treatment, so why not tea.
Photo Description: a teapot, a glass with a lemon in it meant to most likely depict hojicha (roasted green tea).
How does a barrel-aged hot toddy out of Brooklyn, NY sound? Image courtesy of Itoen.

I Love Matcha Foods, Drinks, to Candy, So You Know This List Was Legit

There are a ton more dishes that incorporate matcha into it from waffles, roll cakes, to croissants, but I have only included the ones that are easily accessible or stand out like a strung out crack/cokehead.

Leaf icons created by Freepik – Flaticon

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