Enjoy unique menu at antenna shop
Text: Keiko Nakamura / Photo: Kanya Hiromori
Chaganju Cafe is a antenna shop with a selection of safe food. Antenna shop has recently grown in Japan usually run by local governments as a retail shop opened in other regions to promote sales of their specialties.
Yamasan, emphasizing on food mail-order marketing, had opened a shop in 2010 as a promotional center where people can actually taste their products. They are offering tastings of various food from JAS certified Uji green tea to food and seasonings.
Chaganju Cafe is at the back end of the shop, serving meal and sweets using their products. I tried the seasonal Ujichazuke (green tea/soup poured on rice bowl), with a great aroma of Gyokuro no Umami-dashi soup. The soup is a fantastic blend of 6 selected ingredients of kombu seaweed, katsuobushi (dried & smoked tuna), urume (type of fish), anago (eel), etc, mixed with Uji's gyokuro green tea and hoji-tea. The green tea does not stand out over the sea products, but does a great work in erasing the fishy smell and sharpen up the taste.
'Please start by enjoying the rice with soup only, then gradually add other toppings with different texture and tastes' explains the owner, Mr. Shinya Tanaka. Toppings are boiled bamboo, wild vegetable, chicken tenderloin marinated with wasabi and soy sauce, etc... each of them creating a whole different flavour. I finished off with a freshness of spring onion and sudachi-lemon.
Zenzai-zuke is a unique sweets of ochazuke. Matcha latte is topped with yaki-mochi (grilled rice cake), sweet chestnut, azuki (sweet beans), etc., and a monaka (crisp wafers) to be dipped at the end. The matcha jelly will melt away in the warm latte so enjoy them without soaking in too much. This was a marvelous sweets that changes with every bite.
You can find the Gyokuro no Umami-dashi and Match latte sold at the shopping area.
The JAS certified organic Uji green tea is popular among other many products. It seems that they have only a limited amount of production so it is difficult to find elsewhere. Of the number of variations, powdered green tea seems to be the number 1 seller, credited for being able to take in large amount of catechin.
I say two Taiwanese ladies enjoying tasting and chatting with Chinese speaking staff. They were even taking photo together at the end. Many customers from Taiwan and Hong Kong seems to come here, with a good portion coming back again each time they visit Uji.
Mr. Tanaka is hoping to make this shop a place there customers can feel attracted to the shop itself and Uji, not just for the products.