Taipei dessert – 108 Matcha Saro, Q square and Takashimaya department store (TianMu) 抹茶茶廊


This post is a bit of a special one: I originally posted about the Q square branch of 108 Matcha Saro, as you may have previously read. However, I was then lucky to have been invited up to the Takashimaya branch of 108 Matcha Saro in TianMu. 

The Matcha Saro based in Q square just behind Taipei Main Station, only opened in April 2015. Whereas the original branch in TianMu 天母 opened in September of 2014 – so, even though it is just over 1 year old, it is still a fairly young shop in Taipei.

108 Matcha Saro is originally from Asahikawa in Hokkaido 北海道, Japan 日本. The desserts are based on selective Kyoto 京都 Matcha and combined with other ingredients such as Hokkaido milk or custard to make these desserts somewhat more unique than others of its breed. The 抹茶 itself is untouched and imported directly from 京都 to be specially used at 108 Matcha Saro.

 Matcha, in Japan, is a way of life and an institution. It is a finely ground green tea, usually brewed with water to elicit a fairly bitter tea. However, it has recently become a lot more popular to add into desserts such as cake or ice cream or in drink form worked into a latte to give it a really creamy and luxurious texture. Matcha, itself, has huge health benefits: full of antioxidants, rich in fibre and vitamins, raises metabolism and is a good source of vitamin C and magnesium. So, really, the question to be asking yourself is this: Why haven’t I tried it yet?

Takashimaya Branch – TianMu

I was fortunate to have been invited to TianMu 天母 to come and check out their desserts. My excitement was uncontainable because of my love for anything and everything based on tea, especially 抹茶. The shop is based on B1 of the department store, located near the North entrance of the store. 

Whilst we were there, there was a steady flow of customers buying everything ranging from 抹茶 drinks, 抹茶 cakes and 抹茶 ice cream. 

This is 108 Matcha Saro’s latest dessert to be added to the menu: 抹茶費南雪 mǒ chá fèi nán xuě Matcha Financier. This is a delicious little cake dessert, with an almost caramelized sugary matcha exterior and a firm, yet silky smooth cake inside. The matcha flavour is strong, yet the use of the almond powder inside the cake mixture balances it out and gives it an earthy sweetness. 

The 抹茶費南雪 only came into stores on September 9th, so make time to go and try it – you will not be disappointed! 

We also tried the steamed 抹茶 souffle. Souffle is traditionally a french dessert combining egg yolks (for richness) and whisked egg whites (for a light, airy texture) in a special way and mixed with other ingredients to create a more airy, light, fluffy dessert. 

There are only 10 of these souffles made in a single day, so you have to be quick!  

Even though it is classed as a souffle, I feel like it sits somewhere in the gray area between a souffle and a cake. However, this isn’t at all in a bad way: sometimes a souffle can be like biting into air, and sometimes a cake can be like biting into a brick. The area in between this sits a nicely soft and fluffy cake souffle. The taste of 抹茶 inside the cake is wonderfully strong meaning that the cake isn’t too sweet. Oftentimes you can be hit with a mouthful of sugar in such cakes, but not here. 

We were also very lucky to watch this being made fresh at the store. This special dessert 抹茶蕨餅 mǒ chá jué bǐng Matcha and fern cake (not really a cake, though) is really intriguing. I am no stranger to Mochi (麻糬), which is a traditional Japanese dessert. And, whilst this has a lot of similarities to Mochi, it most certainly is not. Here are a few videos about the processes going in to making the 抹茶蕨餅:

The first step is a large amount of 抹茶 being placed into the bowl, then fern and water were added in, to all be mixed using this machine. The machine starts off mixing very slowly and works on incorporating all of the mixture evenly. The mixture is also gradually heated during this process.

The speed of the machine increases and as the mixture becomes warmer and mixes more thoroughly, it becomes a lot stickier and thicker in consistency. You can see as it moves around the bowl it begins to stick to the sides. 

Here, the mixture has been left to cool for a little while after a total of 15 minutes continuously being heated and stirred. It is then ladled into a tray to be put into the refrigerator for 2 hours. The mixture doesn’t look particularly pleasant, however, I cannot help but want to dive my finger in to taste it…

As the mixture comes out of the refrigerator, it is much more firm and resembles a thick jelly. It is first cut into a manageable size and then cut down into bite size cubes as shown above. There are two flavour toppings: 抹茶 and a roasted soy bean. For me, the better of the two flavours was the soy bean one, simply because the 蕨餅 already has the 抹茶 flavour, so the soy bean gives it a different dimension. The soy bean is burnt to elicit a slightly smoky flavour, and when dusted on top of the 蕨餅 in its powder form I feel that it compliments the 抹茶 and 蕨 flavours very well. 

108 Matcha Saro like to bring out seasonal dishes and this is their Autumn special. The only difference between the two being: the Matcha ice cream and HoJiCha ice cream. 
The purple addition to the side is purple sweet potato: the purple sweet potato is slightly sweet, yet still starchy enough to give it a different dimension on texture and flavour.
The yellowy cream addition on the right side of the dish is a chestnut puree/paste. It threw me what I believe is termed a ‘curveball’. The sweet potato adds the starchy earthiness, whereas, the sweet chestnut really gives it a whole different twist. The chestnut paste allows the dish a sweetness and nutty richness. 
At the front of the Matcha ice cream dish is a cube of the 抹茶蕨餅 with burnt soy bean powder, and at the front of the HoJiCha ice cream dish is a cube of the 抹茶蕨餅 with 抹茶 powder. 
Looking at the bottom of the cup, we have a Black sugar jelly, then a 抹茶 jelly and then topped with ice cream. Using only the highest quality Hokkaido milk in their ice cream, I can safely say that it is wonderfully rich and deliciously milky. The 抹茶冰淇淋 (bīng qí lín ice cream) is probably the best 抹茶冰淇淋 I have tried before: there is a rich milky taste, a bitter taste of 抹茶 and sweet enough to be a dessert. 
However, for me, the big winner of the two dishes is the HoJiCha. HoJiCha is a Japanese tea originating in Kyoto, Japan. Most Japanese teas are steamed, the difference with HoJiCha is that it is roasted. The roasting of the tea gives it a smokey, woody flavour when drinking as a tea. However, mixed with milk and put into ice cream, it develops a lighter flavour and takes on the richness of the milk with a light smokey flavour. 
The addition of the maple leaf is really more of an aesthetic idea at first, but when you taste it, it gives a sour taste and cuts through the earthy and rich aspects of the dish.

Best dish: The souffle – it was really taking all the great things about a cake and combining it with all the great things of a souffle. Mixed up with 抹茶 and you really are creating something extra special. It is a strong favourite.

Dish I wouldn’t order again: I would order all again, many times (and, I will)


B1, No.55, Section 2, ZhongCheng Road, ShiLin District, Taipei City

Q Square

Inside Q square, the store is located on B3. The department store gets very busy over the weekend, but it is a lot more quiet during the week. 

There is a vast selection on offer at 108 Matcha Saro, including: ice cream sundaes, matcha latte, cold brewed matcha drink, matcha ice cream cones, matcha moji and also matcha cheese cake.

However, we were here for these, 大判燒 dà pàn shāo. 大判燒 is a Japanese dessert called Imagawayaki. It is cooked on this iron, similar to that of a waffle iron. 
What we ordered:

(fortunately, we got there at a time that was the shops birthday, so we could order 5 大判燒 and get 1 for free)

1. 抹茶大判燒 mǒ chá dà pàn shāo Matcha with red bean filling
2. 原味抹茶卡士達 yuán wèi mǒ chá kǎ shì dá Original flavour with matcha custard filling  
3. 原味紅豆抹茶卡士達 yuán wèi hóng dòu kǎ shì dá Original flavour with red bean and matcha custard filling
4. 抹茶拿鐵 mǒ chá ná tiě Matcha latte 

1. 抹茶大判燒 mǒ chá dà pàn shāo Matcha with red bean filling

抹茶 is used within the batter mix of this one, giving it a fairly unnerving (yet intriguing) colour. 抹茶 being a little bitter, it works well with a sweeter filling. The red bean filling in here is only a little sweet and actually feels quite savoury, rather than the dessert that it is intended to be. However, maybe that is me just having a sweet tooth and wanting this to be sweeter, it could be a personal preference. 

2. 原味抹茶卡士達 yuán wèi mǒ chá kǎ shì dá Original flavour with matcha custard filling

Sweet meets bitter, it should be good, right? It was, very good. The original flavour of the batter is a little sweet with a fairly strong egg taste. The matcha in the centre of this is made into a custard, and has a smooth and silky texture. The matcha custard is, contrary to the matcha bitterness, quite sweet and gooey in texture. It is really good, and definitely for the sweet-toothed among us.

3. 原味紅豆抹茶卡士達 yuán wèi hóng dòu kǎ shì dá Original flavour with red bean and matcha custard filling

This flavour combined the best of sweet and the best of bitter, I feel. The matcha custard being sweet and a little bitter, the red bean being borderline sweet and savoury and the original flavour being delicious and eggy. This is the one, definitely. It ticks all the boxes of a not too sweet dessert.

4. 抹茶拿鐵 mǒ chá ná tiě Matcha latte 

I love matcha, it is probably my favourite thing I’ve tasted of Japanese cuisine in Taiwan, so far. This matcha latte was bitter, sweet, frothy, milky and delicious. Matcha latte at convenience stores around Taiwan are very popular, however, I encourage you to try the matcha latte elsewhere, as the quality of the matcha used is (personal opinion, here) lesser than that of matcha specialist places such as this or this matcha dessert shop near Taipower MRT station. 

Best dish: 3. 原味紅豆抹茶卡士達 yuán wèi hóng dòu kǎ shì dá Original flavour with red bean and matcha custard filling – by far the best meeting of bitter with sweet.
Dish I wouldn’t order again: 
1. 抹茶大判燒 mǒ chá dà pàn shāo Matcha with red bean filling – If I am here looking for a snack, then I would order this. However, if I am in the mood for a dessert, then I wouldn’t order this again.

Q square, 台北市大同區承德路一段

Q square, ChengDe road, Section 1, DaTong District, Taipei City

108 Matcha Saro on Facebook

Happy Eating! 

Author: eatingintaipei

Recently moved out to Taiwan and don't know how to order at restaurants? I got you sorted. Can read some characters but still don't quite know what you're ordering? I got you sorted. This site has been developed to help people who can't speak or read Mandarin. I use pinyin, characters and English to talk about food ordering, and how you can do it at specific restaurants. If you like it, then give me a shout! Ash.

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