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Matcha Café Maiko to Let Loose Matcha Treats of All kinds in Japantown

Enjoy matcha soft cream, frappes, lattes, and more when it opens in February

Matcha Café Maiko/Instagram

San Francisco’s first matcha café, Matcha Café Maiko, is set to open next month in Japantown following a year of construction. It will be the cafe’s third location, including its first in Honolulu and second in Tokyo.

Owner Chris Chin said his first visit to Café Maiko in Hawaii was what spurred his decision to open in SF. “I immediately fell in love with the place. I went back every day for two weeks trying different items and loved them all. I knew I had to bring Matcha Café Maiko to the Bay Area.” For the last year, Chin has been training in Hawaii on how to make the specialty desserts.

The café’s Maiko Special is its signature dish, and resembles a parfait because of its multiple layers of ingredients. Layers include plant-based jelly, Japanese brown sugar syrup, corn flakes, red beans, homemade matcha chiffon cake, mochi balls, and chestnuts, topped with a swirl of their creamy, popular matcha soft serve. Other options include matcha and hojicha (roasted green tea) drinks, frappes, and floats.

“The majority of our ingredients are sourced directly from Japan to ensure the same authentic taste as you would expect from a matcha café in Japan,” says Chin. The matcha powder used is organically grown, sourced from Harima Garden in Uji, Kyoto, home to the highest quality grade matcha and a seventh generation family business, having grown tea for over 200 years.

According to Chin, Japantown is the perfect destination for the city’s first matcha café. “This is the ideal location for us because we feel that we offer a flavor and experience consistent with what Japantown is all about.” As the franchise owner of Matcha Café Maiko for California, Chin also says he plans to introduce the café to the South Bay by the end of the year and eventually spread down to Southern California, pending the success of the San Francisco café. Other locations planned this year include Vancouver, Las Vegas, and Houston.

Though it will be the first such café to join the increasingly matcha-crazed Bay Area tea scene, there’s already a competitor on deck: Stonemill Matcha plans to open in the former Bar Tartine space this year. Stonemill’s mission is somewhat different however, as owner Eijiro Tsukada plans to serve traditionally prepared matcha sourced from Japan to educate guests about the popular green tea, paired with matcha pastries from Tartine Bakery and other cafe fare.

To celebrate its February opening (date TBD) there’ll be a buy one, get one free special and a fundraiser benefitting a local non-profit. Matcha Café Maiko is located inside the Japan Center Kinokuniya Building on Webster Street. Hours of operation: closed Mondays, Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday 12:30pm-9pm, and Fridays and Saturdays 12:30 p.m.-10 p.m.