The route appeared a tad intimidating at first glance, primarily since we would be walking from 17th Street to 27th Street. Unlike the widely dispersed avenues of Los Angeles, these streets were nestled fairly closely together. Consequently, the walk was breezy and pretty enjoyable when in the shade.
Although pleased to successfully locate the pink and green, I was less enthusiastic about joining the winding lineup directly positioned under mid-day UV rays.
Cha Cha Matcha's decor was outwardly gaudy to an excessive degree. Sure, the bubble-gum pink and luscious green was a fun, electrifying combination, but the tones grew overwhelming when used in abundance. In general, the interior seemed too over-the-top; there were far too many elements interfering with each other's impact of aesthetic radius, and the hot pink equipment was constantly observed in a dirty, half-cleaned-up state. This led the experience to be less tranquil than it could have been.
The green hue was lovely and the matcha flavour was nicely incorporated into the $5.44 specimen. Its unform flavour and smooth profile was well received, while the matcha retained appropriate depth. Sweetness levels were also acceptable.
Other options for soft serve included Vanilla and Matcha/Vanilla swirl.
Also worth a remark: despite the countless cups of powdered Japanese green tea in constant production during our stay, the shop does not make loose bags of matcha powder available for sale.
Along the way was Lady M, a bakery once heavily celebrated during the mille crepe craze, and a funny-looking inflatable salesman.
K-Beauty brands lined the north side of 32nd St: The Face Shop, Nature Republic, and a hybrid bookstore/gift shop/beauty retailer named Koryo Books were our shops of focus.
The Face Shop, on the other hand, adopted a less-than-standard presentation with extremely high prices.
"That's the other store." she reassured me.
And she was right. Regrettably, they did not have all seven members installed.
There was also a narrow, P.A.T.-esque staircase that led up to a floor of pastel-hued clothing items. Two shop attendants greeted us as we weaved through the displays, underneath the crouched ceiling, and onto the other side of the "indoor balcony".
A bit of research directed me to Ippodo Tea Co., which was approximately thirteen minutes northeast of 34th Street and 6th Avenue.
Seating and a resting area were essentially non-existent (besides two chairs intended for Kajitsu's patrons in wait). This meant apologetically taking over their side table to relieve my shoulder and upper limbs of muscle ache.
An incredible assortment of loose leaf teas (Genmaicha, Sencha, Houjicha, and more) and varying grades of ceremonial matcha were arranged about the counter. Near the cashier was a menu that was as minimal as it was diverse: Sencha and Matcha Lattes are common in many establishments, but including the options of Koicha (thick matcha) and Usucha (thin matcha) was profound. Gyokuro, Iribancha, and Mugicha were atypical items, as was the Matcha Slushy.
Samples of the slushy were also provided to satisfy our curiosities. It was interesting and tasty, with faint chunks of ice floating about. The grassy depth was present, however the consensus was that the drink was sweeter than preferred. A part of me wonders whether this was due to the usage of granulated sugar (versus a liquid sweetener such as flavourless rice syrup or a low-density honey).
It had been difficult to arrive at a decision with the numerous choices before me; I picked prudently for optimal matcha latte-crafting.