Saturday, March 5, 2011

Our Nada: A clean, well-lighted place

Splendid new teahouse discovery, via the Chicago Tea Lovers Meetup group!

Nada Tea & Coffee House is one of those places I've been meaning to visit for a couple of years, and the Meetup group finally gave me the excuse/opportunity to head in that direction. What a splendid afternoon we had — not just because we were chatty and warm as the wind howled and the snow swirled outside. Nada's the real deal, a narrow spot neatly paneled in bamboo (the place is smoothly designed by renowned architect Douglas Garofalo) and offering a fine menu of Japanese teas and some food.

What grabbed me right away was when I saw co-owner Hiro behind the counter whipping up a bowl of matcha. No matcha-flavored beverages, no pre-made matcha — just quality powder frothed with a bamboo whisk by a well-trained fellow from Japan. Hallelujah. They offer a few twists on this preparation, too — in a mug with whipped cream, Matcha Viennese, etc. — but nothing outlandish.

Tea samplers presented some simple, quality teas, and I had a superb hojicha, which was a perfect mate to the Oyakodon rice bowl. Others enjoyed some wonderful looking traditional soups, with plump udon noodles, and sandwiches. I took home a couple of scones: meh.

The joy of the place was in its simplicity and quality. It's just a good teahouse. The name says "tea & coffee," but I can't imagine who'd come in here for coffee.

"Nada," by the way, does not mean "nothing" here as it does in Spanish, we learned (so forgive my Hemingway allusion in the title of this post). The teahouse is named for a district in the city of Kobe famous for its sake.

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