|Matcha Latte Afternoon Tea special ($5)|
Upon entering Basho Cafe on East Hastings (my old teenage stomping grounds!) you are immediately taken aback by the fine details evident in the decor and the food. By gosh, even the door handle at the front has a knitted warmer wrapped around it!
|Hand knitted succulent cozy. Details, people!|
Down to the handcrafted pottery and dishes, the reclaimed, handmade furniture, the retro trays, hand sewn coasters and placemats I am oh so impressed. The family that runs this cafe is very much detail-oriented and passionate about what they do.
The cafe is extaordinarily tiny and some patrons pretty much squat there with an open laptop while sipping their matcha lattes and nibbling on their cookies a la Starbucks lounge. I don't know. I would feel awkward personally what with the huge lineups out the door to do that. Sure, chatting and leisurely eating and drinking is apropros but alone with a laptop and all your work out? come on. You're not gonna study for hours nursing your $5 afternoon tea set are ya? I would feel bad that the owners weren't getting enough turnover and would go out of business with you doing that, laptop-squatter. Just sayin.
|Matcha Latte & Sweets|
I have already been here twice; this post consists of pics snagged on my Instagram account during a gal-pal get together and with my family. I think this cafe is a good meet-me-for-tea-I-haven't-seen-you-in-a-while sort of place. Because of the limited seating, large parties aren't really doable. This is a good two-person meeting venue. Don't come here with your party of 8. I've seen this. It's not pretty and it's not a bubble tea joint. My husband took off and went next door to the A&W next door because it was all too much girlie stuff. lol. It was too frou-frou for him here. Not that guys can't like frou-frou. There were a few guys there eating meals. It's just Stomach isn't into frou-frou and I was doing the frou-frou afternoon tea. Let me know how many guys you have seen that can sit through the Secret Garden Tea Company High Tea in Kerrisdale without being highly cognizant of the fact that everyone else is female. Bull in China Shop comes to mind. Everything's too darned tiny, delicate and pretty for him I think.
|Chocolate Chip Cookie|
At Basho, you go to the counter and order your food. Hopefully if you get there early enough, you get a table and the food is brought to you when it is ready. This isn't Starbucks so things take a little bit more time. My matcha latte came perfectly adorned with microfoam art and accompanied by my assorted sweets. If you purchase an afternoon tea set, you get mini sweets. On my gal-pal visit, my afternoon matcha latte set sweets consisted of: 1/2 a madeleine, a mini brownie bite and a green tea almond cookie.
|A pot of Green Tea accompanied by a green tea and almond cookie|
The sweets were very yummy and Japanese inspired. Japanese fusion sweets I guess? Some of the sweets were gluten free because of the use of Japanese mochiko flour. There is also an intriguing menu of meals that I'd like to come back to try another day for lunch and dinner.
|Sandwich cookie with matcha filling|
So the old 'hood sure is gentrifying. Though Penny's and On Lok are still across the street from Basho, I noticed the whole area simply looks different with the cafes and newer restaurants like the Red Wagon and Yolk's dotted around the area. This is good. Foodie foot traffic is good.
|Matcha latte art|
I would totally recommend this little cafe. I've had several girlfriends who have gone after my recommendation and loved it too. The environment is eclectic and the food is delicious. If you love matcha lattes and Japanese inspired foods this is the place for you. I'm a sucker for decor, environment and aesthetic. Because of its popularity, you may be disappointed because of the long queue. So long as you find a quiet time to visit you'll enjoy yourself.
I really love how all the pots and door handles are covered with a knit jacket/skin, much like Secret Garden. I hope Basho can find a way to expand in the future cause I'd love if they opened up a downtown location (and possibly replace the old Saijins Green Tea Cafe).
I agree that a larger, open space would be great! I would think some place with more parking on the Eastside would suffice. Downtown rent is too crazy I think. Maybe Fraser or Main street or a little corner store like Marche St George in the Strathcona neighbourhood instead. Lots of great restos setting up off the beaten path is a good thing and more promising for success with lower rents and overhead
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