Matcha Time Café

When we visited Matcha Time Café, the year-old tea house in Ellicott City, the little bubbling stream that goes under the bridge directly in front of it made it easy to forget that we were basically in a big parking lot. But we were. Right behind La Palapa. Matcha Time is divided into two. One side has Japanese gifts and the other is a well-stocked tea shop where you can order a from small menu dedicated to quick bites like sushi, which is what we came for. But they love tea so much that it almost seemed like an insult not to order it, so we got a chai tea ($3 for 12 ounces, unsweetened and strong, and not the latte version everyone is familiar with-though that is an option as well) and a tangerine-ginger herbal tea ($2.25 for 12 ounces). The ginger was hardly noticeable next to the tangerine, but it was still enjoyable. Bringing our appetites to the café, we ordered a spicy tuna roll ($6.99), which was fresh and good, but needed to be spicier; an avocado/cucumber roll ($4.99); and an order of onigiri ($4.50); two enormous and delectable rice balls-er, maybe more like rice pyramids-with little flakes of salmon throughout. And, although it often gets ignored, the miso soup ($2.25) was delicious-very smooth with silky seaweed and delicate tofu. It all made for a pleasant meal, followed by a stroll over to the shop next door, which was packed with imports like noren curtains, silks, origami paper, manga, and chopsticks. This place would be a delight for any Japanophile.

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