Given the eager response from readers, Nana’s Green Tea is Seattle’s next Shake Shack, likely to draw endless lines for a glorious matcha sundae and other matcha-infused treats when the Japan-based chain opens its first mainland U.S. cafe this month in Denny Triangle. Final inspections and construction are preventing the company from offering a specific opening date yet, but it’s a safe bet Nana’s will open within the next two weeks.
For the acolytes and the unfamiliar alike, here are six new things to know about the impending Seattle expansion of Nana’s Green Tea, including details about the company’s first breakfast menu and expanded bakery offerings.
- The owner already has experience importing Japanese chains to Seattle. Jessmin Lau was one of the partners who flooded Seattle and beyond with about a dozen excellent Kizuki Ramen and Izakaya restaurants (formerly known as Kukai) over the last six years, arguably helping kick off Seattle’s current ramen craze. Lau sold her share of Kizuki’s last year and is now focused on Nana’s. Maybe she and the chain will kick off a matcha craze in Seattle next.
- Nana’s unique matcha blend could win over tea skeptics. It worked for Lau, who says she was always more into coffee than tea until she tried Nana’s in Japan: “If you think in terms of coffee, why do you like one maker’s coffee more than the other? It’s the type of beans and blend and roast.” Matcha, typically a blend of powdered green tea, is similar. Depending on how it’s grown, steamed, dried, crushed, steeped, and otherwise processed, its flavor changes. “It occurred to me if it could convert someone like me to liking matcha, it could work for others,” Lau says.
- This Nana’s is more takeout-friendly than any other. The store has 54 seats, but also allows takeout of almost everything on the menu, from parfaits to rice bowls, which is not common in Japan. This seems like a no-brainer, given that Nana’s is opening in the Amazon-dominated Denny Triangle and South Lake Union area where workers are likely looking for a quick bite or drink on the go.
- This is the first Nana’s in the world with a breakfast menu. Nana’s in its home country is a modern take on a Japanese tea house, with sweet and savory items geared toward lunch or dinner, all of which should also be available in Seattle. But this new store is meant to be an American cafe with a Japanese twist, hence the addition of the first-ever breakfast menu and a. It features handpies and sandwiches stuffed with “things like tofu teriyaki and my personal favorite, chicken nanban, with a kind of a sweet-sour sauce, really Japanese comfort food.”
- This Nana’s has more pastries baked on-site than any other store. While most Nana’s have perhaps three cakes baked on-site — chiffon, matcha chocolate, and matcha roll — Vancouver’s shop has a few extras, and Seattle will have even more, with at least 10 bakery items. The list is enticing, including hojicha roasted green tea cake, cookies with teas baked into them, yuzu cheesecake, muffins, and apple and red bean pie.
- This is probably not the last Nana’s in Seattle. It’s a chain, after all, so it should surprise no one that Lau hopes to open more locations in Greater Seattle. “The first Seattle store is viewed very highly in Japan, we’ve ben tailoring it to make the perfect entrance,” Lau says. Customers can expect a line of retail products and promotions like free gift sets to early adopters, anything to make a splash. “We [in Seattle are] so known for our coffee that I feel like it’s been difficult for tea to break into that market, but if there was any brand that could do that I think [it’s] Nana’s Green Tea.”
Nana’s should initially be open Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., but Lau says the hours might change after a month or so of operations.