Boxwood Cafe at The London West Hollywood

I took this week’s post-Oscar drama about Lupita Nyongo’s stolen pearl-studded dress as a sign that I should finally share about my tea experience at The Boxwood Cafe from several months back. In November, I visited on a bright and beautiful late Saturday afternoon when I could fully appreciate the restaurant during a proper 3 o’clock tea time. The restaurant’s modern yet classic style, the panoramic views of LA’s skyline, and a promising review from a fellow SoCal food blogger the had me anticipating a good time.

In my humble option, LA’s tea scene is a bit lacking, particularly when it comes the idea of modern tea. For such a culturally diverse city, it’s frustrating how limited the options are. There are a handful of Victorian style and extravagant 5-star resorts for tea-ing, with fewer options in between. Afternoon tea at The London strikes a balance between these two styles, relaxed enough where you can stroll in Hollywood casual, yet finished enough where you still get that sense of vintage tea tradition. I love the restaurant’s comfortably elegant decor, especially their pastel blue and gold quilted couches, which remind me of my recipe for Quilted Petit Fours.
Great service is always a plus. If you’ve ever watched Gordon Ramsay in action, then you know that he’s big on making sure his staff are courteous, friendly, and knowledgable about his restaurants’ menus. Our server at Boxwood Cafe was certainly all of the above, and suggested that I try the Rose Tea with French Vanilla, which tasted elegant and lightly rosy without being too perfume-like.

Another great thing about Boxwood Cafe is that guests can also order off of the regular menu. This helps if you plan on bringing someone along who *ahem* prefers a standard lunch over afternoon tea (my hubby ordered a burger with truffle fries).

So here we go, from top to bottom…tea for one. A beautiful site, isn’t it?The currant scone was tender and buttery, and I actually like that they give you just one, with plenty of tangy lemon curd and Devonshire cream. It may sound strange, but I like think of the singular offering as a form of portion control. A few bites to savor, fullyThe raspberry financier was good, not great. It was a little on the dry side, but I think that’s typical when you aren’t eating these immediately after they’ve come out of the oven. An extra sip of hot tea and everything is solved.
Next…on to the savories! I’ve enjoyed many a tea sandwich and must admit that I found these to be carefully and thoughtfully made. The Smoked Salmon and Cucumber? Predictable in flavor but still very tasty. The Curry Chicken? Spicy and sweet, with just the right amount of curry powder.My favorite sandwich was the Asparagus and Ham, on lightly buttered bread. The asparagus is blanched and peeled into paper-thin strips so that it has texture of lettuce. The flavors are light, fresh, and spring-like. If you are getting hungry and curious but aren’t anywhere near LA to partake, no worries! The sandwich was so good, I’ll be attempting to make a copy-cat version of it soon, so stay tuned!

Last but not least, we have the petit fours–the crowning glory of any tea time extravaganza. The L’Opera Cake was my favorite, mainly because of the rich chocolate. The cake has several lightly boozy layers of spongy cake, and is kind of like a tiramisu. The Lemon Tart was also good, but a bit of a short-cut cheat on the pastry chef’s part since it’s made from the same lemon curd that’s served with the scones. Here are a few final glimpses of The London West Hollywood on my way out. I was delighted to catch a look at the hotel’s stylish elevators, glossed with a black and white image of a dashing gentleman offering tea service. What a brilliant design concept. I can almost hear the butler saying: “At your service, madame.” How very Downton Abbey.Don’t be startled, right outside the café you’ll find an English Bulldog door stop…quintessentially English (the dog, not the door stop) and simply adorable. Too bad he isn’t real. And with that I’ll leave you with my wisest tip for taking tea at The London in West Hollywood: dress comfortable and dress classy, but real or fake, make sure to leave those pearl accessories at home!

Boxwood Cafe at The London West Hollywood

1020 N San Vicente Blvd

West Hollywood, CA 90069


Tea on Saturdays & Sundays, 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM

Dim Sum Recipe #12: Golden Pineapple Buns (Bolo Bao)

Happy Chinese New Year!!

I hope the Year of the Sheep finds you in good sprits and ready to eat!

Yesterday my family met up for an early celebratory Chinese New Year dim sum lunch. For the first time, the hubby and I actually gave red envelopes to my niece, Maddy. As as gesture of promise and prosperity during this holiday, it’s custom for older people give good luck money stuffed in small red envelopes to the little ones. This year, the hubby and I decided to finally acknowledge ourselves as older people.
Along with red, gold is also an iconic color during Chinese New Year. We’re not talking frosty gold, we’re talking yellow, shiny, like-the-sunshine gold–the 24 K variety. Golden Pineapple Buns are where the culinary meets the karats. These buns bake-off with a gorgeous, rich, and slightly crunchy cookie-like topping. You won’t find a more quintessential Hong Kong style treat to snack on while taking in Chinese New Year festivities.Just so it’s clear, there’s absolutely no pineapple in these Golden Pineapple Buns. The name is purely inspired out of the rough textured look of the buns, like the jagged surface of a pineapple. If you’ve never enjoyed them before, think of these as a rich, buttery cookie hopping on the back of a soft, chewy bun.

This bun dough is adapted from my recipe for Baked Char Siu Bao. I swap out the oil in that savory recipe with butter here to create a richer, brioche-like dough. I also add some more sugar (1/3 cup verses 1/4 cup). What remains the same is the added water roux (tangzhong), which creates a milky-soft, chewy texture to the buns.

If you eat these straight out of the oven, the tops will be crunchy and crumbly. I actually like them even more a bit later, after they’ve cooled and the buttery crust softens. If you eat them the day after baking, a quick 15-20 second zap in the microwave and they are every bit as delicious as day they were baked.

A dark, complex Wuyi Oolong (a.k.a. Grand Scarlett Robe) or an earthy, peaty Pu-Erh are ideal pairings for these buns. Both will be bold and rich enough to stand up to that buttery crown of goodness!
Pineapple Buns (Bolo Bao)

Makes 16- 3″ buns.


{Bun Dough}

3 cups bread flour

3 Tbsp Bird’s Custard Powder

1 Tbsp nonfat dry milk

1 Tbsp instant yeast (I use SAF instant)

1/3 cup white sugar

5 Tbsp butter (at room temperature)

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup water

bench flour and oil for proofing bowl

{Water Roux}

1/2 cup water

2 Tbsp bread flour

{Pineapple Topping}

1 stick butter (at room temperature)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 T Bird’s Custard Powder

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract

{Egg Wash}

1 egg

1 tsp milk


small saucepan or pot

stand mixer with dough hook attachment or bread machine

2 large baking sheets, fitted with parchment

medium bowl

large work surface

plastic wrap

chef’s knife

small bowl

pastry brush

cooling rack


1.)  Make the Water Roux. Place a 1/2 cup of cold water into a small saucepan and add the 2 Tbsp of bread flour. Mix well until the mixture resembles homogenized milk, then turn on the stove top to medium heat. Cook the roux until it thickens up and has the consistency of a thick yogurt, making sure to keep the mixture a pure white color by not overcooking. The mixture should not exceed 150 degrees F. Place the mixture into a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap, making contact with the top surface of the roux (to prevent a skin from forming). You should end up with about 1/3 cup of roux, ready to use when it has cooled back down to room temperature.

2.)  Make the Bun Dough. Using the bowl of a stand mixer, place all the wet dough ingredients (including the roux) into the mixing bowl. Place the bowl in the stand mixer with a dough hook attachment and start to mix on low-speed. Add the yeast, sugar, milk powder, and custard powder first. Then add the bread flour gradually, a cup at a time, scraping down the insides of the mixing bowl periodically. Increase the speed to low-medium and continue to mix until the shaggy mass becomes a soft and supple ball of dough. If necessary, gradually add a teaspoon of water at a time until the dough comes together. Knead the dough for 10 minutes. Transfer the ball of dough to an oiled bowl to proof, lightly coating all sides of the dough with some of the same oil. Cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough proof in a warm, draft free place for 30-40 minutes or until the mass has doubled in volume.

3.)  Make the Pineapple Topping. In a medium bowl, mix all the topping ingredients together thoroughly. Transfer this topping dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap, then use the wrap to shape the dough into a log/cylinder, about 3″ in diameter. Unravel the plastic wrap from the dough, then cut it into 16 equal pieces (cut the log in half, then each half in half again until you get 16 pieces). Cover and set aside.

4.)  Portion Out the Dough. After the dough has doubled in volume, punch it down and transfer it to a work surface lightly dusted with bench flour. Give the dough a few light kneadings, then portion dough out into 16 equal pieces.

5.)  Shape the Buns. Shape each of the 16 pieces into a round, slightly flat ball. Place them on the large baking sheet, 8 to a sheet, so that they are at least 3″ apart from each other. Cover the buns with a large piece of plastic wrap, then let the buns rise for 30-40 minutes, or long enough for them to have doubled in puffiness. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

6.)  Shape the Pineapple Topping. While the buns are proofing, shape each piece of the topping dough into a round-edged 3″ disk. Just use your hands to shape them. When the buns have doubled in puffiness, place one topping dough disk over each proofed bun, carefully placing it so that the bun doesn’t deflate.

7.)  Finish and Bake. In a small bowl, mix together the egg and milk to create an egg wash. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the buns (the topping dough) generously with the egg wash. Bake the buns for 22-25 minutes, until the tops are golden. Remove from the oven, then transfer the buns to a cooling rack to sit for a few minutes before serving.

*** Tip:  Store leftover buns in fridge for up to 5 days.  When you are ready to eat them, reheat the buns in the microwave for 15-20 seconds or until warm and soft again.

Tea of the Week: Red Blossom Tea Company’s Grand Scarlet Robe

Chinese New Year is a time when the most enticing foods are served in plenty. If you are looking for a well-rounded cup of Chinese tea to go along with those bites and meals, then there’s no need to look any further. Red Blossom Tea Company’s Heritage Beido, also known as Grand Scarlet Robe, is a rich Wuyi Oolong, grown from cultivars thought to be direct descendents of very rare Da Hong Pao mother trees.
Grand Scarlet Robe…now doesn’t that sound luxurious? Well, in taste and price, it is. Da Hong Pao (the Chinese translation of Grand Scarlet Robe) is the name of the mother trees that this Heritage Beido is thought to have derived from. Often called the world’s most expensive tea or the king of oolongs, Da Hong Pao is usually reserved for wealthy connoisseurs and dignitaries in China. It’s rumored that even President Nixon received some as a gift from Chairman Mao during his visit to China in 1972.
Although some may compare this tea to a smokey Lapsang Souchong, I completely disagree. Whereas I find Lapsang to be over-the-top assertive, where you can literally taste the pine wood fire it’s burned over, this Wuyi Oolong is well-balanced and smooth. When brewed with care, you can taste all of its sweet, savory, fruity, and roasty notes equally. This is one beautifully harmonious sip, one that came highly recommended by the Red Blossom Tea Company staff.

Tasting Notes for Red Blossom Tea Company’s Heritage Beido (Grand Scarlet Robe):

BREWING TIPS:  Rinse the leaves in a small amount of 200 degree F water for 1 second, then drain and discard the liquid. This will help to soften the leaves in preparation for steeping. Steep the leaves at 200 degrees F for 1 minute, 20 seconds for the first infusion. For each subsequent infusion, steep for an additional 30 seconds more than the last infusion. You should be able to get 3-4 flavorful infusions out of these leaves. I like to brew this tea in very small batches, in a small teapot or gaiwan for maximum control during brewing.

THE TEA:  Blackish-brown, wiry, twisted leaves. Some of the leaves are up to 2 1/2 inches in length.

THE SCENT:  Strongly woody, like a whiff of smoldery leaves after a light charring. There’s something tobacco-like about the scent, in the best way possible.

THE STEEP:  A rich, golden amber. Toasty, warm, and reminiscent of peach pit. The tea has a honey-like, floral sweetness with caramel and toffee notes–a result of its traditional “heritage” charcoal roasting.

GET IT:  In San Francisco’s Chinatown at the Red Blossom Tea Company, or online at the Red Blossom Tea Company site.

FOOD PAIRING:  This tea is going to be delicious with Chinese New Year Favorites like Siu Mai Dumplings, BBQ Pork Buns (steamed or baked), or Egg Custard Tarts. For an Asian American twist, serve them with Waffle Cone Fortune Cookies with some auspicious messages tucked inside!

Glazed Chocolate Petit Fours

Ah yes, here we are at Valentine’s Day, once again. Back when I was younger, I remember February 14th as being either a day of great excitement or a total downer (a.k.a Singles Awareness Day). Now that I’m older and somewhat wiser, I’m glad to have developed an enlightened perspective: it’s simply the day that helps florists stay in business before Mother’s Day finally arrives! Gotta love the wisdom that comes with age.

I’ve told my hubby this year that all he needs to do to make me a happy gal is to give me a hand-written love note. No flowers, no baubles, just the a note that I can look back at someday and smile. In return, I’ll present him with these Glazed Chocolate Petit Fours, a gift that we both can benefit from. That’s the thing about V-Day…even if there’s no handsome prince or lovely lady in the picture, you’ve gotta find a way to treat yourself right!
These Glazed Chocolate Petit Fours may look complicated to make, but I take a huge short cut by starting with store-bought pound cake. Pound cake is ideal for making petit fours since the crumb is tight and the vanilla base easily pairs with so many gorgeous flavors, from fruit jams to best-quality cocoa powder to infused booze (framboise and hazelnut liquor are my favorites!).glazed chocolate petit fours 2Since I hate running into problems with tempering chocolate, I like to either use a ganache or chocolate glaze to coat my petit fours. If you like a less-sweet petit four that’s still rich in chocolate taste, I’d definitely suggest going for the second option of a gelatin-based chocolate glaze. As you can see, it dries super glossy and smooth. It’s also easier to work with than regular chocolate is.
Another tip for making petit fours is to make sure you have some mini cupcake liners to serve them in. Creating these little cakes can be a messy affair, especially since the excess coating has to drip off. Cupcake liners help to hide a rough bottom edge so that the cakes look as elegant as possible.

A tart, ruby-red cup of hibiscus tea is my drink of choice when it comes to these Glazed Chocolate Petit Fours. You can also turn up the romance with Wedgwood’s 1870 Golden Rose or T-Project’s I’ll Take You There tea blends. And with that I’d like to wish you a very Happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s hoping that it’s one filled with substance, heart, and a healthy dose of chocolate!

Glazed Chocolate Petit Fours

Makes 20 petit fours.


1 standard pound cake loaf, store-bought is fine

1/4 cup framboise

1/4 cup raspberry jam, seedless and sieved to remove chunky bits

3.5 oz. marzipan

cornstarch, for rolling marzipan

heart-shaped sprinkles

white nonpareils 

{Chocolate Glaze}

1/3 cup water

1 Tbsp+ 2 tsp unflavored gelatin

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup best-quality cocoa powder, sifted

2 tsp vanilla extract


serrated knife


oval-shaped petit four cutter

work surface

spreading knife


pastry brush

small bowl

medium pot

wooden spoon

dipping or regular fork

1 small ladle

cooling rack

large sheet pan fitted with parchment paper

kitchen tweezers

small sharp knife or thin cookie spatula

20 mini cupcake liners


1.)  Prepare the Pound Cake. On a work surface using a serrated knife, cut the pound cake loaf into horizontal, large slices, about 8 1/2 ” x 4 1/2″ x 3/8″ thick. Now, use the oval petit four cutter to cut out as many ovals as possible from the flat, even cake slices (save the topmost, golden crust of the pound cake for snacking on later). You should be able to punch out 60 ovals from one standard pound cake loaf.

2.)  Flavor and Layer the Cake Slices. Brush each cake oval with a light and even dab of framboise or flavoring liquor. You want the cake to be moist without drenching it. After all the cake ovals are moistened, use a spreading knife to apply a thin, even layer of jam on each oval. Stack the cake ovals up, neatly, 3 to a stack. Place the 20 cake stacks on a large plate and put them in fridge to chill for about 10 minutes.

3.)  Roll and Attach the Marzipan. While the cake stacks are chilling, roll the marzipan to 1/16″, about the thickness of a quarter. If the marzipan is sticky, you can use some cornstarch to dust the work surface and your rolling-pin. Punch out 20 ovals of marzipan with the same oval petit four cutter. Take the cakes out of the fridge, then lay one marzipan piece on each cake stack. Place the cakes back in the fridge to chill.

4.)  Prepare the Chocolate Glaze. In a small bowl, bloom the gelatin powder with the 1/3 cup of water. In a medium pot, heat the sugar, cream, and cocoa powder over low heat. Stir the mixture until it starts to simmer. Shut the heat off, then add the bloomed gelatin and vanilla extract. Continue to mix until the glaze is thick and glossy, without any gelatin lumps.

5.)  First Coating. Take the cakes out of the fridge. Holding a fork over the pot with your left hand, use your right hand to place one cake on the dipping fork. Again, use your right hand to use the small ladle to pour the glaze on over the cake so that it becomes entirely enrobed in the glaze. Let the excess glaze drip off the cake, then transfer it to a cooling rack placed over a large baking sheet fitted with parchment. Repeat this process for the rest of the petit fours.

6.)  Second Coating and Decoration. For best looks and taste, coat each petit four a second time in the glaze using the same fork and ladle method in Step 5. Immediately after each transferring each petit four to the cooling rack, use kitchen tweezers to carefully place the heart-shaped sprinkle and 3 dots on the cakes. The cakes cool fast so if you do not decorate after each coating the sprinkles will not adhere. If the pot of glaze starts to cool and gets too thick, simply put it back on low heat to thin it out again.

7.)  Finish the Petit Fours. After all the petit fours have been double-coated and decorated, let them cool for about 20 minutes before using a sharp knife or thin cookie spatula to release them from the cooling rack. Place them in mini cupcake liners for easy serving. The cakes should be stored in the fridge in an airtight container.

Waffle Cone Fortune Cookies

What better way to celebrate the upcoming Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year holidays than with a crispy pile of golden fortune cookies! I always find it amusing how these humble little cookies have such a festive and auspicious place in popular culture. I also love that they are distinctively Asian American, created in the good old USA with Chinese and Japanese inspiration.As far as I’m concerned, one thing is clear. Any message I receive through a fortune cookie is solid information. True? Maybe not at this very moment, but you never know what tomorrow will bring! A cookie with a hidden message of whimsical wisdom tucked inside…gotta love the fun in that!
With this recipe for Waffle Cone Fortune Cookies, I’ve made the traditional fortune cookie just that much more gourmet. Instead of using regular milk, I use coconut milk and a splash of vanilla extract for extra fragrance and flavor. Served plain or even dipped in melted chocolate, they are like a standard fortune cookie with a bit of extra yum.
Although I use my new favorite kitchen toy, a Petit Waffle Cone Maker, to create these, you can easily use a regular griddle or a flat pan over medium heat. Some recipes out there suggest using the oven, but this has never worked for me since I can’t shape the cookies fast enough when they come out 6 at a time, all at once.

Time is of the essence here, as you must work quickly to shape the cookies while they are still warm. The process of taking the flat cookie off the griddle, placing the fortune paper inside, and then shaping the cookie should take no more than 10-15 seconds. If you have heat-sensitive fingers you may want to have a small bowl of chilled water nearby for relief, just incase.As for me, I pull in the corners of each hot, folded cookie in one swift, sturdy motion. A single chopstick makes it easy to create an inner angled corner to this crescent-shaped cookie. The cookies are best eaten just after they are made, with a hot cup of Chinese tea like a Pu-erh or Oolong. Remember, work fast and without hesitation, and you’re destined to get the most beautiful looking fortune cookies…that’s my lucky message for you!Waffle Cone Fortune Cookies

Makes 16 cookies. 


2 Tbsp butter

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

pinch of salt

2 Tbsp coconut milk

1 tsp vanilla


scissors or exacto knife with cutting mat

fortune cookie message template, printed with 16 messages

small microwave-safe mixing bowl

teaspoon measure

Petit Waffle Cone Maker or griddle or pan over medium heat

thin spatula


small teacup or bowl, to hold shape of cooling cookie

small bowl of chilled water (optional, if you have delicate hands)

work surface or large plate


1.)  Print and cut out the fortune cookie messages. I used a blank fortune cookie template, then typed in the messages before printing. If you have nice penmanship you can write them in too!
2.)  Make the batter by melting the butter in the microwave-safe bowl on low for about 30 seconds, until fully melted. Add the sugar to the butter, then mix well. Mix in the egg, until the batter is evenly incorporated. Add the flour and salt, then mix again to create a pancake-like batter. Finally add the coconut milk and vanilla extract and mix in throughly.

3.)  Heat the Petit Waffle Cone Maker to medium heat (I used the #3 setting). When the heat has come up to temperature, spoon out 2 teaspoons of the batter into one of the 3″ cone circles. Lower the top of the waffle cone maker to create an evenly thin cookie. If using a griddle or pan, you will have to use the back of a spoon to smooth out the batter to an even 3″ circle. Let the flat cookie cook for about 1 minute or until it looks golden brown.

4.)  Using a thin spatula, quickly move the flat cookie to a work surface. Place the fortune inside, then fold the cookie over to create a taco-like shape. The faster you move, the better. 
5.)  Immediately, use your left hand to hold the tip of a chopstick at the center base of the taco shape, then use your right index finger and thumb to pull the sides of the cookie inwards.  

6.)  Carefully place the cookie in a small teacup or bowl until it cools completely. Repeat steps 3-5 to create 16 Waffle Cone Fortune Cookies. 

Tea of the Week: Wedgwood’s 1870 Golden Rose

Are you ready for Valentine’s Day? Whether you are buying a bouquet for your sweetie or even for yourself this February 14th, roses are always a good idea. For a change on tradition, you might think about gifting your bouquet in tea form. That’s where Wedgwood’s 1870 Golden Rose comes into play. This blend is a lovely potpourri of fruit and flowers, a blended Chinese green tea that I am officially over the moon about.

If the Wedgwood name sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same British company known for its elegant porcelain and bone china. I was so happy to discover that Wedgwood recently started selling their teas here in the US, and this tea was one of the main reasons for that excitement.

Wedgwood’s 1870 Golden Rose is a distinctively feminine blend, a treasure among perfume-like teas. This steep is elegant and charmed, like a pure taste of romance. If you or your sweetie loves the idea of stepping through a bountiful English garden of sweet berries and fragrant blooms, then I’m sure that you’ll simply adore this tea.

Tasting Notes for Wedgwood’s 1870 Golden Rose:

BREWING TIPS:  Brew at 175 degrees F for 3-5 minutes. As this is a delicate green tea, be careful not to overbrew.

THE BLEND:  Made up of twisted green tea leaves, large rose petals, strawberry pieces, and cornflowers.

THE SCENT:  If I were rich, I would place piles of this tea around my house. The tea is scented like a thriving English garden between spring and summer. Or, if you can’t imagine that, it’s like going to a farmer’s market and walking into a stall that only sells ripe strawberries and big, fat, just-bloomed roses. If the winter has you missing the scent (and taste!) of red, ripe strawberries, then this is the tea for you…true aromatherapy!

THE STEEP:  A golden, soft orange. This is a lightly sunny sip with mild bok choy notes from the Chinese green tea base. You could add a touch of honey to this tea to accentuate its floral notes.

GET IT:  Online, at the US Wedgwood site, the Canadian Wedgwood site, or the UK Wedgwood site for tea lovers living in Europe.

FOOD PAIRING:  This is a great tea to have with a classic afternoon tea spread of English Scones or Mini Cream Sconestea sandwiches, and petit fours. Also lovely when enjoyed with a simple slice of toast and jam

Matcha Sushi Balls

Sushi rice balls or temari are easily becoming my new favorite tea meal. These colorful rice bites are a twist on ordinary cut sushi rolls, simpler to make (no sushi mat required!) and with an added touch of artistic flair. I love that you can make them using leftover tidbits of this and that, whatever you have on hand in the fridge. Like dim sum or a tea sandwich, they are delightful little delicacies, ideally served with a soothing cup of Japanese tea.

Sushi balls can be made with host of pre-prepped ingredients like lunch meats, cocktail shrimp, or even thinly sliced sushi grade fish. Here, I’ve used smoked salmon, which is easy to find and enhances the rich umami taste of the matcha flavored rice. Eaten together this way, you can taste the best of flavors from land and sea.

For vegetarian variations, you’ll want to showcase the beauty of your produce as much as possible. A cluster of carefully sliced green onions, thin pieces of ripe avocado, or vibrant orange carrot cut-outs add flavor and visual flair to your sushi game. Even Western ingredients like cheese, capers, and sliced olives make pretty embellishments.Above all, remember that creativity is key when making temari sushi. Try selecting colorful ingredients that are easily molded around the rice ball, not too bulky or too large. If you like your sushi more on the traditional side, you can nix the matcha power and make the rice balls plain, seasoned simply with sweetened rice vinegar. These crafty homemade sushi are ideal for parties, bento lunches, or even a romantic dinner. Serve them with emerald green gyokuro, grassy sencha, or caffeine-free soba cha and your artful Japanese tea meal is complete.
Matcha Sushi Balls

Makes 20 rice balls. 


{Seasoned Rice}

2 cups sushi rice

3 cups water

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

1 1/2 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp matcha


a few slices of smoked salmon




masago or caviar

cocktail shrimp, halved down the spine

black sesame seeds


rice cooker or medium pot with cover

small pot

small sifter

wooden spoon

plastic wrap, a piece the size of a sheet of paper

small bowl of cold water

large plate or baking sheet

2 Tbsp cookie dough scoop

sharp paring knife, kitchen scissors, or mini vegetable cutters


1.)  Place the rice in the pot, then wash it several times until the water runs clear. Drain off the water from the rice, then add the 3 cups of water. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat, then let the rice cook for 20 minutes on a low simmer until all the water is absorbed.

2.)  While the rice is cooking, prepare the seasoned vinegar. Warm the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

3.)  When the rice has absorbed all the water, let it sit for 5 minutes, then add the sweet vinegar seasoning. Sift the matcha over the hot rice, then gently incorporate it with the wooden spoon.

4.)  To make the rice balls, dip the ice cream scoop into a bowl of cold water, then scoop out the seasoned rice onto a large plate or baking sheet. For the sushi balls to all be the same size, pack the rice into the scoop and level it off.

5.)  Place the toppings on each rice ball. Use a sharp paring knife, kitchen scissors, or mini vegetable cutters to cut the toppings into pretty shapes. The toppings you add at this point will end up lying flush against the surface of the rice ball. Shape the rice balls by placing one in the center of a piece of plastic wrap lightly damped with water. Use the plastic wrap to mold the topping against the rice ball, using your hand to create a smooth surface.6.)  Remove the rice ball from the plastic wrap and place on a serving platter. At this point, you can finish the temari with delicate finishes like capers, masago, furikake, or sesame seeds. Repeat steps 4-6 to create 20 sushi balls…enjoy!