Nama Chocolate – “Maccha”
I came across these chocolates in a gift shop at Tokyo’s Nartia airport and given my love of both matcha and chocolate, I had to grab a box for myself. One of the most delicious deserts I’ve ever eaten was daifuku (a “cake” of glutenous rice surrounding sweet bean paste) dusted with matcha (green tea powder intended for tea ceremony). The sweetness of the daifuku contrasted with the gentle fragrant bitterness of the matcha was incredible. It may have helped a bit that I was eating the stuff among the maple trees in the shadow of kinkaku-ji, AKA the golden pavilion, of Kyoto. Still I wonder, could the same sweet-bitter balance work for these chocolate treats even if chocolate is already a combination of bitter and sugar?
Tasting and Review of Royce’ Nama Chocolate from Japan
The taste was definitely milky and dominated more by matcha than chocolate, but it brought me to a different place than the daifuku of Kyoto. The rich milky sweetness and bitter tea brought me to Tokyo and the ubiquitous Tully’s Coffee. Yes, Tully’s makes consistently great coffee drinks, but I sometimes get their hot or cold Matcha Latte – some green tea powder whipped up with a bunch of milk and more than enough sugar to get me through a few meetings at the office. It’s a bit decadent, but I like to treat myself when I travel far from home – throwing the rules out the window since I’m usually enduring some level of physical discomfort pretty much 24-7.
Nama chocolate reminded me of those milky bitter-sweet flavors of Tully’s Matcha Latte and what I like about Tokyo, and there’s a lot to like. This is a fun and unique confection that’s set up nicely for sharing with pre-cut squares. I had tasted the chocolate before I found an English translation of the ingredients, but was not surprised to find that this is white chocolate. This explains the lack of any distinct cocoa flavor – white chocolate is simply cocoa butter and sugar. Royce’s approach makes perfect sense because the matcha tea brings in the bitter flavor to fill the void left by removing the cocoa solids from the chocolate.
Ingredients: Fresh cream, cocoa butter, sugar, skim milk powder, whole milk powder, lactose, powdered green tea, cherry brandy, soy lecithin, artificial flavor.
I’m not happy to find artificial flavor on the ingredients list, but this chocolate is more about having fun than eating health food. Still, I hope they can find away to remove artificial flavor from the recipe even if it adds cost.
Last Bite – Nama Chocolate “Maccha”
I paid about 800 Yen in the airport, but for another 100, they wrap it up in a little cold pack so that it can survive the 14 hour ride back to the US in good condition. Royce’ makes chocolate on Japan’s northern-most island, Hokkaido, using local cream from the region. Royce’ has three retail shops in New York City, so check it out if you’re looking for something unique, on the sweet side, but with balance and attention to detail that you’d expect from a Japanese product.
 I paid for this chocolate myself
 The most common roman-alphabet spelling for ceremonial green tea powder is “matcha.” I assume Royce’ spells it as “maccha” as a stylized product name and indirect reference to matcha.