Katsute 100’s London-born managing director Joe Mossman’s fascination with Japan’s cuisine, history, and culture led him to open his first Japanese izakaya inspired restaurant namely, Tenshi on Upper Street, Islington in 2009.
When a charming period property became vacant on nearby Islington High Street, Joe immediately knew what his next move would be. He set to work designing his new tea shop and café with décor, furniture, and fittings reflecting a blend of influences from traditional Japan to late-Georgian London, creating a unique ambience. He filled Katsute 100 with an impressive range of Japanese teas, sakes, and ceramics.
Along with a superb selection of delicious cakes and desserts, all prepared and hand-baked on the premises, Katsute 100 offers residents of London a unique setting in which to explore some of the lesser-known aspects of Japanese food and beverage culture.
Bewitched by the Katsute 100's offerings, we interviewed Joe Mossman, the founder of this charming Japanese tea salon located in Angel, London.
Where did the idea for Katsute 100 come from?
Katsute100 came from my love of Japan, and especially Japanese tea. There’s a refined elegance and peacefulness to it that always brings me calm, and I wanted to share that atmosphere with the people of London as well, but I wanted to bring something unique as well.
It’s Japanese, with hints of British tradition blended in to create familiarity to the “exotic”.
The name comes from the Japanese word “Katsute”, which conveys a sense of old times and nostalgia. The tea room itself is in a historic building and has a tranquil vintage atmosphere, with antique Japanese furniture and elegant early 20th century aesthetics, therefore the name is appropriate for the experience the customers have.
The latter part of the name, the number 100, is the street address of our first branch and headquarters. Coincidentally, one of my favourite vintage Japanese songs by Ego Wrappin is also titled “Katsute”, a jazz piece which is very redolent of the golden era of Dave Brubeck and Bill Evans.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive, keep yourself busy?
Every day is different because of the varying demands of this kind of business. You don’t get much choice whether to be busy or not; you just have to deal with whatever comes your way.
I focus on my tasks and break them down into smaller, more manageable ones, and I find it pretty motivating when you finish parts of a larger task as it feels more productive this way.
I also always talk to the staff a bit, find out if there are any problems or if they have any suggestions about anything.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive?
Taking some time out to go for a walk, or listen to music in between busy work demands.
People always say that nature heals you, and a good dose of sunlight and fresh air always helps to clear the mind and bring the focus back onto the task at hand, so I generally try to keep a good balance between work and fun.
What advice would you give your younger self?
My advice to myself would be to launch the business sooner! You’ll never know what you can achieve until you just do it, so don’t hold yourself back with worries and “what if’s”.
What is the one thing you do over and over again and recommend everyone else do?
Never underestimate the power of support from your loved ones. I like to talk through my business ideas and projects with friends and family because it helps me to step back and look at the larger picture to make sure that things are on track.
Their advice and thoughts are always invaluable, and they can often see things as an outside party that I might not initially, which is very helpful when it comes to things I’m not entirely sure about.
They may also have great ideas to add to my own, and then things can only get better and better with their input. I trust my vision and convictions, but I also like to bounce things off other people to make sure I haven’t overlooked anything.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Always focusing on quality and authenticity, as people relate to that the most.
When something tastes good, word will spread organically without having to do anything over the top, as the product speaks for itself.
What's one trend in the F&B industry that excites you?
One side-effect of the pandemic has been the increased importance of outdoor seating. I like the idea of more al-fresco dining being allowed in London and I hope this continues.
It’s great for the life and atmosphere of the city. People should be more tolerant of the weather and enjoy the experience of being in the open air and looking around them; often they spend too much time staring at their phones in a warm stuffy indoor space.
What is the best £20 you recently spent? What and why? (personal or professional)
My recent best £20 spend has to be the carrying papoose for Keith, our cat who is probably a familiar face to regular customers.
It certainly makes life easier and frees up my hands, and he gets a more comfortable thing to ride in.
What is your favourite quote?
"Talent will out, my dears!" - Freddie Mercury
Just like with talent that will always reveal itself, quality, authenticity and passion will show itself through the food and drinks you serve.
You can’t fake those sorts of things, and people will eventually find out what’s what, no matter how well it’s disguised.
What are some of your favourite places to eat at?
There’s a local Indian restaurant which has been in my neighbourhood for decades by the misleadingly boring name “Angel Curry Centre”, and of course Tenshi which is a Japanese izakaya-style restaurant, also in Angel.
Outside of the UK, I also love eating at seaside tavernas on my favourite Greek island, Kefalonia.
What's the best thing to order from Katsute 100?
All of our cakes are homemade, and we combine Japanese flavours like matcha and yuzu with traditional European styles as well as with what’s popular in Japan, so there’s something for everyone.
I’d recommend the Mont Blanc Tart, which isn’t too sweet and is a lovely dessert with the earthy taste of chestnuts, and also has a seasonal Sakura flavour out for a limited time. Both of them pair wonderfully with a matcha latte.
Another item I recommend is the beloved and popular Matcha Crepe Cake, which is made of wafer-thin layers of crepe with the rich taste of authentic Japanese matcha.
Are there any exciting plans coming from Katsute 100 soon?
We’re shortly due to open an East London branch, however, I can’t say too much about it at the moment. We’ll be making an announcement about it soon, so keep an eye out on our social media for more information!
Learn more about Eu Jing and Jisun, co-founders of Kini Patisserie next!