I really didn’t want to make such a page because I feel the service in Japan is excellent and that one is guaranteed a pleasant visit more than not when he is out and about. However, there are several establishments about which I felt the urge to recount my negative experience there. I know that while one person’s visit to one establishment may be exemplary, another’s to the same place might be unpleasant; unfortunately, I happened to experience the latter in the few places mentioned below. I personally wouldn’t recommend them to others much less go to them again but I don’t discourage others in going either and I hope that their experience is more pleasant than mine has been. Since I didn’t want to make a big deal about these establishments, I included them at the end of ❤Hitori Kyoto’s Recommendations❤ but I felt that these bad reviews were casting a shadow over my favorite cafes (places that treat all kinds of customers with the same courtesy and respect at all times) being on the same page, so I made this separate page…hopefully, I won’t have to add any more from now on.
Kyoto Shijo Eggs ‘n Things京都四条店: I try to go to private establishments when eating out in Kyoto but many Japanese TV shows have covered and raved about Hawaii-based Eggs ‘n Things, so I thought it would be nice to see what the hype was about since I’ve never been when I met Maki who had been to one in Hawaii. Actually I never got to dine here, because I got some rude treatment before even being let in: I arrived there at 11:30am on May 25, 2014, to check out the situation…we wouldn’t be seated until 3:30pm. Since Maki would arrive in about five minutes, I decided to stay put so we could go elsewhere for lunch and come back for dessert. However, one of the staff soon came over and told me that no matter how much I waited, I wouldn’t be let in until 3:30pm which kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I informed her that I’d promised to meet my friend at the restaurant and that she wouldn’t be long in coming to which the staff member told me quite tartly to go elsewhere to wait. There were other people outside with me at the time but they were left alone…of course, Maki came soon after and we left, so I couldn’t witness anyone else getting such rude treatment. I felt like such a fool wanting to go there when there are so many independent Kyoto cafes with awesome service and even tastier pancakes. I should have foreseen this when my co-worker’s mother-in-law had gone when they first opened and was rudely told to park her bicycle elsewhere to which she answered, “No worries, I’m never coming back again anyway.”
kotori cafe: I went here July 6, 2014, with Maki who had mentioned wanting to go before we agreed to meet…I remember trying to go there about two years ago when Margaret suggested dinner there but we hadn’t been able to find it, so I was curious about what it was like. When we got to the fifth floor of the ムーンビルMoon Bldg. (I liked the name☺), the door opened on to the entrance of the café of which I took a picture with my phone which makes a noise when doing so. Upon entering, I was met by the quietly-irritated owner whose first words to me were “Did you take a picture?” which was quite apparent from the sound my phone made, so of course I said I did to which she asked me not to take pictures…if she didn’t want people taking pictures, she should post a sign outside so people would know better like most cafes who feel this way do; how was I to know when that SMALL sign was INSIDE the café? Although Maki and I both felt bad at this welcome, we decided to stay for lunch anyway which we regretted later. Throughout our stay she never said a word to us, even when we paid for our meals. We both found the Japanese-style meal that we ordered to be nothing special but that opinion could have been prompted by the cold atmosphere that the owner created for us that affected our tastebuds, otherwise we would have thought about having dessert (I heard that the scones are good). She was polite to two hitori-samas (she seemed to favor people who came alone) but when a couple came in, she immediately disapproved of them sitting at seats along the wall to which the couple left in a huff at such rude treatment. The staff of huku cafe have also been to kotori cafe and they were treated cooly as well; they didn’t like it enough to go back either. It’s too bad, because the interior was pretty and I could see it being easy to relax in such a relatively quiet atmosphere but this goes to show that service is a big point in bringing customers back.
珈琲工房てらまちCoffee Kobo Teramachi: Sadly, I HAD written about this well-renown Kyoto coffee roaster and café in 三条商店街Sanjo Shopping Street last year in my blog (my first visit dates back to the end of 2010) but when Mason and I stopped by on September 28, 2014, for a coffee break, we were treated quite rudely: the older female staff who was waitressing threw us an irritated look when we entered before huffing away; since we weren’t being attended to, I looked to the owner who was at the front roasting some coffee beans and asked about seats on the first floor where I wanted to sit for the first time but he said the only available seats for two were on the second floor (where I’ve sat the two times I’ve been before). I was a little irritated at his attitude which seemed to insinuate that he couldn’t care less if we chose to stay or leave but we went up to the second floor anyway which was hot due to the air conditioner being off and probably the roasting downstairs. When the waitress finally came up to take our orders, she was tart with my question about the coffee and sullenly muttered “hai” to our orders before rushing off with our orders…this was the last straw and I didn’t want to experience again the regret I had from going to kotori cafe, so I told Mason I didn’t want to stay and pay for such rudeness and atmosphere to which she immediately obliged and we left before they got to our orders, throwing out a weak excuse about not having time to which the owner’s indifferent response was like “oh, yeah?”. I told another regular of huku cafe about my experience and apparently she was also treated just as rudely when she went there two years ago; she hasn’t been back since. Another example of rude staff totally ruining the image of their café.
Agréable: How ironic that the name of this pâtisserie/café means “pleasant” or “comfortable” in French, because that’s exactly the opposite of how I was made to feel. My first visit there in late April 2014 had been pleasant enough that I decided to drop in at last-minute after having lunch at 鳥の木珈琲Tori no Ki Coffee close by on the same street, 夷川通Ebisugawa Street in late December of the same year. Although I still had a undrunk café au lait to go in my hand, I thought I might be allowed to take it in while I had a cake as long as I wasn’t planning to drink it and was planning to have one of the cafe’s drinks; that has been the situation at most establishments in the past. I even asked the the floor staff, the pâtissier owner’s wife, who said it was okay for me to bring it in when I inquired about it. Although I seemed to have permission to enter with the drink, little by little she treated me like I was a nuisance from when she asked me if I was going to eat in until I paid. Although I was planning to order a drink with a cake, she irritatedly told me not to bother and to just have water or the drink that I had brought in! This is when I started to feel something was wrong. She brought me a small glass of water only half full and no wet napkin, rare for an establishment like that; although the showcase was full of cakes and there were no other customers the time I was there, I was only allowed to choose from three cakes. She curtly told me to hide my drink so that no one can see I had a drink from elsewhere although she told me I could have it with my cake; the only place that it couldn’t be seen was on the floor, so that’s where I kept it. Wanting to leave as quickly as possible, I silently and quickly ate my cake in the cold atmosphere; during that short time she intentionally banged around the front, opening things and shutting them (in other establishments I’ve been, the staff have been so careful not to make noise in front of the customers), looking back at me warily every so often as if to see if I wasn’t causing any more trouble than I already had. To my dismay my to-go coffee cup leaked some on the floor (I’ve never had this happen before and what bad timing!) as I headed to the register to pay, and she shouted, “What are you doing?! You need to take that out now!” I was so shocked I didn’t speak or move for several seconds. “But I haven’t paid yet,” I said. She practically threw a paper towel at me and told me to put my cup on the table I had occupied. I paid with an unhappy face and without a word left the place with my coffee cup. Apparently, she was unhappy about me bringing in an outside drink and didn’t have the courage to tell me not to bring it in but was brave enough to show she was irritated during my whole short stay; if she would have been straight with me from the beginning, I would have been more than happy to leave to come back another time…now, never again. This is definitely the worst I’ve ever been treated in Japan where I’ve experience great hospitality and service! I hope no one will have to go through such a traumatizing experience, not when there are so many great Kyoto establishments. I would like to also mention that my friend has also had an unpleasant experience there when she went with her friend (they were made to feel like they didn’t belong there and ended up leaving before ordering anything, never to go back), not mention several unfavorable reviews in Japanese that I’ve managed to see dealing with the “not agréable” attitude of the wife.
自家焙煎 玉田珈琲専門店Ota Coffee: Although there are quite a few nice establishments along 夷川通Ebisugawa Street like 鳥の木珈琲Tori no Ki Coffee and ひつじHitsuji, places like Agréable above and this shop is giving the street a bad image, at least in my opinion. I first noticed this place when I first went to Restaurant blanc pierre with Maki and had been curious about the place. When Hasegawa-san told me that the coffee was really strong on our way home after dinner in late April 2015, I thought I’d see for myself (because I like dark-roasted coffee), so the next day when I met Mason, I suggested going to which she agreed. When we went in, the owner greeted us normally but when he realized we were non-Japanese, I noticed his attitude change: he told us in brisk, rough English that he serves ONLY coffee, no sweets…of course I knew that before coming and was offended that he treated us like sweets-seeking girls who visited cafes who couldn’t handle real coffee, yet we still ended up staying. I asked politely if I could take pictures of the inside of the shop in Japanese and he obliged but not too long after we sat down at the counter to one side away from everyone else, he changed his mind and told me that I can’t take pictures because there were other customers around; even parts of the shop where customers wouldn’t be pictured was disallowed…why didn’t he just say so from the beginning? When he finally served us our coffee prepared Nel-style, I was allowed to take a picture of the coffee (um, thanks, guy). We ended up staying almost two hours because that’s how long it took to drink the coffee because it was SOOO strong; frankly I felt my mouth, throat and stomach had been raped from ingesting it…Mason was uncomfortable asking for milk because it looked like he didn’t like us much. Before I could finish my coffee, he came over and was like “So are you ready to leave yet?” after telling customers who had just entered to wait one moment. Without a word I downed the rest of the mud and we paid and left…needless to say, we both had a bad aftertaste in our mouth due to bitter coffee and service.