Having been in Japan for a long time, I get cravings for food that I used to enjoy in the States. And since I don’t really cook for myself, I opt to find restaurants that will do American for me, although it’s difficult to get anything truly authentic. About six years ago, I came upon a very pop-looking Very Berry Cafe on 御幸町通Gokomachi Street and it didn’t take me much convincing to go in, especially after glancing at the expansive menu and seeing their smoothie selection (it could rival any place back in the States). If my memory serves me correctly, I had a satisfying bagel sandwich that came with thickly sliced potato chips and a salad and a berry smoothie of sorts. I left knowing that I’d be going again. Sometime after that, while heading north on 河原町通Kawaramachi Street one day, I came across another Very Berry Cafe, this time in a machiya. I found the contrast of the American décor and the machiya really interesting and was drawn inside. I remember choosing a table with a tatami bench on one side in the back room which looked out into a small Japanese garden full of items, including a surfboard, that remind one of Hawaii or the States and just loving the interior. Needless to say, I became a fan quickly, especially of the 河原町二条Kawaramachi-Nijo café (I love machiya!). Besides the Gokomachi café and the Nijo café, there is another one (the original one) on 北白川通Kita-Shirakawa Street more north but I haven’t been to that one yet…one day…
Very Berry Café is an American-style café with some Hawaiian roots. The owner loves Hawaii (since his younger years) so much that he goes at least once or twice a year. At the Nijo café, Star Wars paraphernalia (he and his son are big fans) as well as other character goods are placed all around the establishment. The interior is prone to change, depending on the owner’s whim. There are a couple of TVs with American movies or animation playing; in the garden at night movies and animation are played on a big white surface that serves as a screen. In the hallway between the kitchen and the restrooms are books and magazines for the customers to pass the time until the food arrives (depending on how busy the place is, it may take time).
the back room (May 2010)
one side of the garden (at night a DVD is usually shown on the white screen to the right) (Dec 2011)
The food menu includes everything from burgers to sandwiches to rice dishes and pancakes/waffles to sundaes to cakes and cookies; there’s a night menu that provides meat dishes and pizza as well. The drink menu has coffee (made from Lion Coffee), teas, juices, smoothies, shakes, even alcohol. Be prepared for portions similar to that found in the States; in this way Very Berry is more like a restaurant than a café. I know that every time I go to the Very Berry Café, I’m guaranteed good, filling food and a relaxing atmosphere; it’s one of the places where I feel most at home. Although I’ve now come to order certain things when I go, I still take a long time to pore over the many pages in the regular menu and the menu of the day, sometimes being convinced otherwise…here are some food and drinks that my company and I have had:
waffles and mango juice that I shared with Mr. Man (April 2007)
my brownie when the owner’s wife and I met to chat (Dec 2010)
my Christmas shortcake (ice cream on the house) when Kim-Chi and I had lunch one day (Dec 2010)
green tea mont blanc with the owner’s wife and kids (Jan 2011)
the owner’s wife’s caramel mocha & my honey mocha (in extra large cups on the house) while chatting (Jan 2011)
my favorite, and basically my usual order, chicken poke loco moco, when Laurel and I met up before church (Dec 2011)
Update: Seven months after I had the steamed red velvet cake, I was craving Very Berry’s chicken poke loco moco, so I stopped in for lunch before work.
the view of the middle dining area from my seat (love skateboard-wheel doorknob!)
Although I had intended to get my usual, my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to try the 本日のごはんランチhonjitsu no gohan ranchi (today’s rice lunch): 豚肉のポケロコモコbuta-niku no poke roko moko (pork poke loco moco) which came with a drink (I got mango juice) for ￥950.
The sauce isn’t as spicy as that of the chicken poke loco moco but other than that it was good as my usual (the rice was on the hard side, yay!). The salad was made with mostly mizuna, my favorite, and ranch dressing (yum!). Catching up with the owner’s wife was unexpected but well-enjoyed…I need to go more often!☺
Update: Nine months later…this time I got to catch up with the owner’s wife and meet my former student who is now an elementary schooler! The more that I get to know them, the more that I realize how lucky that I am to know them: they are such good and inspiring people.
I had my usual (chicken poke loco moco) and they gave me coffee on the house…the chocolate cake in the display case at the entrance was too tempting, so I gave in and ordered one (with all the chatting that we did, I worked up an appetite anyway).
They closed up the café early, before I could pay for my food. Gosh, I owe these people so much!
Update: Three months after the last time I went, Very Berry announced new pancakes on their Facebook page and that very week I was there around dinner time to have my usual (chicken poke loco moco) with ice berry garden tea finishing off my visit with one of the new pancakes.
ベルベットパンケーキ(red-) velvet pancakes, ￥1200
Topped with grilled apple slices, cream cheese frosting and cinnamon (whipped cream is also included but I asked for it to be made without), it was absolutely delicious and cured my ever-continuing craving for red velvet. I should have known by the price that I would get a lot (well, at least for Japan) but I was still surprised. I ended up eating only a third plus the apple slices but I got to take the rest home and it was a very filling snack later. Hope it’s going to be a permanent option on the menu!
Update: Five months later, I went to the Kawaramachi-Nijo café to have the new stuffed pancakes (well, it was about two months since they announced it) but to my dismay the café was closing early for the day! While I talked to Master, I found that one of the cookie jars at the front held red velvet cookies…of course I had to get one!
A female customer who also didn’t know they were closing early also made do with some cakes to go…I was told to wait in the café while Master got her order at which I took the liberty to check out the front dining area where I rarely sit. Where the Simpsons pinball machine used to be is now a booth with table seating and different seating in the front room now made the place look more homey.
ココナッツベルベットココアkokonattsu berubetto kokoa (coconut red-velvet cookie), ￥263
I didn’t realize that I had gotten a (big) free cookie until I got to the Gokomachi Very Berry Café! Oh, my gosh, I’m always floored by Master’s kindness! It goes without saying that the cookies were both delicious.☺
Update: About half a year later, I finally made it to the Kawaramachi-Nijo cafe to have my usual and an acai bowl…the cafe and its acai bowl was covered on the August 28 airing of Kansai morning television show, よ～いドン！Yo-o-i Don!, in the corner called “プロが教えるとっておき 本日のオススメ3Puro ga Oshieru Totte-oki Honjitsu no O-susume 3 (Today’s Top 3 Recommendations from Professionals)”. I was able to record and watch it, that’s why I could tell them to serve the ベリーズビーチアサイボール”Berries Beach” acai bowl to me without vanilla ice cream. The chocolate chips were a nice touch and it was just the dessert to have on such a warm day…I’m definitely coming back for another bowl.☺
Other dishes that I’ve had:
* fried chicken with creamy teriyaki sauce on the side (usually it comes over the chicken)
Address: 京都市中京区河原町通二条上ル清水町368 Kyoto-shi. Nakakyo-ku. Kawaramachi-dori. Nijo-agaru. Shimizu-cho 368
Telephone number: 075-231-5002
Access: 地下鉄東西線京都市役所前駅から徒歩約5分 about five-minute walk from Subway Tozai Line Kyoto Shiyakusho Mae, 京阪三条から徒歩約10分 about ten-minute walk from Keihan Sanjo Station…no parking available but there are several car parks nearby.
Business Hours: 11:30~12:00am (last order until 11:30pm, take-out available)
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/VeryBerryCafe