Formerly the dwelling of product designer, Shin Nishihori, efish is a café along the Kamo River close to Gojo Ohashi (Big Bridge). One can find his freelance products on sale or as part of the décor there. The café has a clean and modern feel to it, probably due to its neutral base and the use of colors with impact to set it off, despite the owner’s penchant for antique and vintage. The first thing that enters one’s eye is the cute sign with the café’s logo and the open terrace.
wall of goods
the smoking area near the entrance
This side provides a view of the river.
Poring over the menu when I went for the first time in April, my eyes caught the words, “ツナとカテージチーズとアボカドサンドtsuna to kateeji chiizu to abokado sando (tuna & cottage cheese & avocado sandwich)”; it was love at first sight and that’s what I got as the sandwich for my サンドイッチとカップスープ セットsandowicchi to kappu suupu setto (sandwich & cup soup set), ￥1200 (I chose クラムチャウダーkuramu chaudaa (clam chowder) for my soup).
Very messy (the tuna and cottage cheese kept tumbling out) but delicious and very filling. I didn’t think that I could have dessert but I did want a drink, so I got a ホットカフェラッテhotto kafe latte (hot caffè latte), ￥600.
By the time I went for the third time this past week, I figured that I didn’t need the soup, so I just got the sandwich, ￥900. But walking to the café all the way from Kyoto Station in the sun had made me hot, so I ordered a ブラッドオレンジとベリーの スムージーburaddo orenji to berii no sumujii (blood orange & berry smoothie).
I haven’t been on a cloudy or even rainy day but I’m sure that it’s a different type of pleasant spending time there. efish is definitely one of my favorite cafés in Kyoto.
Update: When I went in the evening the next week, the first floor was full! However, I was allowed up to the second floor where I chose the seat in the back that looked out on the river. I was hoping to see the river at night but I ended up leaving before dark (I figured that I actually have too much to do at home). But at least I had dinner. Of course I was in the mood for my usual sandwich (the only one of which I’ve put up a picture here). Surprisingly I had room for dessert, so I ordered a cake and coffee.
黒砂糖とクルミのケーキkurosato to kurumi no keeki (brown sugar and walnut cake), ￥530, and a エスプレッソesupruresso (single espresso), ￥450
It was delicious, one of the best cakes that I’ve had in Japan so far, and a bundt one at that (I don’t remember ever having had bundt cake here). The top part, where all the hardened brown sugar and walnuts were, was the best, made for great texture. I’ll be wanting some again the next time that I get to go. ☺
Update: When Laurel‘s siblings, Gillian and Barron, visited Japan, I chose efish as an appropriate choice for lunch, their last meal in Kyoto, maybe even in Japan. I love the tuna & cottage cheese & avocado sandwich so much that I’ve been unable to order any of the other oishi-sou (delicious-looking) dishes on the menu and of course that was my recommendation to which everyone succumbed without hesitation. The verdict: new fans of efish! Everyone loved the sandwich, AND the brown sugar and walnut cake which we all shared for dessert before rushing off to get Gillian and Barron on the Haruka, the airport express.
Update: I went with Laurel, Kim-Chi and Yui a month later; we were seated on the second floor next to the counter.
It had taken awhile for us to all meet up with Laurel leaving her phone at home, our only lifeline to Yui, and me contacting mutual friends to get Yui’s info before finding out she was running late…Kim-Chi decided to join us at last-minute despite all the packing and cleaning that she had left to do before leaving in a couple of weeks (Laurel was in the middle of the same process). And did I mention how hot and humid that it was? And the café was bustling as usual with customers when we got there. Finally seated, it’s no surprise that we wanted something cool to drink first.
I ordered the ブルーベリーとカシスレモネードソーダburuuberii to kashisu remoneedo sooda (blueberry & black currant lemonade soda), ￥700 (I’m a sucker for red or pink drinks).
Update: After accompanying Laurel and Kim-Chi to Kansai International Airport to send them home at the end of July, I came back to Kyoto in time to grab lunch before going to work…somewhere close to work with great food and atmosphere: efish.
フレッシュオレンジアールグレーアイスティーfuresshu orenji Aaru Guree aisu tii (fresh orange Earl Grey iced tea), ￥700
Due to the heat and humidity, not having gotten any sleep the night before and just feeling sad from losing another two good friends to distance and time difference, I could eat only one part of my sandwich; I had the rest wrapped up to eat later as dinner.
Simple yet cute packaging…the last time that I had this done, it was when Laurel and I couldn’t finish our sandwiches and sent the rest off with Gillian and Barron a little over a month before.
Update: I’m officially a jouren! ☺ A month later today, I walked in to have my usual and one of the waitresses who had served me several times remembered me. She saw how hot and flustered that I was from my 15-minute walk from Kyoto Station and offered me a seat on the second floor where it was air-conditioned (the first floor was not).
Update: About nine months later, I met Kimura-san at efish because not only had Kimura-san never been there but it was close to where I work (we wanted to meet as soon as possible after I finished work). We hadn’t seen each other for half a year due to conflicting schedules, so we had a lot of catching up to do!
my ホットマサラチャイhotto masara chai (hot masala chai), ￥600 (I also had the brown sugar and walnut cake)…not bad at all and I liked the cup that it was served in.☺
Update: Almost a year later (although I think I went there a couple of times before), I was back to have my usual sandwich & cup-soup set; the price of the set had risen ￥30 due to the rising of consumption tax in Japan over two months before but other than that, the only visible changes were that the menu had changed from one encased in plastic to a laminated one and the wares on sale on the first floor were a more simple yet tasteful selection; the blueberry & black currant lemonade soda was back but I didn’t feel like ordering it this time.
The last time, I’d forgotten to ask the staff to toast my sandwich lightly until last-minute and it came as well-toasted as always…my gums did not forgive me for making them go through that, which is why it took me four months to go back. I made the same mistake this time but luckily the sweet staff member who was in charge of toasting my sandwich did a great job (she said she liked her sandwich lightly toasted, too) and I had a fantastic sandwich experience that didn’t leave a mess of crumbs as it would have if I had opted for the usual toasting.
Update: Four months since the last time I wrote, I met Mason for lunch there. We both had my usual sandwich and the staff who waited upon us remembered to toast my bread lightly without me asking.☺
On our way out the same staff member gave us efish coasters in honor of their 15th anniversary (October 16, 2014); this service will be available for the anniversary week to those who consume more than ￥1000’s worth.
the display at the front…examples of the coasters being given away are on the table.