On a rainy Wednesday in early April of this year, I wanted to go to a café not too far from a train station, considering that I was hungry from having woken up late; 喫茶 雨林舎Kissa Urinsha came across as a good option. It seemed easy to get to from JR 二条駅Nijo Station but with my houkou-onchi ways I prepared myself to get lost. However, it turned out to be exactly where the map said that it would be and I arrived in no time. My machiya-loving self was overjoyed at the sight of it.
At first I chose the open two-seater table near the entrance. Behind me were the stairs up to the second floor which is open only when someone is showcasing their work or for whatever it is being rented out.
What a novel way to hang the clock! The daily menu is written on the blackboard on the wall next to the counter seating.
When the counter seat under the stairs opened up, I moved there because I wanted a secluded place where I could comfortably be alone.
Cozy, just like being at home…most of the books are from the owner’s own collection.
As soon as I saw きょうのごはんkyou no gohan (today’s meal) was チキングリーンカレーchikin guriin karee (chicken green curry), ￥800, I immediately ordered it. There is only one meal of the day and when it’s gone, it’s gone. When it arrived, I was pleased that it also came with tofu (I had expected the salad at least). I thoroughly enjoyed my curry served with brown rice, a bonus for me; I hope that the next time that I go to have a meal, green curry will be an option again.
Content with the menu and the atmosphere and wanting to get a machiya café experience, I took the Ryans when Gillian and Barron came to visit Laurel in late June. We took over the corner of the big table near the glass doors that looked onto the patio.
Everyone just got drinks…I got the ティーソーダtea soda, ￥550,
The drinks did the job in cooling us off on this pretty toasty day, especially because the only way with which we could cool off at the café was the natural breeze coming in through the open windows and doors. I think that everyone was as pleased with the atmosphere as I was.
About a week later, I went there with Kim-Chi because it’s a good place to grab a little bite to eat…I finally had the はちみつトーストhachimitsu toosuto (honey toast), ￥450.
I was highly satisfied with my order based on some great homemade multigrain bread made from natural yeast. My toast was topped generously with honey and toasted perfectly. And I appreciated it being cut into pieces, easy for eating.
Craving the honey toast again, I made my way to Urinsha yesterday for lunch. When I arrived, there were two customers there, one of with whom the owner was on friendly terms, at the counter.
I’ve thought so before but the owner is calm and expressionless, almost gruff, when dealing with non-jouren guests; in a good mood one can see it as charming like I did today. Guess it’s that way anywhere, though, not just the way in most service establishments in Kyoto where treatment of certain, long-standing guests are more favorable. Makes me want to try to get on her more amicable side.
Did I say that I went to get the honey toast? I meant that ORIGINALLY I went to get the honey toast and ended up changing my order to the アボカドトーストavocado toast, ￥650, that I had seen in one of my books. At first the owner only brought me the lunch menu upon which there was no avocado toast to my dismay but when I tried ordering it, it went through, yay!
Same wonderful bread used to make honey toast, slices of avocado all over the top with yuzu-koshou (a condiment paste made from yuzu zest and chili peppers, one of my favorite condiments in Japan), a meal toast couldn’t get any better!
I finished my toast and tea soda before I could finish the books (no surprise), so I also ordered a ホットカフェオーレhot café au lait, ￥500.
By the time I had to leave, I thought that I could have the honey toast…I asked if I could take it to go and I was told calmly that there were no take-outs done at this café. Alright, I’ll just have to come back! Hopefully, she’ll remember me then and at least I’ll get a smile.
the remains of an old たい焼きtaiyaki (fish-shaped cake with sweet bean paste inside) mold serves as the door knob and a piece of wood with the café’s name carved into it outside
Update: Two weeks later after work, I went to get my toast craving satisfied. Unfortunately, my seat under the stairs was taken, so I sat the table in front of the stairs with a view of the street outside.
raindrops hanging from the ceiling
I got an アイスカフェオーレiced café au lait, ￥550, with the avocado toast; later in the evening I ordered my honey toast…my toast craving was definitely satiated.
Update: Five months after the last time that I went, I had the opportunity to go back to Urinsha when 969★(CRockstar) Café was closed from the afternoon and after walking from 五条通Gojo Street to 御池通Oike Street, from Oike to Nijo checking out cafes…I’d been craving avocado toast for awhile anyway and I thought that this time I could try their famous pancake, a recipe passed down to the owner from her mother.
I ended up choosing the seat under the staircase, my favorite place to sit because it affords privacy, when one is alone.
Sadly, they had run out of ingredients to make avocado toast (probably avocado), so I opted for 油みそトーストabura-miso toast, ￥570. Honestly, I only had an idea of what it would taste like since I know what miso tastes like and abura means “oil” or “fat”. When I got home later in the evening and looked up abura-miso, I learned that it is made with miso and pork belly and originates from Okinawa. Anyway, the toast was a great eating experience and I would have it again although I’d prefer a little less miso (it was kind of heavy and pretty salty) and more of the cheese with which it was topped.
Since the toast is pretty filling, I just had one ホットケーキhotcake, ￥300, which came with honey that I sparingly dribbled over the pancake.
I could see why it was so famous: it tasted close to pancakes that I had in the States yet maintained the flavor and texture of that in Japan…either way it was natsukashii. I’d love to have it again, maybe two next time!
Update: Almost four months later, I got a sudden craving for Urinsha, so I went for lunch before heading into work. My favorite seat (under the stairs) was open, yes! I was hoping that the daily meal would be green curry…it WAS curry but not green; I ordered it anyway: 赤レンズ豆のカレー・玄米・サラダ・カボチャのスパイスだしの煮・鶏肉の塩麹やきaka renzu-mame no karee, genmai, sarada, kabocha no supaisu dashi no ni & tori-niku no shio-kouji yaki (red lentil curry with brown rice, salad, spicy stewed pumpkin and grilled shio-kouji chicken, ￥800. Although I was pretty full upon finishing my tasty yet healthy meal, I ordered honey toast and a tea soda, both of which I like so much and hadn’t had for a while, to keep me company while I went through a couple of books there…just the type of relaxation I needed before going to work
Update: About a year and two months later, I chose Urinsha to have lunch before accompanying Mason to shop for her new abode close by…Mason agreed to meet me there and I took to ordering the daily meal of 塩豚とひよこ豆の玄米まぜごはんshio-buta to hiyoko-mame no genmai maze-gohan (salted pork & chick-pea-mixed brown rice).
This rice was absolutely tasty, flavored with spices that reminded me of Japanese, Korean, Indian and Southeast Asian cuisine all at once; the lotus root slices that accompanied the rice were delicious alone as well as with the rice.
Mason came while I was in the middle of my meal and ordered just a drink since she had lunch before meeting me. The place was bustling with customers the time we were there and since no private tables were available when I had arrived, I had taken a seat at the big table. The owner was manning the café alone today, so the (homemade) bread menu except for croque madame wasn’t available but I was fine since the meal had been so satisfying. I hope to go back soon for the yummy toast.
Address: 〒604-8414 京都府京都市中京区西ノ京小倉町Kyoto-fu. Kyoto-shi. Nakagyo-ku. Nishinokyo Ogura-cho 22-12
Telephone/Fax number: 075-822-6281
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Access: JR 嵯峨野線 / 地下鉄 東西線 二条駅より徒歩 5分minutes by foot from JR Sagano Line/Subway Tozai Line Nijo Station or 阪急京都線 大宮駅（１番出口）より徒歩 20分minutes by foot from Hankyu Kyoto Line Omiya Station (Exit 1)
Business hours: 12:00-8:00pm (L.O. 7:30)
Café holiday: Monday & Tuesday