*Found in Former Kyoto Cafes
I just love book cafés because: 1) I don’t feel bad going alone to them, 2) I don’t feel rushed to leave (we’re allowed to read there which means we can take our sweet little time) and 3) there are no loud and obnoxious people there (usually).
When I found TRACTION book cafe in my café book in March of this year, how could I not be tempted to go? However, my first attempt to go a couple of weeks later ended in failure due to the mass amount of smoke pervading the café and greeting me when I opened the door after climbing to the third floor. Did I mention that I got lost a couple of times on 六角通Rokkaku Street looking for it (notice a pattern?)? Yeah, I wasn’t in the mood to relax in a smoking environment.
After another couple of weeks, I decided to try again; this time, there was less smoke, so I ended up staying. I sat in the corner of the counter seating where I had a view of Rokkaku Street outside. Besides the counter seating, there were tables (see the top left and center pictures). The wall close by had the name of the café and vivid illustration of shelves with knickknacks that I quite liked (see center right picture). A big bookshelf at the front is the first thing that one sees when entering and is said to hold more than 1000 books on any subject “in the hope that they can provide a chance for conversation” (according to the owner) (see top center and center picture for the bookshelf).
Although it was still early, I decided to have dinner anyway. No skimping on the drink and food menus; there is a wide variety of both, no different from any other café. The スモークサーモンとクリームチーズベーグルサンドウィッチsumooku saamon to kuriimu chiizu beeguru sandowicchi (smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel sandwich), ￥750, which came with a salad appealed to me the most; I also got a ホットカフェラッテhot caffè latte, ￥550 (see top right picture). It had been awhile since I had a bagel sandwich much less a salmon and cream cheese one, so I quite enjoyed it although it was hard to read while eating…I left my book-reading and record-keeping for the caffè latte which I sipped on luxuriously while reveling in the atmosphere of the café which allowed me to concentrate to my heart’s content. I was too full to have dessert but I hoped to be back sometime to try the muffins (unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to buy any to take home, eat-in only).
That day came over four months later in the middle of Kyoto’s hot and humid weather yesterday. I had walked from Kyoto Station to PETIT JAPONAIS because it’s in between 四条通Shijo Street and 五条通Gojo Street and I didn’t feel like spending money to go such a short distance but it wasn’t open; I’m beginning to wonder if I can ever get the timing right. I decided that this was a sign to go to TRACTION.
This time I noticed book jackets on the way up the stairs to the café, a change from last time (see center left picture). I got the table that I think has the best view of the café that I couldn’t get last time…I feel bad that I took up a four-seater by myself but that’s what’s cool about this place: not the amount of customers that they can bring in but how the customers want to enjoy their stay there, even if taking up a table all by her lonesome☺. This seat gave me a good view of the rest of the café, including the simple kitchen area in the back (see center picture).
One would think that a book café serves fast food easy to eat while immersed in reading but this place does “slow” food, even if there are only a couple of options for lunch…I got 今週のごはん：肉じゃがとチーズのオムレツkonshuu no gohan: niku-jaga to chiizu no omuretsu (this week’s TRACTION meal: omelette filled with meat & potato stew and cheese), ￥890, without rice (see bottom left picture)…it does look like something is missing, though, huh?☺It also came with barley tea, tofu in soy sauce topped with green onions and myoga (Japanese ginger), renkon in a mentaiko sauce, tsukemono, omelette and miso soup (the bottom center picture shows the inside of the omelette). The flavor of everything appealed to me…the bit of spiciness of the renkon dish, the light flavor of the soy sauce, the interesting flavor that came from niku-jaga in an omelette with cheese, I feel that I got a bit of every flavor possible.
Even without rice, I got pretty full. The reason that I asked for my meal without rice: I wanted to get the マフィンセットmuffin set, ￥880, which came with a drink (I chose アイスコーヒーiced coffee). The muffins today were アメリカンチェリーAmerican cherry and チョコナッツchocolate & nutserfect texture (baked well on the outside with a moist and soft inside), the muffins were exactly what I’d hoped for; sometimes it’s so hard to find a good muffin here. I expected the American cherry one to have cherry inside, too, but it was just on the top; nevertheless, it was yummy (I like that it had a flavor similar to cornbread, I just love cornbread)! The chocolate and nuts one was delicious, too. I left the place a bit too stuffed but was really happy that I could go today (especially because no customers smoked while I was there, clean air, yay!).
Update: I don’t know exactly when but I first noticed TRACTION was gone in August 2015. Despite allowing smoking, it was a very pleasant place to relax while having some nice eats alone…disappointed that it won’t be available anymore.😢