After seeing 喫茶葦島Kissa Ashijima in my café books, I made a mental note to go there sometime, especially because it’s located in the commercial area of Kyoto at the intersection of 三条河原町Sanjo Kawaramachi. Unfortunately, I always had the craving to go on Monday which is the café’s holiday but I finally went one day in mid-October last year before going into work. The weekday opening hour is later than most places but you’ll see why it’s appropriate soon.
the sign next to the elevator up
When the elevator door opened, I stepped right into the café to my surprise.
the area near the elevator
the view from the entrance into the café…my impression of the café: posh (from the interior and uniform of the staff) and relaxed (from the comfortable chairs)
The lighting on the sides were pretty much all the artificial light we had during the day, creating an intimate atmosphere.
I took some time to look through the menu but I finally decided on the 葦島ブレンドAshijima burendo (Ashijima-blend coffee), ￥500, and the ミルクショコラmiruku shokora (milk chocolat), ￥400, which was discounted ￥100 with my coffee; both of my choices are recommended in my café book.
I tried the coffee black first before adding milk after I finished my cake (my drinks usually last longer than my food); the flavor was mild like the book said and went very well with the cake which was like exquisite fudge.
Serving only coffee and cakes, it is a great place for afternoon coffee after lunch, that’s why I can understand the late opening hour. Although the atmosphere seems better suited for mesdames et messieurs, a casually-dressed person as myself, as I was that day, also receives the royal treatment. Besides the murmuring of the customers among themselves or with the staff, it was quiet, perfect for reading a book or just thinking, definitely an ideal place for any hitori-sama. When I left, I was escorted to the elevator by a waiter who waited with me until it came and proceeded to bow until the door closed and I was out of sight…excellent service, may I say?☺
Update: Over three years later, I suggested Ashijima to Jennifer for coffee when in Kyoto and she agreed to try it. When we arrived on the fifth floor, the place was packed! Luckily there a table close to the entrance area opened up soon. I ordered a 百年珈琲hyaku-nen (100-year) coffee, ￥750, and a piece of 生キャラメルnama (soft & creamy) caramel, ￥100, while Jennifer just got an アイスカフェオレiced café au lait, ￥700, since we’d had coffee at kiln cafe right before going. My coffee was aromatic and had an extravagant deep flavor which the caramel enhanced well. Jennifer seemed satisfied with her café au lait.
There were people waiting after we were seated, so we stayed only as long as we had coffee left before leaving; it was time to call it a day anyway.