Sentido is a small café with the concept of “café terrace” off 烏丸Karasuma on 東洞院Higashitoin. I used to frequent the area a lot about six, seven years ago, back then the place was a small bar. It has been recommended to me by three people: 1) 969★Café’s owner, 2) a former student, now a friend, of mine, Watanabe-kun, who is training to own his own coffee shop someday and 3) Katalin, a Hungarian friend (we were regulars of the café of the owner above). I also read in one of my café books that they use beans from カフェタイムCafe Time, a well-known coffee roaster of coffee beans from all over the world, and an espresso machine of which only a few exist in Japan; not only that, but one can eat and drink good coffee at very reasonable prices…there was no reason to resist going.
I finally made it over there after work early last month…I chose a seat by the front window…goods for sale, including the café’s original blend, are near the entrance.
The register and food display case was right in front of me…by the time that I went, there was little in the display case, though.
I had to order and pay before getting my order. I had an アイスアメリカーノice Americano, ￥330 for the M size, and the バナナブレッドbanana bread, ￥280.
My Americano was quite fruity and easy to drink; I regretted not ordering an L size. The banana bread was nicely toasted and I was supplied with just the right amount of butter. The simple interior and soft BGM was relaxing, the perfect atmosphere to get caught up from a busy work week. This café was starting to grow on me every minute that I was there.
A barista from another country (I gauged from their conversation that maybe she was from Taiwan) and who seemed to be on a tour of coffee shops in Kyoto came in and talked with the owner who spoke English quite well. Even more of a reason to recommend this place to English-speaking visitors. ☺
I went back again two weeks later hoping to relax with a good coffee and get some work done. I sat in the same area that I did last time but this time, I ordered an エスプレッソスムージーespresso smoothie, ￥550.
Even people who don’t like coffee would love this drink…sweet and creamy, a dessert and drink in one.
Before I went, I got an M-size ice Americano to go…isn’t the design cute (can you see the design spells out the name of the café?)? ☺
This time I introduced myself and talked to the owner, Itsumi-san, who is, although on the reserved side, quite sweet and talkative! We talked about the people that we both knew (she knew Watanabe-kun from when he worked at Cafe Time and the 969★ master and Katalin because they came as customers before). She even gave me a hint on how to remember her name: “itsu-mi” which sounds like “it’s me!”…how adorable! ☺
I went again a week later to get an ice Americano for my walk to Kyoto Station; looks like Sentido is becoming a habit! ☺
Update: Less than a week later, I had some time before work to get lunch, so I got myself to Sentido, in the pouring rain, to finally try the 牛スジ(煮込み)プレートgyuu-suji (nikomi) pureeto (sinewy beef (stew) plate), ￥980; although the place was packed, I was able to procure the only seat available by the front window. I expected my order to be long in coming but it came quite quickly.
The plate came with the beef stew over rice and mashed potatoes accompanied with a ミニサラダmini sarada (small salad) and 自家製ピクルスjikasei pikurusu (homemade pickles); for dessert there was 自家製コーヒーゼリーjikasei koohii zerii (homemade coffee jelly).
The meal was just perfect! The stew was a wonderful mix of Japanese and Western taste, better set off by the Japanese rice and the Western-style mashed potatoes (anyone who knows me knows how much I LOVE mashed potatoes!); the meat was soft and practically melted in my mouth. And the salad was topped with avocado (I LOVE avocado!), quite rare for salads that go with meals in Japan. The pickles were not too sour and quite crunchy, easy to eat even alone. And the coffee jelly was more latte-flavored, sitting on a pool of honey (I LOVE honey!) to give the already-yummy jelly more appeal. I felt like this plate of food was made exactly to my liking…haha, it’s been a while since I raved about what I’ve eaten. ☺
There was a constant flow of customers to keep the staff busy the time that I was there. It seems that the sandwiches are quite popular but unfortunately they were pretty much sold out before I got there and some customers who came afterward were quite disappointed…I’ll have to try one of these sought-after sandwiches sometime, and have a blueberry muffin which I would have liked to try if I had more time…but work was calling and during a lull, I told Itsumi the short version of my raving above before heading out to trudge in the continuously pouring rain to work.
Update: About two months later, Katalin and I made plans to meet at Sentido after work. It had started to lightly rain by the time that I arrived at Sentido…I’m starting to think that Sentido and rainy days go together, actually a romantic combination in my opinion☺…anyway, I arrived first and since most of the seats were open and it was getting closer to closing time, I thought it would be okay to take up the four-seater in the area closer to the book rack.
a better view of the counter area than the tables by the window
I got to ordering a サンドセットsando setto (sandwich set), ￥950, that was my dinner for the day…you can choose from a sandwich wrap or a panini sandwich, both of which looked delicious, but since it looked like there was only one (vegetarian) panini sandwich left, I left it for Katalin in case she was wanting to eat (besides, the wrap had chicken in it and I’m a sucker for food with chicken). It came with dressing for the sandwich, a salad, soup and a drink; I got an ice Americano made from the beans of the day, from Kenya for an additional ￥50.
Katalin joined me halfway through my meal. We got to know another jouren, Sumika, who spoke English quite well from a year spent in England about ten years ago as well as one of the staff, Kei, who also spoke English pretty well (she also works part-time at Flip up!).
As I was finishing up my meal, I noticed there were whole grain blueberry muffins, ￥380, fresh out of the oven, so I took the liberty to order one (picture of example below). Healthy and just enough to satisfy my craving for something sweet, it was the perfect dessert to finish my stay at Sentido. I also got a coffee to go but I ended up finishing it before I left due to last-minute chatting with Katalin.
Update: Almost two months later, I suggested Sentido and huku cafe as good places for studying to Mason before she headed to the Sanjo Kawaramachi area for a get-together in the evening and she ended up choosing Sentido…I met her there after getting off work.
With the weather getting colder, I crave hot drinks now, so I got a カプチーノcappuccino, ￥500, and the blueberry muffin that I’d had before. I totally missed the パンプキンシードブラウニーpumpkin-seed brownies, ￥210, in the display case; a month ago when I had gone to get a coffee to go, Itsumi-san had mentioned that she was working on a recipe for brownies…Mason, who had gotten some with her Americano, pointed them out to me, so I went back to the register and bought some; they were individually wrapped, easy to take home in case I was too full from the cappuccino and muffin (which I was).
The cappuccino made with the café’s special blend of beans appeared to have a creamier flavor than most that I’ve had, the ideal taste with which to unwind after an afternoon of work. I refrigerated the brownies when I got home and had them the next day: they had more of a texture of gâteau au chocolat and were less sweet than the Western kind but still satisfying with the pumpkin seeds being nice accents…even the brownies seem healthy at Sentido! ☺
Update: I dropped by Sentido over a month later after lunch at huku cafe to get a coffee and the blueberry muffin to go. Inside, it looked like I had just missed the lunch rush and much of the food in the display case was gone, including any muffin to my disappointment. I got a シングルカフェラテsingle caffè latte, ￥400, made from 本日のコーヒー：モカ・シダモhonjitsu no kohhii: Moka Shidamo (today’s coffee: Mocha Sidamo) beans from エチオピアEthiopia. As always with Sentido’s coffee, it was easy to drink and tasted rich and wholesome as if made with soy milk…it was easy to get through work for the rest of the day with such a drink.☺
Update: Although I’d been to Sentido a couple of times since the last time that I update this post, over three months later, I dropped by in the evening before work to grab a ミックスベリースムージーmixed-berry smoothie, ￥630, to go but ended up leaving with a スモークサーモン・クリームチーズ・ルッコラのハーフサンドsmoked-salmon, cream-cheese & rucola half-sandwich and pumpkin-seed brownies. The smoothie was a pleasant mix of sweet and sour. With the ingredients stated in the sandwich’s name, it goes without saying that it was delicious. And the brownies, they just keep getting better and better.
Update: A month later, I went to Sentido after work with the intention of having one of the sundaes available for the summer; of course before that, I had to have some dinner, so I ordered the スープセットsoup set without a drink for ￥680…the soup that day was 玉ねぎのクリームスープtamanegi no kuriimu suupu (onion cream soup) and I had the cold version because it was such a hot day. The soup was light and perfectly flavored, a refined taste; together with some toasted yummy bread (from Wälder) and salad, it’s ideal as a light meal which was exactly what I was in the mood for since I was going to have the coffee パフェparfait, or sundae, ￥780. Consisting of two kinds of coffee jelly, cake and cream and topped with nuts, chocolate chips and ice cream, it’s a coffee lover with a sweet tooth’s dream on such a hot day…the mix of so many different textures make it an exciting dessert. There’s also a granola version which I plan to have in the near future.☺
Update: A week later, I was back to have the granola パーフェpahfe (sundae), same price as the coffee one. Ryo was there working on something on his computer, so this time we didn’t talk much (we did talk more at huku cafe where we ended up later). Kei-san said that it would take a while, so I also ordered a キノコのクリーミィスープ(小)kinoko no kuriimii suupu (shou) (small creamy mushroom soup), ￥320, to tide me over; with a rich color, I definitely recommend it for mushroom lovers. The coffee sundae was excellent but I rather like the granola one more…with two layers of granola, a layer of yogurt ice cream and a layer of banana bread topped with fruit and apricot jam, this refreshing sundae was a wonderful way wind down after work. So wholesomely delicious that I can’t wait to have it again!☺
Update: Almost two weeks later, I was back to have the beef stew plate (as delicious and filling as the last time I had it) for lunch before heading into work.; for dessert, I got an espresso smoothie to go. While I was waiting for my orde, I checked out the café for new possible shots (for me) of the place…that’s when the increase in the menu boards outside, making it more enticing for passersby, locals and visitors alike, to go in, caught my eye and inspired me to take a shot.
Update: Almost two months later, I dropped by Sentido to have lunch; since both the two-seaters in the back and the one against the wall in the front were occupied, I took the two-seater nearest to the entrance…pretty soon, the place filled with lunch-rush customers.
Fumie-san told me there was a new stew, so I ordered it, パプリカシチューpapurika shichuu (bell-pepper stew), ￥780, which I got with a カフェラテcaffè latte using the cafe’s original blend for ￥300 more. The stew was more flavorful (“SPICE!” came to mind as I ate it) than I’d expected and went well with the bread that I ordered (rice is another option).
Although I was quite full, I ended up ordering the サツマイモとリンゴの温かいデザートプレートsatsumaimo to ringo no atatakai dezahto purehto (warm sweet-potato & apple dessert plate), ￥680…warm cinnamon-flavored apples topped with a Florentine biscuit and rich, yummy ice cream that I swear had a cream-cheese base on a bed of mashed sweet potato, if one likes these ingredients, one’ll definitely want this dessert to warm up this season.
Update: Over three months later, I went to Sentido for genial collaboration event of former huku cafe’s green curry and salad bowl with organic vegetables from つくだ農園Tsukuda Plantation for ￥980 and Sentido’s coffee…I arrived 30 minutes before the 11:00am open time but Itsumi-san let me in and I chose the two-seater in the middle in the back. A Sentido part-time staff member and Fumie-san were getting ready in the kitchen but Fumie-san came out to greet and chat with me a bit. I ordered a caffè latte using the cafe’s original blend first, ￥300 with the curry I’d order later at 11:00.
I’ve had Sentido’s latte several times before, so it goes without saying that it’s a great drink. I about teared up while eating the salad and curry…gosh, how I miss huku cafe fare! Hasegawa-san came around open with her friend, Yamamoto-san, and Chieko-san arrived not too long after with a 先輩senpai (senior) friend from her former workplace. Ryo and Haruna came, too, and I ended up sitting in between them and Chieko-san and company while Hasegawa-san and Yamamoto-san sat at the front…I felt like I was reliving the huku cafe days again.
Everyone ended up leaving before me since I stayed until I had to go in for my part-time job which I started recently and temporarily; this gave me a chance to order another latte and huku cafe’s oatmeal-raisin cookies, ￥150.☺
Other goodness I’ve had:
* large caffè latte, ￥600
Address: 京都市中京区笹屋町445 日宝烏丸ビル1F Kyoto-shi. Nakakyo-ku. Sasaya-cho 445. Nippo Karasuma Bldg. 1F
Telephone number: 075-741-7439
Access: 地下鉄烏丸御池駅の3番出口から徒歩約1分 one-minute walk from Subway Karasuma Oike Station…no parking available.
Business Hours: weekdays- 7:30am~7:00pm, weekend- 8:00am~7:00pm (take-out available)
Café Holiday: Sunday
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sentido-%E3%82%BB%E3%83%B3%E3%83%86%E3%82%A3%E3%83%BC%E3%83%89/336791476368011?id=336791476368011&sk=info#!/pages/Sentido-%E3%82%BB%E3%83%B3%E3%83%86%E3%82%A3%E3%83%BC%E3%83%89/336791476368011