In early July I met Katalin for lunch during the midst of her packing before I headed into work…she suggested hygge and cafe Organ (“喫茶オルガンKissa Organ” in Japanese). Since I’d been interested in going to hygge for a while, we ended up going there first; besides, it was closer to 丹波口駅Tambaguchi Station where I made Katalin meet me so that we could go to our destination together…I didn’t want to get lost, which was quite likely, in this heat.☺
My meal and drink at hygge didn’t fill me up as I’d expected, so we decided to go to cafe Organ as well. Katalin happened upon this café, which opened in September of last year, because she lived nearby and went here quite often to get work done. She recommends the cake and coffee and says that the meals are good, too.
It would be easy to overlook the café: it looks just like the rest of the private houses around it in 中堂寺櫛笥町Chudoji Kushige-cho close to the intersection of 五条通Gojo Street and 壬生川通Mibugawa Street. I found it appealing upon sight: simple, clean and charming.
the view from the door…Katalin and I sat at the middle table.
the other side with the only big table in the place
the view of the front after sitting down…books and magazines to keep one entertained if needed. Katalin said that they are always changing items displayed at the window.
I liked this view of the only big table in the room.
Katalin decided to have 今日のおやつ：ブルーベリーとサワークリームのケーキkyou no o-yatsu: buruuberii to sawaa kuriimu no keeki (“today’s snack”: blueberry & sour cream cake), ￥350, with ホットコーヒーhotto koohii (hot coffee), ￥400.
Katalin recommended the チーズケーキchiizukeeki (cheesecake), ￥400, so that’s what I got with アイスコーヒーaisu koohii (iced coffee), ￥430.
(The cheesecake now comes in two sizes: S, or small, for ￥350 and L, or large, for ￥450.)
Later when I researched cafe Organ, I found that the café takes pride in good drip coffee (by the owner), hearty meals and simple desserts (by his wife). Katalin likes the coffee here (she’s a good source for excellent coffee in Kyoto) and I found myself agreeing with her: my ice coffee was easy to drink, even more so accompanied with the rich and smooth cheesecake!
The husband owner, Tomoaki Maeda, performs as the drummer of a band of about three years called ポントチョフPontochev that plays classic rock, mainly the Beatles…the name of the band comes from 先斗町Pontocho, an area in Kyoto that anyone would know and the members added “-chev” to give it a Russian feel.☺ Before opening their cafe, he rented a cafe space somewhere in Kyoto for a one-day cafe experience; since he hadn’t decided the name of the cafe at the time, a friend suggested calling it “Organ” (Maeda-san really does play the organ, too)…and that’s how the name of the cafe came about.☺
I know I’ll be at least coming back to try the meals and more desserts, hopefully, in the near future.☺
Update: At the end of July I went back to cafe Organ again after getting my hair cut and highlighted nearby to get my first meal of the day and get some catching up from the week done. All the tables were full but the young guy at the big table was kind enough to share half of it with me. Luckily, by the time I ordered, one of the parties had left, so I finally got some private space, no offense to the guy who shared his table with me whom I thanked before moving.
Out of the light meals available, I was drawn most to the オムレツとベーコンのサンドomuretsu to beekon no sando (omelette & bacon sandwich), ￥500, so that’s what I got with iced coffee.
The omelette was the perfect texture and the bacon was the perfect complement; it was exactly what I was looking for to quell my hunger.
I even had room for “today’s snack”, 抹茶のシフォンケーキmaccha no shifon keeki (green tea chiffon cake), ￥350, that everyone else around me had…the beautiful color was too tempting. The usually reserved owner thanked me enthusiastically which I found kind of funny and cute.☺
I was provided fresh cream and brown sugar syrup to go with the cake. It was the perfect dessert to finish my meal.
It was amusing how every so often we could hear the squeaking of bicycle brakes as passersby happened upon the café for the first time; I’m sure that everyone found it to be quaint yet cute, just like I did. I felt I could relax there all day…apparently the woman next to me felt the same way because she was there before I arrived and still there when I left. Before I left, I asked the owner’s wife who rang me up if they had received a postcard from 高知県Kochi Prefecture from Katalin during her travels in Japan for the month of July; I only knew because Katalin had asked me to look up the café’s mailing address for her…they had in fact received the postcard and were delighted that Katalin remembered them, especially that Master is from Kochi. I as well am thankful to Katalin for introducing such a great café to me.☺
Update: Seven months later, I finally went back to cafe Organ after it had been on my mind for about a week…I didn’t have the time that I had planned to relax in that cozy little place but I did have time to eat lunch and have dessert before heading into work.
When I got there, there was only one couple and it seems that another pair had been there by the looks of a table. I sat at the only table “appropriate” for a hitori-sama which was closest to the opening for the kitchen where the bench seating had changed to individual chairs (the bench was now at the only table for a large party).
I ordered the 週替わりごはん：蒸し豚と温野菜の香味だれshuu-gawari gohan: mushi buta to on-yasai no koumi-dare (the weekly meal: steamed pork & vegetables with spice sauce), ￥750, which came with a side of green-pepper & small-fish side and a lotus-root side as well as the usual salad, miso soup and rice.
Healthy and simple but definitely not lacking in flavor…just what I needed to get my day started (yes, lunch was my first meal of the day). The only thing that I didn’t finish was half the bowl of rice because I wanted to have room for “today’s snack”, レモンのパウンドケーキremon no paundo kehki (lemon pound cake), ￥350…I had ホットコーヒーhot coffee for an extra ￥200 with my meal.
The rich buttery flavor of the soft pound cake and the sweet tangy frosting with bits of lemon peel accompanied by a coffee easy to drink even on its own was the perfect way to end my visit.
Besides the sandwich above and the weekly meal, they also offer a hamburg plate and taco rice (a Japanese dish that originated in Okinawa).
Maybe they remembered me when I asked if Katalin had been by recently and I mentioned that I’d be updating my post on the café soon. Anyway, I need to make it a point to go there when I can.☺
Update: Over a month later I was back at cafe Organ for lunch…actually I had lunch there two weeks before, I just didn’t post about it. Although I had been afraid of all the seats being taken, I was the first customer. After briefly looking over the menu, I ordered the weekly meal, 大葉みそのチキングリルohba-miso no guriru (chicken grilled with oba (beefsteak plant)-miso); the sides were a green-pepper and small-fish side again and a cold sweet & sour vegetable stir-fry side…the wife owner remembered to give me less rice again☺). This meal was as wholesome and delicious as the last two I had…I think this meal is becoming a habit for me.☺
I also ordered a クッキーセットcookie set, ￥250, and coffee when I ordered my meal and it came almost immediately after I finished my meal (they are really attentive to the pace of the customer☺). The set comprises of キャラメルナッツクッキー・チョコレートとアーモンドのビスコッティ・ごまとオートミールの薄焼きビスケット・シナモンビスケットcaramel-nuts cookie, chocolate & almond biscotti, thin sesame & oatmeal biscuits and cinnamon biscuits. All dainty and homemade, they had just the right amount of sweetness and were the perfect choice for the already easy-to-drink coffee.
I’ve decided I just can’t go wrong choosing this adorable café for meals, sweets and coffee.☺
Update: Two weeks later, I went back to cafe Organ for lunch. There was only one party of two when I arrived; I chose the two-seater closest to the kitchen.
Of course I had the weekly meal of which the main dish was チキン南蛮chicken nanban, vinegared fried chicken with tartar sauce originating from 宮崎県Miyazaki Prefecture…the meal was yet again delicious and satisfying.
That still doesn’t stop me from ordering sweets here: “today’s snack” was カステラ風レモンケーキkasutera-fuu remon kehki (“sponge cake-like” lemon cake), ￥300, which I had with coffee; the yummy frosting reminded me of that of the lemon pound cake that I’ve had here before. I was ecstatic to get the cup with a simple and quirky butterfly design, the one that Katalin had when we first went (see above); the wife-owner said it was the only cup of this design at the cafe.
After I arrived, two more parties came in making all the tables occupied; it stayed that way for the time I was there…that’s why “today’s snack” changed halfway through my stay to 木いちごソースの蒸し焼きショコラki-ichigo sohsu no mushiyaki-shokora (steam-baked chocolate cake with raspberry sauce), ￥380…although I was pretty full, I couldn’t help ordering it (who knew when I could have this next?). I’m so happy I ordered it: sweet yet rich and moist, it was one of the best chocolate cakes that I’ve hade recently; paired with raspberry sauce, it was just delightful and irresistible in looks (I swear, the top of the cake was just sparkling!☺).
(FYI: The steam-baked chocolate cake is now on the regular menu at ￥400.)
I think the owners were amused (but pleased☺) that I had a meal AND two cakes. The husband-owner thanked me for my post on the café (yay, he’s been checking it out!) and told me that quite a few non-Japanese customers had been by…you can’t imagine how happy this news made me! Thanks to everyone who read about the café here and actually made it there❤! I can’t imagine anyone going away from cafe Organ without a full stomach and a warm heart.☺
Update: A week later I was back at Organ for lunch before work (looks like this is becoming a habit☺)…I was the first customer, so I chose to sit at the two-seater next to the window.
The weekly meal was 豚バラ肉の豆鼓醤炒めbuta bara-niku no tohchijan-itame (fermented-black-bean pork stir-fry); the two sides were potato salad and a mushroom & Japanese mustard-spinach concoction. This was my second time having this dish and it was as flavorful (tohchijan is a bit spicy) and delicious as before.
For dessert I had the smaller cheesecake (the large one I had before wasn’t available at the time), with coffee…it was as rich and smooth as I remembered it and gone before I knew it. That’s why I decided to get “today’s snack”, バナナケーキbanana cake, ￥350…the owners were amused again. Topped with walnut and crumble, it was moist yet firm and tasted wholesomely delicious…once again, I had no regrets in ordering the second cake.
Although I was told to take it easy being the only customer at the time, I had to tear myself away to get to work (by then the café was full of customers anyway)…another ideal café experience to start off my day.
Update: A month later, I went to Organ with Mason who has been wanting to go for a while after seeing pictures. I was afraid of the place being full when we arrived but there was a seat open for us.
We both ordered the weekly meal, 揚げ野菜と鶏の甘辛だれage-yasai to -tori no amakara dare (sweet & sour fried vegetables & chicken). Although a little heavier than most of the main dishes that have been served here, it was deliciously flavorful and went well with the rice…Mason seemed to enjoy it as well.
For dessert we both had the larger cheesecake and I got ミルクティーmilk tea, ￥430, as well. Small cookies (snowball and chocolate-chip coconut cookies), both delightful as well, accompanied my drink and although Mason didn’t order a drink, she got some, too. The only other time that I received these cookies was when I first came with Katalin, probably because Katalin was a faithful regular…guess this means I’ve made the list, too!☺
Update: Almost three weeks later, I went to Organ for lunch after getting off work. When I arrived there were two parties of two…only the middle two-seater was open and that I took.
Of course I ordered the weekly meal which was コロッケ、野菜のおかずkorokke, yasai no okazu (croquette & vegetable sides). I’m not a fan of croquette but the crispy breading was surprisingly light which made it easy to eat and didn’t give me a headache as most greasy foods do; the added plus was that besides minced meat and potato inside, there was also edamame.
I had put in an order for coffee and “today’s snack”, 抹茶のロールケーキmaccha no rohru kehki (green-tea Swiss roll), ￥350, which was brought to me immediately (my coffee came in my favorite cup☺). I’ll risk sounding pretentious but this cake was just divine: the owner-wife used plenty of green tea in both the moist cake and the fresh-cream filling making it quite rich despite being such a light cake. She said that she usually makes it on the weekend but I didn’t know because I usually come on a weekday; guess I’ll be making it a point to come on the weekends as well.
There were two Chinese couples (they appeared to be visitors to Japan) today making it quite a day for foreign customers, including me, at the café…I was curious about how they came to know of the café but I decided against bothering them.
Today, I stayed for most of the afternoon catching up on some things after being away from Japan for almost a week and when it came time for me to leave, I was the only customer; this provided a chance for me to really talk to the owners who are not only really kind but actually quite feisty despite their reserved appearances. The husband as I mentioned before is from Kochi Prefecture but the wife is from 兵庫県Hyogo Prefecture and two years younger than me. They inquired about my background and so I talked a bit about my hometown of Oklahoma as well as some other things about me. Needless to say, I left the café feeling good as always.☺
Update: Over three months later, I stopped by Organ for some lunch since I had been back for a month. The weekly meal was チキン南蛮chicken nanban, my second time having it, and it was as delicious as before.
The “snack” for the day was バナナのプチマフィンbanana no puchi mafin (“small” banana muffin), ￥230, with ホットミルクコーヒーhot milk coffee (in my favorite cup, the only butterfly one they have), ￥430, which came with a small chocolate chip cookie and a snowball cookie. My first muffin at Organ didn’t disappoint being moist and perfectly flavored; my milk coffee was the right choice this time. The owner-wife said that she called it “small” because she imagines the generous portions of the American muffins but to tell you the truth, it was a perfect size.☺
Other ways they got to my heart through my stomach😉:
週替わりごはんweekly lunch, ￥800 (due to consumption tax rising in 2015)
- 鶏もも肉のグリル バルサミコと醬油のソースgrilled chicken in balsamico & soybean sauce
- 鶏ときのこのクリーム煮chicken & mushroom cream stew
- ジンジャーポークgingered pork
- 塩豚と野菜の重ね蒸しsteamed layers of salted pork & vegetable
- バナナのタルト”today’s snack”: banana tart, ￥380
- マロンケーキchestnut cake, ￥400
- キャラメルリンゴのクランブルケーキcaramel apple crumble cake, ￥350, with coffee (the small slice of 蒸し焼きショコラsteam-baked chocolate cake was a nice little surprise on the house at the time) and coffee
- バナナとバニラのタルトbanana & vanilla tart, ￥380, and coffee
- 昔ながらのカスタードプリンold-fashioned custard pudding with coffee, ￥300
- りんごのタルトapple tart, ￥430
- 塩キャラメルとカリカリくるみのバターケーキsalted-caramel & crunchy-walnut butter cake, ￥380, and coffee
- いちこミルクロールケーキstrawberry-milk Swiss roll, ￥350, and coffee
- レモンのアイシングバターケーキbutter cake with lemon icing, ￥350, and iced coffee
Address: 京都府京都市下京区中堂寺櫛笥町7-12 Kyoto-fu. Kyoto-shi. Shimokyo-ku. Chudoji. Kushige-cho 7-12
Telephone number: 075-366-8135
Access: 市バス停留所壬生川五条より徒歩5分 5 minutes from Kyoto municipal bus stop Mibugawa Gojo; JR丹波口駅より徒歩10分(491m) 10 minutes (491 m) from JR Tambaguchi Station…no parking available but there are several car parks nearby.
Business hours: Monday-Wednesday, Friday-Sunday 11:00am-7:00pm
Café Holiday: Thursday