I had heard about Cafe Phalam from Katalin several months before I finally got a chance to check it out, when Katalin was hanging out there before heading to a jazz gig at a bar close by in early June of this year. According to Katalin’s directions, there was a Lawson next to the café located diagonally across from 二条駅Nijo Station and that’s the landmark that I used to find it.
the view of the café from the parking lot of the convenience store, Lawson
a terrace area where one can smoke (no smoking inside)…nice, I’m sure, when it’s neither too hot nor too cold
to the left upon walking in: proof that they’re serious about coffee
plenty of reading material and zakka
the view of the place from where I sat near the other entrance
the tempting display case of sweets next to the register right in front of my eyes
Yes, this is the front entrance (with coffee-related goods for sale)…how did I miss it? ☺
As one can see from the pictures, the interior is natural and cozy. I was beginning to see why Katalin chooses to hang out here for hours, besides the great coffee (they use Cafe Time beans) of which she raves and the free Wi-Fi connection, still quite rare in most places in Japan…plus, some of the staff can speak English. Katalin said that the owners of Phalam are friends (even ex-coworkers) with Itsumi-san at Sentido.
I was hungry after all the shopping just before getting there, so I ordered a チーズバーガーcheeseburger, ￥780, which came with a drink; I got an アイスアメリカーノice Americano (they just got these glasses in at the time).
The café serves a healthy food menu using very little meat; Katalin who is vegetarian recommends the food here. Even the sweets make you feel little guilt for indulging.
That’s why I had an エスプレッソブラウニーespresso brownie, ￥350,
and got a ブラックスコーンblack scone, ￥220, to go.
The cheeseburger topped with cheddar cheese was delicious and came with a healthy side of salad. The brownie was drier than the style of brownies that I love but it did the job in satisfying my craving for dessert and went great with my coffee which was one of the most flavorful Americanos that I’ve had. The scone, which I had later at home when I got a bit of the munchies, was soft and filling and the perfect dark-chocolate flavor.
About three weeks later, I met Katalin again at Phalam after work on a weekday to do some catching-up. I arrived first and since I was hungry, I ordered a フォカッチャサンド(クリームチーズとオリーブペースト)cream cheese & olive paste focaccia sandwich, ￥480, and an ice Americano.
The crispy and chewy texture of the focaccia and the flavorful cream cheese mixture makes for a sandwich that I’ll be tempted to order any time that I come here.
(Unfortunately, the focaccia sandwich is no longer offered.)
When Katalin arrived, she ordered an エスプレッソスムージーespresso smoothie, ￥680; she raved about it so much that I got one to go when we took leave of each other.
If you want a smoothie that actually tastes like it’s espresso-based, this is your drink.
Last weekend, over a month later than last time, I met Katalin, who had been away for a month traveling around Japan, at Phalam again to catch up. I had a late lunch, so I just ordered a ニンジンココナッツケーキninjin kokonattsu keeki (carrot-coconut cake), ￥350, with an ice Americano…as you can see, the Americano is becoming a habit.
So is the focaccia sandwich (not pictured) which I had with プラムジンジャーplum ginger, ￥600.
The carrot cake was the perfect amount of sweetness and had a soft yet chewy (because of the coconut) texture which was wonderful. The plum ginger was refreshingly sweet and spicy, somewhat like 梅酒ume-shu (plum wine).
By the time that I ordered the sandwich and plum ginger, Yoko, a friend of Katalin’s, joined up with us before she headed to a friend’s bar. I had met her once at 969★Café when she and Katalin were there together but it was this time that I realized how good that her English is (she has a cute Australian accent, I think that she spent some time in both Australia and England before). ☺
Catching up with a friend and getting acquainted with a new one all over good coffee and food, that’s why I love cafés!
Update: Not even a week later, Mason and I went to Phalam so that I could grab lunch, my first meal of the day…she had just seen her family off at Kyoto Station and was on her way back when I got in touch with her and she kindly obliged to wait for me around Nijo Station until I could get there (luckily, there was a rapid train from Kameoka that got me there quickly). Mason had heard about Phalam from Watanabe-kun (Cafe Time connection, she bought coffee beans at the Kameoka shop once when he was still working there) and had wanted to go sometime.
I finally ordered the ハタケ定食hatake teishoku (hatake meal), ￥780, which came with salad (with edible dressing, this time with an onion base), (carrot) pickles, (tomato & summer vegetable) soup, boiled egg with an (olive-miso) paste, (vegetable) quiche, multi-grain rice (topped with a sprinkling of a sesame seeds and salt mixture for flavor) and dessert (mix of orange and yogurt). The menu comprises usually of the same combination of dishes but customers who often have the meal can try different variations of the dishes depending on the day and season.
I believe that hatake means “field” in this context, which makes sense because the meal seemed to be composed mainly of ingredients raised in a field. It was filling and tasty and the best part was that it was healthy. I especially liked the soup which had a taste more like chili than minestrone (I don’t like minestrone) and the quiche which had a whole-grain crust that gave the quiche a tinge of sweetness…the dressing (grated-onion base) for the salad was yummy, too!
Mason seemed pleased with the atmosphere and menu (she is partial to a good cappuccino as well although this time she had the black scone and a specialty latte), so she’ll probably come again, with or without me. ☺
Update: A month later, I met Katalin at Phalam for coffee and catching up; she got there before me and had already ordered a coffee and the hatake meal. There seemed to be a workshop going on in the back, so I made a mental note to keep the noise level down.
I got the スパイシーオレンジの生チョコタルトsupaishii orenji no nama-choko taruto (spicy orange chocolate tart), ￥450, with an ice Americano which I got in a to-go cup in the case that I couldn’t finish it within the hour that we had before they closed.
Look at the beautiful color of the chocolate; no wonder that Katalin thought that it was red velvet or something of the likes. The texture of the cake was closer to a brownie, maybe because it’s chilled before serving…I loved it! The type of tart is due to change and available for only a limited time because the patisssière uses ingredients of the season.
Katalin had informed the owners on Facebook that I wrote about Phalam in my blog and they were so pleased! Reactions like this from the owners and readers make me so happy that I started this blog; it makes writing about the cafes to which I’ve been so much more worthwhile!
Update: Three weeks later, Mason and I went to have a bite to eat and for Mason to get some studying done for the JLPT during which I would get organized from the past couple of weeks and use the remaining time to read the magazines on Kyoto provided by the café. We sat side by side on a bench seat at a big table near the back entrance; the height of the table was perfect for studying or getting work done.
the table next to ours…”P” for “Phalam” on the chairs ☺
Mason ordered the focaccia sandwich which had basil paste this time instead of the olive paste that I had before; after the meal she got down to studying with an espresso brownie and a ハニーシナモンラテhoney cinnamon latte, ￥510 (sorry, no picture this time). I had the hatake meal with which I had an ice Americano for an additional ￥300. I got a カプチーノcappuccino, ￥460, to keep my mouth busy while I got some work done.
It was as good as Katalin said.
Speaking of Katalin, she dropped in to my surprise (well, not really when you think about it, she often comes when she’s free or has work and wants coffee) and we chatted a bit, then with Mason when she finished studying, before Mason and I left to go find her some sneakers that she’s been wanting.
Update: Over a month later and two days after Phalam’s fourth anniversary, I met Katalin to catch up…before I got to the café, Katalin informed me of the ありがとうarigatou (thank-you) set at ￥439 (“4” for four years and “3” and “9” for the Japanese pronunciation of “thank you” (“san-kyu“) for a limited time; of course I had to get it ☺:
One of the staff members wrote a personal message on the card upon ordering the set (my drink was a macchiato; everything was a heart, even the cookie❤. I also got the carrot cake and ended up taking the cookie home…the oatmeal cookie with nuts and raisins was hard in texture and subtly sweet; definitely a guilt-free treat. ☺
Update: Over two months later, Mason and I decided to have coffee and catch up before meeting Lars, Judith and David for dinner at LA JOLLA. The ダブルメープルジンジャーラテdouble maple ginger latte, ￥680, sounded the most attractive to me: It was every bit as yummy and filling as I expected it to be…maple syrup and grated ginger makes a great combination☺…I’m definitely going to have it again!
Update: Almost a month later, I met Katalin for the first time in the new year to catch up and try the new tart that Phalam announced on their Facebook page, オレンジプディングタルトorange pudding tart, ￥450, which I had with my first カフェラテcaffè latte, ￥480, ever at Phalam. I’ve never really had a pudding tart but it was the most filling tart yet and the pudding part reminded me of rice cake while Katalin, who was tempted to get one herself after trying mine, said it reminded her of marzipan.
I also ended up getting a new drink, ホットカフェアップルhot cafe apple, ￥650…how could one not be curious to how this would taste? The homemade apple syrup was surprisingly a great match for the Americano base. I found it very easy to drink, and I wouldn’t mind trying it again!☺
Katalin also brought some unexpected (but welcome) guests, her Hungarian friends, a couple, Gergo & Janka, and their two-year-old daughter who I saw on 住人十色Juunin-Tohiro (a pun off the phrase “十人十色juunin-tohiro” which basically means “different strokes for different folks”, replacing “十人” with “住人” meaning “resident”) when they introduced their self-renovation machiya home, called “DOMA House”, in Kyoto (their daughter was still an infant when I saw the airing of that segment). Katalin stayed there for a little over a week when she was between apartments but still goes there, especially for events and especially because Janka’s cooking is wonderful.☺ You can find the link for their website here at Hitori Kyoto (http://d.hatena.ne.jp/doma_house/).
Update: Two months later, I finally made it back to Cafe Phalam. There were several customers, including a party with a small child, when I arrived but it was fairly quiet most of the time. Besides two of the staff that I already knew, there was also a new female staff member who took my order.
I ordered the hatake meal with the coffee of the day, モカシダモmocha sidamo for ￥1150…the price had gone up to ￥850 but it’s still a reasonable price for the quality and quantity of food that one gets with this meal; the coffee was an extra ￥300.
Thanks to kàtte, I’m exploring new red-bean-paste horizons☺: I also ordered the coffee bean-shaped (such a novel idea!) コーヒーあんぱんkoh-hii anpan (coffee-flavored red-bean-paste bread), ￥250, for after the meal…it came at the perfect time toasted. Made with Phalam’s espresso, 有機小豆yuuki azuki (organic red beans) and 全粒粉zenryuufun (whole wheat flour), all baked together at panscape, this anpan is a collaboration between the two shops. Chewy bread and the bean paste’s sweetness meshing with the rich flavor of espresso, it’s definitely 大人の味otona no aji (of grown-up taste).☺
Update: About a week later, I met Katalin to catch up for the first time in two months at Phalam…the current tart, ビーガンアップルクランブルタルトvegan apple crumble tart, ￥500, and a マキアートmacchiato, ￥450, were what I got to pass the time while talking. I tried to make it last as long as possible but I was still sad when I finished…I might have ordered another one if it hadn’t looked like I had the last piece for the day. Healthy yet delicious, this is one of their best tarts yet!☺
Update: Over two months later, I met Mason at Phalam before going to dinner. Since I hadn’t had anything to eat yet that day, I ordered a レモンカフェマフィンlemon cafe muffin, ￥290, and an アイスハニーシナモンラテiced honey-cinnamon latte, ￥530. The muffin was wholesome and lemony, filled with bits of sweet lemon peel and topped with a sweetly preserved lemon slice…they even supplied me with some lemon syrup, complete with lemon peel, in which I could either dip my muffin or pour it over the muffin which made it an even more delightful eating experience. My latte was rich and easy to drink. Mason arrived before I got my order, so she just ordered a black scone to keep me company until I finished the muffin. Other than Mai-san, one of the owners, there were two part-timers that I didn’t recognize. I wish we could have stayed longer but dinner was calling.☺
Update: Four weeks later, I was back at Phalam when I got to Nijo with enough time before meeting Mason for dinner…I ordered the 抹茶ラテmaccha rate (green-tea latte). ￥680, and a bag of 無農薬レモンピールmunouyaku remon piiru (organic lemon peel), ￥200, from the jars of goodies that could be taken home at the front. The green-tea latte was rich and sweet and, believe it or not, the lemon peel, both sweet, sour and bitter at the same time, tasted great with it.
Since then I’ve also had:
Address: 京都府京都市千本御池上る 新二条ビル 1F Kyoto-fu. Kyoto-shi. Senbon Oike-agaru Shin-Nijo Bldg. 1F
Telephone number: 075-496-4843
Access: JR嵯峨野線二条駅徒歩2分minutes from JR Sagano Line Nijo Station (東側から出て信号を渡ります。Cross the street from the east exit.); 京都市営地下鉄東西線二条駅徒歩3分minutes from Kyoto Municipal Subway Tozai Line Nijo Station (東側から出て信号を渡ります。Cross the street from the east exit.); 京都バス・市バス・JRバス二条駅前下車すぐsoon on arrival by Kyoto, Kyoto Municipal or JR bus stop Nijo Eki Mae…bike parking and one space for handicapped parking available
Business hours: Mon-Fri- 8:00am~8:00pm, Sat-Sun & public holiday- 11:00am~7:00pm
Café Holiday: Wednesday
Smoking allowed in the terrace area
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/phalamara