I first heard about kátte, a café around 荒神口Koujinguchi (かもがわカフェKamogawa Café is close by) from Katalin who probably ran across it on bike while exploring one of the nooks and crannies of this rich city which is Kyoto. Our first attempt to go was a failure because we didn’t know they are closed on Tuesdays; over a week later, I decided on the spur of the moment to stop by on my way from Demachi, after getting some mame-mochi from 出町ふたばDemachi Futaba and having some anmitsu at みつばちMitsubachi, for a quick lunch since it was along the way.
simple and clean: kudos to Katalin for finding it despite its subtle exterior
simple and chic yet homey
There are four tables and a counter that serve as seating for customers.
the kitchen in front of the counter
Besides a party of two women at a two-seater table, the place was empty but that made it all the more attractive to me. I chose the seat furthest in at the counter.
Out of the three options for lunch, I decided that I was most in the mood for the チキンカレーchikin kareh (chicken curry set), ￥850, which came with ミモザサラダmimoza sarada (mimosa salad).
the curry with homemade pickles
Since it appeared that they do take-out coffee, I asked for my アイスコーヒーiced coffee, +￥150 with lunch, in a to-go cup.
Before I left, I mentioned that I was Katalin’s friend: Katalin must have been by soon after our failure to go together because they understood me to be that friend. I also told them I’d be back for especially one particular cake when I had more time to stay and relax.
Two days later, I decided that kátte would be the perfect place to take Mason so that she could study for the JLPT after we stopped by Demachi Futaba; plus, I could try the ピスタチオクリームのチョコロールpisutachio kureemu no choko rohru (pistachio-cream chocolate Swiss roll), ￥450, that I didn’t have a chance to try the first time I went (apparently Katalin had it the last time she came)…I got it with an iced coffee which is ￥100 off with sweets (￥350).
The pistachio cream was very flavorful and the chocolate soft and just the right amount of sweet, the dessert for any pistachio and/or chocolate lover.
Since we were the only customers for some time, I got to talk more with the sweet and friendly owners who are actually a pair of sisters who were born in Kyoto but raised in 高知県Kochi Prefecture where their family still lives. The name of the café comes from the first part of their parents’ restaurant’s name which they made up, so there really isn’t a meaning to the name; I thought maybe it was a Hungarian word because of the mark above the “a” but they just wrote it like that because it looks cute. However, the younger sister said Japanese that sound similar can make up for the meaning, like 勝手口katte-guchi (back door), 勝手katte (as one pleases) and 家庭katei (home) which express the hopes of the owners for customers to come in and spend time as they please for as long as they please. They use coffee beans from Circus Coffee which is still a young brand compared to others in Kyoto but the owner of Circus Coffee is a friend of one of their older sisters (there’s two more!), so it was an easy choice as for where they would get their beans.
I decided that I’d have an early dinner before we headed home; actually, it was just me not wanting to wait to try the ゴルゴンゾーラとピスタチオのおつまみペンネ(バゲット添え)gorugonzohra to pistachio no otsumami penne (bagetto-zoe) (gorgonzola & pistachio “snack” penne with baguette) ￥900, which I got with another ice coffee, ￥450.☺
The food was delicious (I’m sure pistachio-lovers would be interested in trying the fare)…the penne was so good that I was sad when it was gone but I was thankful for the slice of baguette with which I could have the remaining sauce. And the cake, well, let’s just say that Mason also got one (and it was the last one left, too) after having some of mine.
There are more things on the menu that I want to try, so I’ll be going back soon. They haven’t advertised much for the café and are hoping that word will spread by mouth…I am more than happy to help with that!☺
Update: Although I thought about going to kátte many times after the last time that I went, I didn’t actually make it over until almost a month later. I chose to sit at one of the two-seater tables near the entrance that gave me a good view of the small street outside.
I came with the intention of having the 沖縄・プカプカプーカの口笛ソーセージ(プレーン・チーズ・チョリソー)とマッシュポテトOkinawa puka-puka-puuka no kuchibue sousehji (pureen, chiizu, chorisou) to masshu poteto (Okinawa’s Pukapukapuuka “whistle” sausages (plain, cheese & chorizo) & mashed potatoes), ￥950; I ordered a ホットブレンドコーヒーhot blended coffee.
I had no complaints about this plate except that I wanted more of its contents ☺…by the way, the flavors of the sausages may change due to the seasons. The reason why the sausages are called “whistle” sausages is because eating them will make one so happy that he will want to whistle.
(FYI: Only two plain sausages are served with mashed potatoes now but the price is ￥100 less.)
The older-sister owner chatted a bit with me when she brought my order: she mentioned that earlier in the week she had stopped by Demachi Futaba before work and had gotten 栗餅kuri mochi, a rice cake with sweet red bean paste and a whole chestnut inside which she recommended that I try. We talked more about other cafés, the ones that are also included in this blog, so I know that they’ve been through my blog…she said that after I wrote this blog post, there seems to have been more non-Japanese customers. ☺
I decided that I had room for dessert when I saw レモンジンジャーバターケーキlemon-ginger butter cake, ￥350, on the small blackboard above the counter seating. The cake did not disappoint my expectations with bits of ginger in the butter cake with the most delectable lemon icing; plus, that’s ￥100 off for the coffee that I’d ordered earlier when paired with a cake.
I was glad to see that there was a steady flow of customers coming in as well as people stopping outside to check out the café; there were also some take-out orders for coffee.
I got a カフェラテcaffè latte to go when it was time for me to head home; take-out coffee is ￥50 off the regular price, so I just paid ￥450.
Thanks to the comforting taste of the latte, I had a pleasant walk to Kyoto Station. The cup is simple with the address also printed on the cup…easier for us to find our way back to have more fabulous food and drinks. ☺
Update: On a rainy (unexpected) holiday about four months later, I finally made it over to kátte (after making some unexpected stops at bonne volonté and お菓子工房Okashi-koubou sampo)…on Kawaramachi I ran into the younger sister of the two owners out running errands who told me that Fumie-san had come by earlier in the week; I love hearing that people actually take my suggestions for cafes!☺
When I arrived, I chose the same seat as last time because I wanted a view of the road outside. Since I hadn’t eaten, I decided to get the pukapukapu-ka sausage and mashed potatoes again…the cheese sausage that had been available last time had been replaced by 森のウインナーmori no wuinnah (forest sausage), which is also stuffed with finely-chopped mushroom and spinach making for a very subtle taste.
Of course I had to order one of the four baked sweets available as well as a drink.
キャラメルナッツタルトcaramel-nuts tart, ￥400, and カフェラテcaffè latte, ￥450 (￥50 off with sweets)
Although I felt the tart was softer than most, since the caramel-nuts part was like brittle, I was told to eat the tart by holding it with the cookie sheet…I’m beginning to realize that the sweets here make one feel warm inside with its homemade goodness as well as impresses with their sophisticated quality…anyway, the tart was delicious and disappeared more quickly than I’d expected, probably because of the on-and-off chatter I had with the owners.
Since I wasn’t ready to leave for a while, I ordered one of the appealing fall/winter drinks, ホットスパイスココアhot spice cocoa, ￥550, a little before I finished my caffè latte. The cocoa tasted just as good as the name implied and wasn’t grainy like a lot of cocoas I’ve had, thank goodness.
The cocoa lasted me for a while during which I chatted more with the owners, especially when I was the only customer for a while…I finally found out their names: Yae is the older sister and Aki is the younger sister.
I ended up staying long enough to decide to have something for dinner: we were talking about red bean paste and how good their red bean paste bagel sandwich is, which of course induced me to order it.
あんバターのベーグルサンドan-batah no behguru sando (red bean paste & butter bagel sandwich), ￥550
The heavy sweetness that I associate with anko didn’t bother me at all because it was complemented by a few slabs of salted butter, all sandwiched between a wonderfully chewy homemade bagel (yes, they make their own bagels); I’m definitely having this again!
I found out that Yae-san spent one year on working holiday in Canada; actually both she and Aki have very nice pronunciation although they’re too humble to admit it (I heard them speaking with a non-Japanese customer). They showed me the English menu which was pretty much perfect thanks to one of their older sisters who can speak and understand English and now lives in Okinawa. I also found out that the homemade sausages were products of a food distributor in Okinawa (probably introduced to them by their sister there) CALLED pukapukapu-ka; it wasn’t part of the name describing its plumpness after all.
When my cocoa was gone and I was still mid-conversation with the sisters, I decided to order another fall/winter drink, ホットジンジャーhot ginger,￥550 (sorry, no picture), swearing this was really my last order for the night.
I think I ordered enough to make up for the four months that I couldn’t go; I definitely got that much worth in fun conversation with the owners.☺
Update: Three weeks later, I was back at kàtte after getting off work…I walked all the way from 五条通Gojo Street on this the chilly but beautiful day because I knew I would stay long enough to have enough goodies to make me even want to walk to Kyoto Station to catch my train home.
The old dilapidated building next to the café was being torn down and made for a lot of ruckus in the usually calm area …luckily it didn’t keep customers from coming.
I took what was becoming my usual seat near the entrance. I saw that one of the 本日のおすすめhonjitsu no o-susume (today’s recommendations) was グリルチキンのシーザーサラダguriru chikin no shiizah sarada (grilled chicken Caesar salad), ￥750; it sounded good, so I took to ordering it. With large pieces of chicken and homemade croutons not to mention the overall flavoring of the salad, it was one of the best Caesar salads I’ve had…too bad it’s not on the regular menu.
I had been thinking of the an-butter bagel sandwich for a week which is one of the reasons I came; I put the order in for one (a caffè latte, too) at the same time I ordered the salad.
I ended up staying long enough (due to conversing with the owners and just enjoying the comfortable atmosphere) to have the スフレチーズケーキsoufflé cheesecake, ￥450, with アールグレイティーEarl Grey tea, ￥350 (￥100 off with dessert), as well.
Light with a unique savory cheese flavor, it disappeared fast (it helped being a melt-in-your-mouth kind of texture). Yae-san recommended tea with which is why I ended up choosing Earl Grey. Man, I wish I lived closer to come more often!
Update: Two months later, I went to back to kátte on its first anniversary (May 22), just like I had promised the weekend before when I had gone in. The place was quite full but there were a couple of seats left at the counter, so I took one…it was my first time sitting there since my first visit. The seat allowed me to chat with Yae-san and Aki-san when they weren’t too busy.
I had the スモークサーモンとクリームチーズのベーグルサンド(サラダ付)sumohku sahmon to kuriimu chiizu no behguru sando(sarada-tsuki) (smoked salmon & cream cheese bagel sandwich with salad), ￥800, and サワークリームとクリームチーズのクランブルタルトsawah cherii to kuriimu chiizu no kuranburu taruto (sour cherry & cream cheese crumble cake), ￥550, and an アイスカフェラテiced caffè latte, ￥450 (￥100 off with dessert)…actually, the caffè latte was ￥350 with an extra ￥100 off in celebration of the cafe’s first anniversary (in effect until the end of the weekend) and even came with snowball cookies, also in celebration of the anniversary.☺
It goes without saying that the bagel sandwich was delicious, because of the combination of the ingredients and especially because of kátte’s superbly chewy homemade bagel. The crumble tart was an irresistible combination of flavors and textures and the refreshingly tasty caffè latte was the perfect complement for it. I had the cookies when I got home because I was full at the café; of course they were good, too.☺
Update: A month later, I went to kátte after work in the early afternoon because I had the rest of the day free and it had been a while. I was in the mood to have the gorgonzola & pistachio penne, so I got that with a ライムトニックlime tonic, ￥500, to cool off after my walk there. The penne was as delicious as I remembered it and the lime tonic was refreshing and the right amount of sweet for me.
Afterwards I had a アイスキャラメルナッツラテiced caramel-nuts latte, ￥600, and メープルシナモンとクリームチーズベーグルmehpuru-shinamon to kuriimu chiizu behguru (bagel with maple-cinnamon cream cheese), ￥450. The combination of maple, cinnamon and cream cheese with kátte’s chewy bagels, I knew I would love the order. Although the latte alone could have been a dessert for many a people, I couldn’t resist a bagel…besides I had a month’s worth of chatting with Yae-san and Aki-san to sustain me until I finished.
Update: Almost a month later, when I had a free Saturday, I decided it was time to go to kátte. There was one customer at the seat that I often chose during cooler weather; for me the counter, being the coolest seat in the house, is becoming my seat of choice for the summer.☺
I had been craving their bagels, so I ordered the salmon & cream-cheese bagel sandwich with ゆずレモンソーダyuzu-lemon soda, ￥550.
I also had the pistachio-cream chocolate Swiss roll which was back for a limited time (probably egged on by Katalin who had been there sometime earlier asking for it) and an iced caffè latte. And for the hot walk to the 三条河原町Sanjo Kawaramachi area, I got one of the summer drinks, エスプレッソグラニータespresso granita, ￥700, to go. The espresso flavor was strong and mixed with fresh cream was a rich and cool drink…thanks to it, I was able to stay cool for most of my walk.
Update: Less than a month later, I was inspired to go back to kátte when Aki-san wrote me about their summer holiday from August 25-27. Although I had said that I would be by the weekend before that, the air-conditioner at my house breaking down got my hot self out of the house to take advantage of my day off. Since I’d be in the area, I decided to see if Lily’s cafe was still around but I couldn’t find the two-storied white building in which I found it last…maybe it really doesn’t exist anymore since I can’t find any concrete recent information on the place. Anyway, when I hit 同志社Doshisha campus, I felt that I was going too far, so I backtracked to Kawaramachi and made my way to kátte. みつばちMitsubachi was on the way, so I popped my head in to see if there was room for me to squeeze in a seasonal shaved ice before lunch but the place was full, no surprise. When my hot mess of self arrived at kátte, it too was full due to the lunch-hour rush but not too full enough for me to have a seat to wait for my ideal seat to open up while cooling down.
Before long, everyone left and I chose the middle seat at the counter because there was access to two air-conditioning units there…when my appetite returned, I ordered the lunch salad set of 半熟卵をのせた海老とオリーブのサラダhanjuku-tamago wo noseta ebi to oriibu no sarada (shrimp & olive salad topped with soft-boiled egg) which comes with バゲットbaguette and かぼちゃのポタージュスープkabocha no potahju suupu (pumpkin potage soup), all for ￥850. A healthy and satisfying lunch, both in flavor and amount…it left me enough room to have a iced caffè latte and 抹茶ババロア 自家製あんこ添えmaccha babaroa jikasei anko-zoe (green-tea bavarois with homemade red-bean paste), ￥500. Made with green tea from 一保堂茶舗Ippodochaho making it especially rich with flavor, I’d consider it one of the best green desserts that I’ve had…and kátte’s anko is so good, not too sweet to make me want to gag like a lot of others…I definitely took my time enjoying it. Unfortunately, they can’t make it too often, so I’ll be lucky when I can have it again.
For my trek to Kyoto Station (yes, in this morbidly humid weather, I’m crazy, I know), I opted for a lime tonic which ended up keeping me cool until past 四条通Shijo Street which is awesome, about a 30-40 minute walk!
During their less-harried times, we caught up and talked about Japanese culture as opposed to non-Japanese cultures and about cafes. During their brief vacation, the sisters will be hitting different destinations to check out cafes, Yae-san going to Seoul and Aki-san heading to Tokyo. I can’t wait to hear about their travels when they get back.☺
Other things I’ve had since then:
Address: 京都府京都市上京区荒神町120平田ビル 1F Kyoto-fu. Kyoto-shi. Kamikyo-ku. Koujin-machi 120. Hirata Bldg. 1F
Telephone number: 075-746-3538
Access: 京阪本線神宮丸太町駅5番口 徒歩7分(421m) seven-minute walk from Keihan Line Jingu Marutamachi Station or 京都市営バス荒神口停留所下車すぐsoon upon arrival at Kyoto Municipal Bus Stop Koujinguchi…parking available
Business hours: weekdays- 11:30am~11:00pm, weekend & national holidays- 1:00-11:00p.m.
Café Holiday: Tuesday