*found in Former Kyoto Cafes
Although あめんぼAmenbo cafe opened in July last year, I first noticed it when walking to 三条商店街Sanjo Shopping Street by 三条通Sanjo Street, after passing 新町通Shinmachi Street, with Mason a few months later in early October; I was surprised see such a modern yet traditional-style machiya shop where it used to just be an old, unused (at least it had seemed that way) machiya. We stopped in and tried some of their unique かりんとうkarintou, a Japanese snack made of fried dough cake and often coated with brown sugar; Amenbo’s karintou‘s flavors range from chocolate-covered to tomato-basil! The main shop, あめんぼ堂Amenbo-do, also a renovated machiya, is within walking distance of the JR 嵯峨野線円町駅Sagano Line Enmachi Station.
Although I didn’t buy any to take home that time, I was lucky to get some さつまいもかりんとうsatsumaimo karintou (sweet-potato karintou), ￥330 (lower right picture), from Masayo in mid-February this year.
On a whim about a month ago, I stopped in to check out the karintou donuts that they were advertising, which I discovered in passing (top left picture). The display case of donuts was right inside the entrance in the shop area which also had seats, including counter seating (top middle picture). The back area (middle right picture) was almost full except for a small table of two against the wall closest to the restroom which became my seat. The glass windows gave the customers a view of the French restaurant next-door. The kitchen was in the middle of the place (makes it easy for the staff to attend to customers on both sides of it).
After looking through the menu and conferring with the waiter, I got a ホットカフェラテhot caffè latte, ￥450 (￥100 off with donut) and the はちみつレモンかりんとうドーナツhachimitsu-remon karintou dohnatsu (honey-lemon karintou donut), ￥200 (bottom left picture). The caffè latte came with karintou-donut rusk which was softer than most rusk (more like caramelized chips) and easier to eat. The donut was soft and chewy (mochi-mochi is the best way to describe it), due to soybean paste in the dough, and the honey-lemon icing was so delicious that I wish that the donut had been more lavishly-topped with it☺. I definitely want to go back and try some more of the donuts and maybe purchase some karintou, too.
Update: Almost two months after the last time that I went, I suggested going to Amenbo (thanks to café 火裏蓮花Karirenge being full) when I met Maki and her friend, Yukiho, before they went to dinner…Yukiho was visiting from Tokyo and Maki thought it would be nice to take her to a Kyoto-like café. We were the only customers there until pretty much when we left, so we had the place to ourselves.☺
I had the ベリー大豆スムージーberii daizu smuujii (berry soy smoothie), ￥600 (center picture). It was delicious…I could really taste the soybeans, not to mention the berry flavor went so well with it. I recommended the honey-lemon karintou donut which Maki got with hot tea; she was impressed with it as much as I was when I had it last time. We were served free flavorful 黒豆茶kuro-mame cha (black bean tea); I had so many refills while there.☺
Unfortunately, we were informed before we left that Amenbo cafe will be closing on December 23rd this year; the karintou will still be available for purchase at Amenbo-do but the donuts will only be available for as long as the café is open. I’ll be going back as much as I can for the donuts and drinks; I urge anyone who is interested in trying the café to do the same.