*found in Former Kyoto Cafes
I first heard of CAFE アセルボク which opened in August 2012 from Ryo who goes there often these days to work or relax while having coffee or even a meal and recommended it to me; since he and I have similar tastes when it comes to our favorite cafes, I felt an urge to check it out, even if it appeared they allowed smoking (according to information in a book that I read at huku cafe and Aseruboku’s website). On weekdays, it would be hard to go when I have work, especially because it opens at 2:00pm, but my first attempt to go after work in the evening was a failure when I went at the spur of the moment on a Thursday, their regular holiday. There were books outside the cafe which I learned were part of the “SWAP IT PROJECT” where anyone can bring a book that he doesn’t read anymore and swap it for another book there…simply genius. Besides, any cafe that has plenty of books means that I can relax for a long time there which puts it on my list of ideal cafes.
I suggested going there when Mason and I met for dinner at the end of last month. Mason wasn’t so crazy about the allowance of smoking in the place but when we arrived at the MC Building and as we went up to the second floor (the cafe is right above 高木珈琲TAKAGI COFFEE), she started to get excited about checking it out.
The kitchen was to our left upon entering (top left picture) and the communal seating area by the window that looks out on 高筋通Takasuji Street was straight ahead (top middle picture).
The cafe was half full when we arrived but we were able to grab a cozy table with a small sofa and armchairs in a corner way in the back. The interior was rough and homey with artistic touches and antique furniture imported from the States.
There was less on the food menu than what I saw in a book about Aseruboku but the 鶏からネギだれ定食tori-kara negi-dare teishoku (fried chicken in green-onion sauce), ￥780 (middle left picture), was still available; Mason and I both got it. The miso soup and salad that came with the plate were both light in flavor, delicious and healthy. The chicken with the sauce was the most flavorful, the perfect partner for the rice. We were both satisfied when we finished.
Mason always takes her time eating and although I also am not a fast eater, I finished before her which gave me enough time to consider ordering dessert (a cafe experience isn’t complete without a meal AND dessert☺)…I chose チーズケーキcheesecake, ￥450 (bottom left picture). Since we were going for coffee to the 三条大橋Sanjo-Ohashi Starbucks afterward, I didn’t get a drink. The cheesecake was rich and smooth, made with plenty of cream cheese, and although baked barely had a crust; I really didn’t need the fresh cream and fruit sauce that came with it (I did have them all separately, though). Mason had a taste and was impressed with it, too.
The name, Aseruboku, can be written 焦る僕, or “rushing I”…the owner, a reserved moustached man with a soft and soothing voice who runs it with his wife (who wasn’t there when we went), probably wanted to create an atmosphere that inspires him and other men who visit the cafe (the main concept of the cafe is a place where guys can relax alone; the “boku” in the cafe’s name is the term guys use to refer to themselves), of course their female customers as well, to be the opposite of what is implied in the name and that frees everyone from the everyday rush of life. With dim lighting, quiet music and comfortable seating, I think he’s doing it right.
According to their Tumblr microblog (sorry to those unfamiliar with Japanese), starting from March Aseruboku will be serving only sweets and snacks to go with their drink menu (from coffee to alcohol) until they specify otherwise, so for those who were hoping to try their meals, this is sad news indeed but let’s hope the meals will come back soon. For the month of March, they will be opening an hour later than usual but still until 2:00am.
My first experience was lucky to be smoke-free, the only downfall of the cafe; I’ll have to keep my fingers crossed for all my visits to be that way.☺
Update: I heard from Fumie-san this past week who heard it from Ryo who heard it from the owner himself and after checking with Ryo, it has been confirmed that Aseruboku closed its doors on September 30, 2014, for personal reasons (nothing too serious, though).