Former Kyoto Cafes

✠ In memory of the good cafes to which I had the privilege of going before they closed their doors✠

Rice ball cafe Aund (closed as of ?)

from top: the view of the café from the other side 烏丸通Karasuma Street; the Aランチlunch which changed every day

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Back in early 2006, the two huge rice kernels that are part of the logo for this casual yet chic café caught my eye. I still have a good impression of the simple Japanese-style food as well as the reasonable prices (the meal in the picture is from June 2006), the perfect quick lunch if you like rice balls. However, maybe a year or so later, we noticed that, perhaps, the cram school above had extended down to the café area and Aund was gone…I regret having gone only a couple of times.

Lily’s cafe (closed as of ?)

clockwise from top left: at the bottom of the stairs up to the café; the view from the entrance; the seats by the window; the view from our seats; the kitchen; a cute corner of the café; my カフェオレcafé au lait, ¥500, with stroopwafel; Daddy’sトーストtoast, ¥300, and ブレンドコーヒーblended coffee, ¥450; Mommy’s coffee with stroopwafel

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One of my first memorable Kyoto café experiences was Lily’s cafe on 今出川通Imadegawa Street not too far from 同志社Doshisha campus…in late April my parents were visiting me and I had taken them to 出町ふたばDemachi Futaba when they informed me that they needed coffee as soon as possible. It was a fantastic choice because I fell in love with the lovely interior. The coffee and toast may have seemed ordinary compared with other cafes but the care that the sweet female owner took to prepare them came across clear to me making it a wonderful experience. I went back seven years after that visit looking for it but the building itself must have been torn down because to my dismay I couldn’t find anything that resembled it in the site noted on the shop card that I still had, not to mention that I can’t find information on the place and whatever I find seems to state that the place is currently not in business.

Fuyacho Nijo Hotdog Cube 麸屋町二条店 (closed as of ?)

clockwise from left: the front of the little shop; Mr. Man’s スタンダードドッグstandard dog with a side of ベイクドポテトbaked potato and アイスティーiced tea; my ホットチリドッグhot chili dog

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Mr. Man and I came upon this small café while we were exploring south of 御所Gosho and looking for a place to lunch in late March 2009. It had only counter seating and high chairs inside but it was simple and clean. The hot dogs were pretty good but I especially liked the baked potato which were more like herbed fried potato cakes.

Koto Café (closed as of ?)

top: the outside seating with a view of the café behind it; bottom: warming カフェオレcafé au lait and yummy シナモントーストcinnamon toast while getting some organizing done

PhotoFancie2014_04_12_19_02_21 (Koto Cafe)

Pretty much the beginning of Hitori Kyoto, I’d seen Koto Cafe many times passing through the 三条商店街Sanjo Shopping Street but I didn’t pay a visit to it until early October 2010 after watching a movie at BiVi…unfortunately it was the last time that I went because the next time I passed through a year or so later, it was gone and another café was in its place.

Café Angelina (closed as of ?)

clockwise from left: bagel cheeseburger set; near the entrance of the café; the back area of the café; a cherub on a beam in the rafters above; and pancakes

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After walking from 北山Kitayama area to the 御池Oike area in early May 2010, Kate and I had dinner here. It was a charming European-style (French-style?) café, very accessible being on 寺町通Teramachi Street north of 御池通Oike Street in a quiet commercial area but unfortunately this was the first and last time before I noticed it was closed, maybe about two years ago?

CAFE HERON (closed as of July 1, 2012)

clockwise from top left: the entrance; the view from the second floor dining; one part of the second floor dining area; the other part of the second floor dining area; Yuri’s カレーライスcurry & rice topped with grilled vegetables, ¥1000; the drinks (coffee) that came with our meals; and my delicious 本日のパスタ:海老と菜の花のバジルクリームtoday’s pasta: shrimp & rape-blossom spaghetti in a basil cream sauce, ¥1000, when we went in mid-March 2012

PhotoFancie2014_04_09_17_35_31 (CAFE HERON)

Exiting 二条駅Nijo Station and walking straight on 御池通Oike Street toward 堀川通Horikawa Street, one can easily pass CAFE HERON without noticing it unless attentive enough to notice a sleek gray sign with the name of the café stenciled on it (actually, many of the businesses on this street as well as Kyoto have understated advertising). However, gathering up enough courage to peek through the thick wooden doors, one would have been glad to have chanced upon such a hidden and chic café with simple yet delicious food.

honeybee Kawaramachi河原町店 (closed as of December 25, 2012)

clockwise from left: the pop, diner-like dining space from a table near the entrance; チキンとお漬物の和風ソースオムライスchicken & pickles omurice in Japanese-style sauce, which came with salad, with アイス紅茶iced tea for ¥1200 in late April 2010; my plain waffle topped with honey when Rika & I lunched at honeybee in mid-July 2010; Rika’s ブラウニーとメープルチョコバナナミニワッフルbrownie & maple-chocolate-banana mini waffle; and my plain mini waffle with maple syrup when I dined there in late April 2010

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The first time I went to honeybee was the one at the 京都駅ビルKyoto Station Bldg. was my first year in Kyoto with some members of the same program on which I came; the next year we had some drinks there when greeting new members of the program. When the Kawaramachi one opened, I was ecstatic because I’d be able to go here more, even alone (I also went with Jun and Rika). It didn’t take me long to get hooked on their omurice with somewhat slimy (that’s ankake for you) but delicious Japanese-style sauce; the waffles were great, too, that’s why I often ordered them plain. Their use of honey in many items on the menu was just my style (I LOVE honey!). I was disappointed when they went out of business (during a time I didn’t go much) but luckily their waffles and other menu items can still be experienced at the Kyoto Station Bldg. one.

Sanjo mumokuteki cafe & foods 三条店 (closed as of December 31, 2012)

clockwise from top left: big table in the middle; tables to the side; back of the café; the tasty キノコと小松菜のリゾットmushroom & Japanese mustard spinach risotto, ¥950; the scrumptious salad that came with the risotto; アイスたんぽぽコーヒーiced dandelion coffee, ¥450; the unforgettable クラッシック豆腐チーズケーキclassic tofu cheesecake, ¥500, that I had in late July 2012

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Sanjo mumokuteki cafe & foods 三条店 was on the second floor of the Sanjo TC Bldg on 三条通Sanjo Street, with よーじやカフェYojiya cafe on the first floor (before that, it was café that specialized in bagels to which Rika and I went three years ago). Using natural and simple interior and incorporating green into the decor, the café tried to create a relaxed atmosphere where customers can enjoy a healthy menu that uses as little meat and dairy products as possible, no artificial flavoring and only organic vegetables. Even those who don’t really take to vegetables would have found it easy to eat anything on the menu. The area outside the café on the second floor sold mumokuteki goods and wear. A bit sad that it’s gone but good news: one can still have mumokuteki fare and buy their goods at the 御幸町店Gokomachi shop.

喫茶feカフェっさKissa-fe Café-ssa (closed as of June 2013)

clockwise from top left: the entrance; same interior as its days as Kissa ROKKA; the high counter area; the amazing 鳥もも肉を使った和風カルボナーラJapanese-style carbonara with chicken-leg meat, ¥650; the subtly-sweet and rich シナモンシュガーチーズケーキcinnamon-sugar cheesecake, ¥380; and the pleasant ホットカフェラテhot caffè latte, +¥200 with dessert as part of theドリンクセットdrink set that I got when I went in late October 2012

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Originally the location for 喫茶六花Kissa ROKKA of which the owner was a regular, 喫茶feカフェっさKissa-fe Café-ssa was a café located close to the 吉川町商店街Yoshikawacho Shopping Street; the rustic feel of the café was a perfect complement to the little shopping street where one can get a hint of local Kyoto life. The owner, Okuno-san, himself being the son of the owner of one of the well-known coffee shops in Kyoto, 六曜社Rokuyosha, and having worked for 前田珈琲Maeda Coffee, he’s no stranger to good coffee. His concept for the café was a place that also offers light meals and dessert as well as good coffee where one can hang out for as long as he likes, whether alone or with friends. Since he felt the establishment was neither just a kissa or a café, he blended the two words together to get the current name. The only fallback of the café for me was that it allowed smoking; if it was still in business, with a cozy atmosphere, unique food and sweets menu and excellent coffee, it would have been on my list of recommendations. One still has a chance to have his coffee because he’s working at Rokuyosha now.

gurigura café (closed as of June 25, 2013)

clockwise from top left: the entrance; the view of the street from my table by the entrance; the café toward the back; my cake set: the rich and flavorful キャラメルNYチーズケーキcaramel New York cheesecake and yummy ホットアーモンドカフェラッテhot almond caffè latte, ¥750; the satisfying 麦味噌仕立ての親子どんぶりchicken and egg in barley miso sauce rice bowl, ¥850, that I got when I went in early April 2012; and near the front (the book after which the café is named is on the shelf to the left)

PhotoFancie2014_04_09_21_05_51 (gurigura cafe)

Named after a Japanese children’s book, “ぐりとぐらGuri to Gura (Guri and Gura)”, the small café offered the coziness of a room at home with primarily wood interior and an especially comfortable-looking couch. The menu included healthy dishes using the freshest ingredients; the rice served was a mix of white and brown rice, cooked in an iron pot the old-fashioned way. Despite it always being full of people with people waiting to get in, everyone still managed to take their sweet time and the kind owner never tried to rush people out. I wish that hadn’t kept me from going at least one more time before it closed.

Kawaramachi Sanjo Ogawa Coffee The Cafe河原町三条店 (closed as of August 18, 2013)

clockwise from top left: the exterior; the counter space on the first floor (iPads available for customer use); the scrumptious リコッタチーズ・トマト・スモークサーモンのサンドricotta cheese, tomato & smoked salmon sandwich, ¥450, plus salad & カフェラテcaffè latte for ¥300, that I had in mid-October 2013; the view of the counter from my seat

PhotoFancie2014_04_11_01_37_01 (Ogawa Coffee The Cafe河原町三条店)

Kawaramachi Sanjo Ogawa Coffee The Cafe was a modern two-story café in the 寺町新京極商店街Teramachi-Shinkyogoku Shopping Street where one can grab a reasonable bite to eat and/or drink Ogawa Coffee’s famous coffee made by skilled baristas. It was an ideal place to chat with a friend, spend time alone or even study.

Keju (closed as of September 30, 2013)

clockwise from top left: the exterior; the display cases of cheesecakes; the view upon walking in; the view of the dining area from the back; 和三盆焼ドーナツwasanbon (refined Japanese sugar) baked donut; my light 京豆乳と丹波黒豆のれあちーずKyoto soy-milk & Tanba black-bean no-bake cheesecake, ¥378, and sweet 桜あずきラテcherry blossom-red bean latte that I had when I went with Mason in early April 2013; Mason’s 宇治ベイクド濃厚抹茶rich Uji green tea baked cheesecake; the garden in the back

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Is this place closed? I found notice that they were moving but I still can’t find to where they moved. At any rate, Keju was a café with pop-style interior on 三条通Sanjo Street around 烏丸御池Karasuma Oike with an amazing assortment of cheesecake and I wish I could have gone more, especially after discovering how great their green-tea baked cheesecake was.

あめんぼAmenbo cafe (closed as of December 23, 2013)

clockwise from top left: the entrance; the front where goods to be taken home are sold; the tables in the back by the window looking out on a French restaurant; the dining area in the back; さつまいもかりんとsweet-potato karintou, ¥330, from my co-worker; the flavorful ホットカフェラテhot caffè latte, ¥450 (¥100 off with donut) and the delightfully-chewy はちみつレモンかりんとうドーナツthat I got in early October 2013; and the rich and tasty ベリー大豆スムージーberry soy smoothie, ¥600, that I got when I went with Maki and Yukiho in early December (that’s when I found out they were closing!)

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Although あめんぼAmenbo cafe opened in July 2012, 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. The few things that I had there was all good (and the staff was really nice); too bad I can’t have those goodies anymore.

Café Le Boudoir (closed as of ?)

clockwise from top left: the appetizer plate that came with lunch when Maki and I went in early March 2013;  the back area; the exterior; my A lunch, 厚切りベーコンとフレッシュトマトのオイルパスタthickly-sliced bacon & fresh-tomato oil-based pasta,¥780; Maki’s D lunch, 黒毛和牛テールと夏野菜の自家製カレーJapanese Black beef-tail & summer-vegetable homemade curry,¥1050; the kitchen; and the area near the entrance

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Café Le Boudoir is a small charming French café on the first floor of the ルーシア御池ビルLucia Oike Bldg. on 衣棚通Koromotana Street south of 御池通Oike Street. Although a café, it offered delicious restaurant-style fare. It’s a shame that it’s no longer open.

Citron sucré (closed as of March 23, 2014)

clockwise from top left: the front from outside; the entrance area; baked sweets to take home or have at the café; display case of sweets; タルトシトロンlemon pie, ¥380, and アイス塩キャラメルミルクiced salty caramel milk, ¥550; counter seating at the front with the view of 姉小路通Aneyakoji Street; the middle of the dining area; the dining area closest to the restroom; the kitchen

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I first learned of Citron sucré in early June 2010 when Shun suggested having dessert there after lunch at cinq cafe because they’re known for their lemon tart. I was able to go back only one time more before I found out that they’d closed (so that the pâtissière for the café could focus more on baking classes) but at least I was able to refresh my memory on how delicious and pleasing to the eye (I swear the top of the tart sparkled like gold) the lemon tart was. Their sweets can still be had at Bistro Bar à Vin C, a restaurant in the same chain.

cafe Noinah (closed as of June 23, 2014)

clockwise from top left: the seating out front (pets are welcome); the display of cakes near the register; the bustling café; Halka’s チョコマッドケーキchocolate mud cake; my Oreo New York cheesecake; チキンマリネベーグルサンドchicken mariné bagel sandwich; and an area next to the window

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Although the day that I went with Halka, it was quite full of customers and we barely got a seat, with a pop yet sophisticated, homey interior and customers from all walks of life, it’s a café that I would have wanted to go to more often if I lived close by, especially to hang out alone. I didn’t have a chance to try more food and drinks there but I’ll always remember the delicious Oreo New York cheesecake that I had there.

カフェ バーバチカкафе бабочка cafe babočka (closed as of June 30, 2014)

clockwise from top left: the entrance to cafe babočka on the second floor of Tree’s Bldg.; upon entering the cafe; the dining area; the terrace; ビーフストロガノフbeef stroganoff, ¥950; スイールニキsyrniki, ¥450, and ロシアンティー(ジャム付)Russian tea with jam, ¥500, for the dessert and drink set; ピロシキpirozchki and ボルシチborscht of the ロシアンセットRussian set, ¥1050; and wares for sale

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One of the few cafes that I was able to go back to before it closed its doors after 11 years of business…I wish I could have gone there more but 北山Kitayama was always a bit far for me. cafe babočka was a charming cafe that any girl would love with its Russian-style theme and its cozy atmosphere but of course that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t popular with male customers as well. I only had the Russian cuisine which was excellent and I regret not having had more.

CAFE アセルボクAseruboku (closed as of September 30, 2014)

clockwise from top left: the kitchen to the left upon entering; big-table seating area by the window that looks out on 高筋通Takasuji Street; the seating behind the curtain partition; view of the kitchen; the most intimate corner of the café; チーズケーキcheesecake, ¥450; 鶏からネギだれ定食fried chicken in green-onion sauce, ¥780

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I’m sad to say that I went to CAFE Aseruboku only once in the two years that it was open, especially because my fellow café-goer, Ryo, only had great reviews about the place (he’s the one who informed me of the closing). The only thing that I didn’t like about it was that it allowed smoking, otherwise it seemed like a great place to relax and grab a bite to eat or have coffee and some sweets, whether alone or with a friend or two. Although I’m not a fan of alcoholic drinks, it’s pretty rare for a café to be open until 2:00am in the morning, perfect for those who get off work a little late.

huku cafe (closed as of October 11, 2014)

clockwise from top left: the exterior; the first floor from 御池通Oike Street; the first floor from 押小路通Oshikoji Street; looking down from the café; the front of the café from the back; the back of the café from the front; the stylish iced coffee dripper; the café at night from Oshikoji Street; the café from the front at night

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clockwise from top left: グリーンカレーとスモールサラダgreen curry & small salad, ¥980; チョコフレンチトーストchocolate French toast, ¥750→¥850; ジーラライス&スパイシーミートオムレツJeera rice & spicy-meat omelette, ¥1200; 厚切りハニートースト~フロマージュブランのせthick honey toast topped with fromage blanc, ¥700; 牛ひき肉と野菜のチリライスminced beef & vegetable chili & rice, ¥950; なすとさんしょのごはんセットeggplant & Japanese-pepper rice set, ¥1000; 野菜とケイジャンポークライスvegetable & Cajun-pork rice, ¥1200; ビーフパストラミサンドウィッチbeef pastrami sandwich, ¥1400, with スパイスミルクティーspice milk tea, ¥650; デリープレート・パン付deli plate with bread, ¥1400

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To tell you the truth, my first impression of huku cafe wasn’t so outstanding when I first went in mid-May 2013 with Mason but after my second visit there half a year later, I was able to see the place and the delicious menu that it had to offer in a new light, thanks to their oh-so-addictive green curry. Everything that Fumie-san, the owner cook, made from ingredients of the best quality didn’t disappoint and I was always excited to try her new concoctions. I was so sad when she announced the closing because the café had become like another home to me with friendly and caring staff, not to mention healthy nourishment that satiated any kind of appetite I’d have. It might take some time but she is working on opening the café again sometime in the future, so please stay tuned.☺

Coffee & Pancake SARASA押小路Oshikoji (closed as of October 25, 2014)

clockwise from top left: Halka’s “Devil” Calpis drink when we went in mid-May 2012; the view of the rest of the first floor from my seat; Halka’s ホワイトベリーパンケーキwhite berry pancakes,¥800; my “Cupid” Calpis drink; the area in which we sat; the exterior; the restrooms outside; and my フレンチパンケーキFrench pancakes, ¥800

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Coffee & Pancake SARASA押小路Oshikoji was part of the popular さらさSarasa chain and specialized in, yes, pancakes, thin crêpe-like ones. Especially when passing it on weekends, there was always a line, so I was surprised to learn that it closed.

HANDELS VAGEN Kitayama北山店 (closed as of October 31, 2014)

clockwise from top left: the first-floor dining area; the front; メイプルシロップアーモンドmaple syrup almond on the house; cookies on the house because it was my birthday; the choice of ice cream; my small cup of ミント&チョコレートmint & chocolate, ピスタチオpistachio and 苺のチーズケーキstrawberry cheesecake for¥490

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After Laurel, Kim-Chi, Margaret, Nanami , Melinda and Jen got together for dinner on my birthday in 北山Kitayama in 2012, we were heading to another cafe for dessert when we came upon HANDELS VAGEN (named after a street in Stockholm, Sweden); everyone was okay with changing plans. No matter what the size (small or medium), one can choose as many flavors as he wants to pack in his cup or on his waffle cone. There is another shop in Kitaoji北大路 as of spring 2012 as well as the shopping street, Shinkyogoku新京極, as of May 2013,  so it’s still possible to have this delectable homemade ice cream.

Cafe kimidori (closed as of November 20, 2014)

clockwise from top left: the exterior; the counter space lined with baked goods and the seating in the back; the table under the menu board which consists mainly of drinks and sweets; the front of the small café; ハニーローストピーナッツとメイプルのスコープケーキhoney-roasted peanut & maple scoop cake, ¥400, and カフェオレcafé au lait, ¥600, the first time I went; ベーコンエッグマヨトーストbacon-egg-mayonaise toast, ¥500, and チャイchai, ¥600, the second time; りんごとマシュマロのマフィンapple & marshmallow muffin without fresh cream,¥350, for dessert; いちごマフィンstrawberry muffin to go, ¥350; ふわとろ!ハヤシライスソースのオムライス”oozingly fluffy” omelette over rice topped with hashed-beef sauce, ¥750, and アッサム紅茶Assam tea, ¥550, the last day

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I found Cafe kimidori (coming from the owner’s name and the fact that she likes kimidori, or light green) in a magazine at a café, just months before I heard that the café was closing from Eriko-san! I was able to go a total of four times, all in the month of closing, up until the last day. On 四条通Shijo Street close to the 京福電気鉄道Keifuku Electric Railroad (or 嵐電Randen) 西院駅Saiin Station, the small café was one of numerous shops on the same street but a windowed front let any passersby see what was inside before they even entered. With a homey yet stylish interior, it was cozy and probably easy to relax on a slow day but maybe because I went after its closing was announced, the seats were often taken up quickly and many a customer were turned away because there was no place to wait. The owner used to be a pâtissière, so her sweets, especially the various muffins she displayed in jars at the counter, were recommendations. The good news is that she plans to restart the café (I’m not sure if it’ll be in the same place) after she gives birth and life calms down a bit, so there’ll be a day when we get to have her delectable sweets again.☺

flowing KARASUMA (closed as of December 30, 2014)

clockwise from top left: the red brick with cement trimming exterior; the counter of sweets upon entering; the cafe space across from the counter; the dining space next to the cafe space; the rest of the dining space near the kitchen; terrace space; the bread and appetizers for my ランチコースlunch course, ¥1450; my 池帆立貝とピリ辛明太子スパゲッティーニ レモンと大葉風味 lemon & beefsteak plant-flavored scallops & spicy pollack roe spaghettini; and オレンジ風味のパンナコッタ orange-flavored panna cotta and ホットコーヒーhot coffee

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flowing KARASUMA was a café with a menu of Italian base with the luck of occupying the splendid building of a former bank; spacious and swanky, it was often rented as a party space for wedding and other special events. I suggested having lunch there when Akiyo and met for the first time in seven years. The food and dessert was good as well as the coffee, so it’s too bad that I couldn’t go back before they closed. DEAN & DELUCA KYOTO is occupying the building from October 27, 2014 until the end of August 2015.

Caff (closed as of ?)

clockwise from top left: the exterior; the interior; the kitchenware goods; the menu of drinks served at the shop; WEEKENDERS COFFEE’s エチオピアEthiopia, ¥350, in take-out form; and エチオピアEthiopia served in the shop

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Caff was a shop selling simply stylish 有田焼Arita-yaki bone china tableware under HARAGUCHI TOUJIEN that sold coffee and tea served with tools and cups & saucers sold in the shop. For those who are interested in the wares that they used to sell, please check out http://haraguchitoujien.co.jp/ .

cafe diner リズムrhythm (closed as of January 13, 2015)

clockwise from top left: the view of the path up to DECO3 where cafe diner rhythm is on the second floor; the view from my seat in early April 2012; the garden area;  view behind the counter seating; the ガトーショコラとカシスシャーベットgâteau chocolat with cassis sherbet and a ホットカフェオーレhot café au lait for ¥900 that I had for dessert in mid-May 2012; the 海鮮おこげあんかけkaisen okoge ankake (crispy rice with thick seafood sauce) which came with a drink (I ordered アイスウーロン茶iced oolong tea) for ¥900 that I had for lunch in mid-May 2012; the view of the rest of the café from my seat in mid-May 2012; and my ホットチャイhot chai, ¥600, in early April 2012

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cafe diner リズムrhythm was a hip cafe in the middle of the commercial area of Kyoto City where one could find some peace and relax, whether alone or with a friend or two. They served Asian cuisine, mainly Chinese, Korean and Japanese for reasonable prices as well as dessert, cafe drinks and alcoholic drinks. Unfortunately, they closed their doors after 12 and a half years of business; however, the sister shop, 祇園まるまるgion maru-maru, is still going strong in 東山Higashiyama, across from 円山公園Maruyama Park for those who want to grab something to go or rest a bit while in the area.

Gokomachi Very Berry Cafe 御幸町店 (closed as of May 10, 2015)

clockwise from top left: my ハーフパンケーキ(メープルシナモン)half-serviing of pancake with maple syrup & cinnamon and an アイスコーヒーice coffee, ¥820, when I met Woomi in late June 2013; the middle dining area when I went alone in August 2013; the back dining area and kitchen; my ハーフパンケーキ(ストロベリー)half-serving of pancake with strawberry syrup and an アイスティーiced tea, ¥820; my ベーコン・トマト・チーズbacon, tomato & cheese stuffed pancakes, ¥1200, when I went in early March 2014; my ライオンカプチーノcappuccino Lion coffee, ¥360 (¥200 off with the stuffed pancakes); 玉露ショートブレッドクッキーgyokuro (high-quality green tea, the name literally means “jewel-like dewdrop”) shortbread cookie, ¥250, to go; Mason’s スパムミンチロコモコSpam & minced-meat loco moco, ¥950, and my usual チキンポケロコモコchicken poke loco moco, ¥950; the front dining area when I went in August 2013

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My first experience at a Very Berry Cafe in 2006, I was encouraged to go into the Gokomachi Very Berry Cafe after seeing the wide variety of American-style food and drinks on the menu outside and since then, I go there when I crave チキンポケロコモ湖chicken poke loco moco or pancakes and I can’t make it to the Kawaramachi-Nijo one (the Gokomachi one is easier to go to before or after work). Although I’m sad that it closed, I guess I’ll just have to make it over to the Kawaramachi-Nijo one from now on.

eskapi + Luno (closed as of May 26, 2015)

eskapi, from top left going down in order: the exterior; the simple yet charming interior; the table seating and the view of the kitchen (Luno is on the other side); 鶏肉と野菜のクスクスchicken & vegetable couscous; ムスンメンmsemmen, a flaky Moroccan crêpe served with fig jam and honey which I had with どっしりタイプ珈琲dense” type coffee, ¥500; the dining area in the front that ended up serving as Luno; the pretty pink wall area; ショコラ・ド・ショコラchocolat de chocolat, a very rich and creamy chocolate cake that was more like ganache than cake; Cコースcourse, ¥2100, of カオマンガイ・ドードkhao man gai tod (chicken with rice) and ジャスミンティーjasmine tea, ¥500

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Luno, clockwise from top left: the door to Luno; the view of the kitchen from my seat in Luno; although not available in Luno, I wanted to mention the A lunch course at eskapi, ¥1500, that we had to celebrate Maki’s birthday in 2014 which included タブレtaboulé; ピカルディ風グラタンPicardie-style gratin, 自家製パンhomemade bread; gâteau Basque for dessert, with messages from Eriko-san; okay, back to Luno: Rika’s ガトーバスクgâteau Basque, ¥600, and ゆず茶yuzu tea) ¥500, and my 遊園(タンユエン)tan yuan (boiled rice-flour dumplings with sweet black-sesame filling), ¥500, and いちごソーダstrawberry soda, ¥600, when we went in mid-March 2014; ハニーバターケーキhoney-butter cake, ¥210, to go; the seat by the door; and my favorite seat by the window

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Opened in May 2013, eskapi was a hidden treasure of a charming restaurant that served multi-ethnic cuisine; I found everything that I had there to be excellent, from the various dishes and drinks to delectable sweets. For those who weren’t in the mood to eat as much as one can at eskapi, Luno started in the front dining area in April 2014 as a place to relax with coffee and sweets after work, whether for a long while or a brief moment. I was able to indulge in both eskapi + Luno quite a bit, including the last day that they were open, and each time it was pleasant, with time passing slowly in the cozy and peaceful pink area of eskapi or the intimate and exotic yet homey violet environment of Luno that made you forget the rest of the world outside.

Slow cafe BENCH&MUG (closed as of June 22, 2015)

clockwise from top left: the view outside from my seat in late March 2015; my table for two with a view of the street outside; the entrance to the café outside; the view of the entrance area; the fullest view of the tiny café that I took; the counter seating; and iced chai black and green tea and バナナココナッツケーキbanana-coconut cake set

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As one could probably guess from its name, Slow cafe BENCH&MUG was a tiny second-floor café off of 今出川Imadegawa Street accessed by a tiny spiral staircase; taking shoes off before entering the café space, one could relax and feel at home while partaking in a good-for-you and delicious cake as well as quality coffee and tea. Recommended by Katalin, I was lucky to go once before they closed their doors. For those who couldn’t make it, though, good news: a new BENCH&MUG will open in a 町家machiya in 西陣Nishijin within 2016 (preparation taking place as I write this), providing take-out for cake as well as a little space for a quick cake and coffee.

HACOBU KITCHEN (closed as of August 15, 2015)

clockwise from top left: my 日替わりhaco膳: たらのトマトクリーム煮定食daily haco meal of tomato cream-stewed cod which included コールスロー、 生姜おろしのあげだし豆腐、ぬか漬、ベーコンとゴロゴロの野菜スープcoleslaw, deep-fried tofu with grated ginger, brine & fermented rice bran pickles and bacon and chunky vegetable soup, ¥780, when I went in mid-October 2012; my ひよこ豆のドライカレーchickpea dry curry, ¥800, in mid-November 2013; my クッキープレートcookie plate, ¥200, of bean-curd “rock” cookie, 白猫の甘酒クッキーwhite-cat cookie made from sweet fermented-rice drink and two ドライ苺のスノーボールdried strawberry snowballs and アイスオーガニック珈琲iced organic coffee, ¥380, in mid-October when I had lunch with Masayo; the bench seating; the view of the dining area from the bench seating; upon entering the café; the exterior; my 自家製ライ麦ベーグルプレートhomemade rye bagel plate which came with お汁物soup, サラダsalad, 自家製ピクルスhomemade pickles, オムレツomuretsu (omelette) and ベーグル ジャム付bagel with jam, ¥900, in early October 2013; and the甘酒とナッツの米粉ブラウニー:1カットone slice of rice sake & nut-filled rice-flour brownie, ¥200, that I had in mid-October 2012

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When I found out that HACOBU would be closing after three years of service to focus more on catering, I was heartbroken because I often stopped by for a satisfying meal and/or dessert and drink before work and it was a café that I liked to recommend to my health-conscious friends. Although there’s a chance that the café will open again, it’s not certain when that will happen.

TRACTION book cafe (closed as of ?)

from top left going down in order: the name of the café on the wall; table seating; an early dinner of スモークサーモンとクリームチーズベーグルサンドウィッチsmoked salmon and cream cheese bagel sandwich, ¥750, and ホットカフェラッテhot caffè latte, ¥550, in early April 2012; book jackets on the way up the stairs to the café in early September 2012; view of the rest of the front of the café, including the big bookshelf and the simple kitchen area in the back; vivid illustration of shelves with knickknacks; lunch of 今週のごはん:肉じゃがとチーズのオムレツthis week’s TRACTION meal: omelette filled with meat & potato stew and cheese, ¥890, without rice, which came with barley tea, tofu in soy sauce topped with green onions and myoga (Japanese ginger), renkon in a mentaiko sauce, tsukemono, omelette and miso soup; the inside of the omelette; マフィンセットmuffin set of  the daily muffins (アメリカンチェリーAmerican cherry and チョコナッツchocolate & nuts), ¥880, which came with a drink (I chose アイスコーヒーiced coffee)

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With a clean and modern look that made one feel at ease and relaxed, TRACTION book café was a place to which one could escape the hubbub of commercial Kyoto. They also served actual meals as well as the usual café fare, especially some pretty good muffins. I’m no sure exactly when they closed but I noticed the space empty in late summer 2015.

cafe de Naiki (closed as of ?)

clockwise from top left: my ハイビスカスのジュレhibiscus no gelée, ¥580, and ハニージンジャーミルクティーhoney ginger milk tea, ¥500, ¥100 off with dessert, and Mason’sドルチェセットdolce set, ¥800, of ハイビスカスのトライフルhibiscus trifle and コーヒーcoffee when we went in mid-March 2014; the owner’s dog and the cafe’s mascot, でんかDenka, peering out the door; the area near the entrance when I went in early April 2012; the kitchen area; ローズヒップとハイビスカスコッタrosehip & hibiscus panna cotta, ¥600, and  ホットカフェラテhot caffè latte, ¥400;ポルチーニのリゾットporcini risotto, ¥750; and the dining area toward the back

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I was surprised to hear that cafe de Naiki was closed. With a clean and sophisticated look and the photographer owner with a unique aura and his adorable partner in crime, Denka, one’s Kyoto café visit may not be ordinary, in a good way. The satisfying Italian-based cuisine and yummy desserts make one’s hour or two spent there even more worth it.

Té Concepción (closed as of September(?) 2015)

clockwise from top left: the entrance from the inside; appetizers of salad, potato salad & grilled vegetables, tomato sauce-marinated octopus and sweet-potato egg in mid-June 2014; the exterior; スコットzucotto for an extra ¥300 in mid-June 2014; dessert plate that included custard cream cake and 洋梨pear cake with fruit in early October 2012; 前菜appetizers of salad, cabbage roll, potato slices, egg & grilled fish in early October 2012; きのこのテリヤキソースハンバーグhamburger steak in a teriyaki mushroom sauce with a piece of baguette in early October 2012; 和牛フィレ肉のステーキディナーJapanese beef-filet steak dinner,¥1600, in mid-June 2014; the dining area close to the windows

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Té Concepción was a tea salon and café across the street from 東本願寺Higashi Hongan-ji Temple whose afternoon tea was quite popular. The meals were good, too, and the tea excellent. Many tea lovers are probably disappointed with the closing of this salon.

ココカラ Cocokara cafe + dish (closed as of March 12, 2016)

clockwise from top left: table seating next to the entrance; the rest of the dining area; the book area near the entrance; the counter seating; いちごクッキーichigo (strawberry) cookies, ¥300, for the road when Mason and I went in early October 2012; the kitchen area; the exterior; my おばんざいプレートo-banzai plate, ¥880, and アイスマテ茶iced mate cha (tea); and Mason’s hot mate tea

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ココカラ Cocokara cafe + dish was an organic café that served healthy and delicious fare in a cozy environment to the Kyoto community for nine years. I always felt good after eating here and it was a place that I wanted to continue to recommend to my vegetarian friends as well as anyone interested in healthy Kyoto-style food.

Sunshine café (closed as of March 31, 2016)

clockwise from left: the view from the non-smoking section; アボカド豆乳シェイクavocado soy-milk shake, ¥600, in late March 2012; 気まぐれスープランチ(キャベツとじゃがいも“fickle” cabbage and potato soup lunch which came with salad and three kinds of natural yeast bread in late March 2012; shelf with the café’s original teas and other goods next to the cake display case;  ベジタブル塩こうじフライドライスvegetable fried rice flavored by shiokouji (salted rice malt) in mid-June 2012; the view of the smoking section; ロストチキンオープンサンドランチroasted chicken open sandwich lunch, ¥840, in mid-August 2012; アイスビタミネティーiced Vitamine tea in late March 2012; and アーモンドタートalmond tart and a ホットカフェオーレhot café au lait, ¥800, in mid-June 2012

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Sunshine wasn’t only popular due to its convenient location in the 三条名店街Sanjo Meitengai Shopping Arcade but for its delicious vegetarian, vegan and macrobiotic fare, options still hard to find in Kyoto, as well. I always went away satisfied with my orders and the drinks were nice, especially the avocado soy-milk shake which got me hooked on the place.

SOLUM CAFE (closed as of June 2016)

clockwise from top left: the rusk, ¥200, and plum soda, ¥500, that I got in early September 2014; the café furthest in; the exterior; the front of the café; the キーマカレーkeema curry, ¥850, that I had in early September 2014; the プレーンドーナツplain donut, ¥150, and パイナップルフルーツスムージーpineapple fruit smoothie, ¥600, that I had in early August 2014

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マルニアトリエカフェO2 MARUNI CAFE’s sister café, SOLUM CAFE, was eye-catching from the exterior and just as charming on the inside with its gorgeous blue tiled counter. The menu was limited but the deliciousness of every item made up for this. With its limited seating (about four customers at a time!) there was always a chance that one could be turned away but at least then one could get the food and drinks to go.

JAPONICA (closed as of July 10, 2016)

clockwise from top left: looking down at the entrance; the dining/bar area; Caesar salad that Laurel, Kim-Chi, Margaret, Melinda and I had in late June 2012; the fettucine that Laurel, Kim-Chi and Melinda ordered; my アイスルイボスティーiced rooibos tea, ¥500, when Maki and I had dinner in mid-May 2013; 春雨サラダ that Maki and I shared; Maki’s  ベトナム楓イエローカレーVietnamese-style yellow curry, ¥700; Margaret’s basil spaghetti; and my usual, タイ風グリーンカレーThai-style green curry, ¥700

Opened in late April 2006, JAPONICA was music shop on 寺町通Teramachi Street a little north of 御池通Oike Street that not only sold records but was involved in local music events with a global frame of mind. In April 2009 it went through renovation to add a café and bar space to further accommodate music lovers and other customers for good food and drinks as well as serve as a location for parties and events. Besides my order being forgotten once, I was always pleased with the friendly service, good food and chill atmosphere.

松田珈琲店Matsuda Coffee (closed as of summer 2016?)

clockwise from top left: the coffee bean roaster at the front by the entrance; a cup prepared with Yemen beans, ¥500 when I went in mid-March 2015; the side of the counter where I sat; the exterior; another room for those drinking in; the shop’s original blend based on Mandheling called Saffron, ¥500; and a view of the counter from the entrance

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松田珈琲店Matsuda Coffee was a small coffee shop hidden in a neighborhood close to 西院Saiin where the owner who had a penchant for dark roast coffee would serve coffee by nel drip for those who desired as well as roast coffee beans for purchase and delivery as well. I’ll miss talking to him over a cup of coffee but at least I can have his coffee again if I ever make it to 群馬県前橋市Maebashi-shi, Gunma-ken where he reopened shop as of fall 2016.

THAI CAFE Kati (closed as of September 14, 2016)

clockwise from top left: child-friendly with chairs for little ones as well as books; the door to the café; the dining area in the back by the kitchen; more of the dining area in the back, this one closest to the restroom; チャ・マナ(タイの甘いレモンティー) (cha manāw, sweet Thai lemon tea), ¥550, グリーンカレー green curry, ¥900, and ジャスミンライスjasmine rice, ¥300, that I had in late September 2012; the counter seating by the kitchen; the exterior of the café; the bookshelves; and the area looking out on the street

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THAI CAFE Kati was stylish in a traditional Thai way and the perfect environment for having authentic Thai cuisine made by a Thai cook. I first went there four years ago but it had been open for ten more years before that and loved by many of the locals.

ひだまりHidamari (closed as of December 31, 2016)

clockwise from top left: the kitchen and front area; the exterior; Mason’s かぼちゃのベイクドチーズケーキpumpkin baked cheesecake, ¥400, and my 抹茶テ

ィラミスgreen-tea tiramisu, ¥400, with ブレンドコーヒーblended coffee, ¥ 350 in late April 2015; チョコレート羊かんとバニラアイスchocolate yokan (sweet bean jelly) & vanilla ice cream, ¥400, with the blended coffee in early May; the back area looking out on the Japanese-style garden; the middle area; the view of the front from the back 

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ひだまりHidamari is one of the pioneers for machiya cafes in Kyoto from what I hear and wasn’t a disappointment in living up to the image. Spacious with windows that let in plenty of light and breeze during the best of seasons, it was easy to spend countless hours alone or with a friend or two while enjoying the delicious and healthy food and delectable desserts as well as a wide variety of drinks on the reasonably priced menu. Another good café gone but, as one of my favorites of all time, not to be forgotten.

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30 thoughts on “Former Kyoto Cafes

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