*Found in Former Kyoto Cafes
SOLUM CAFE, sister café to マルニアトリエカフェMalni Atelier Cafe on 五条通Gojo Street, is a café on the first floor of a renovated machiya that serves as the office space for creators who want to help improve Kyoto an even better city. The name of the café comes from the latin word for the upper layers of the soil profile where topsoil forms.
The first time I went in search of the café was at the end of July when I went from work going south on 新町通Shinmachi Street but I got lost and ended going home because it was too hot to be wandering around. A couple of days later, I finally found it going north on Shinmachi Street from 京都駅Kyoto Station; I had researched before going and hadn’t found their holiday, so I’d assumed they were open but they were closed that day. A tourist-like couple was checking out the café when I arrived but when they saw me fail to go in, they left. Several days later when I went to 津久間紙店Tsukuma Paper Shop, which is on Shinmachi close to the small street that one turns on to get to SOLUM CAFE, for work, I realized I could use this shop as a landmark in finding the café…since then I’ve never lost my way there. The first time I was able to experience the café was in early August.
The houses in the area are of subdued colors, so it’s easy to spot the vividly colored café (top right picture); the white door is the entrance to the café while the brown door leads to the rest of the building. There are cute seats made from bike saddles outside for having a quick bite or drink…all the menu items are available for take-out as well.
The inside of the café (with a similar color theme as the exterior) is small, about the size of a room, half of it the kitchen and half of it a counter for four people (top center picture & center right picture); the blue-tiled table is the highlight of the place.
I was the only customer upon arrival, so I chose the seat furthest in. The café is manned alone by the reserved manager who had just finished a batch of donuts (the donuts are pretty popular these days).
In such a compact space it wasn’t hard to read the small menu on the wall next to the door for when one didn’t read the boards outside. I wasn’t very hungry because of the heat, so I just ordered a プレーンドーナツplain donut, ￥150 (￥162 with tax), and a パイナップルフルーツスムージーpineapple fruit smoothie, ￥600 (￥648 with tax) (bottom left picture). A plain donut covered with sugar, it was simply good; the two other options are glazed and custard cream-filled. One can choose the base of the smoothie from three flavors which change with the season but I was made one with pineapple sherbet (maybe they had run out of other flavors?)…however, it was thick and refreshingly delicious, so I had no complaints although pineapple isn’t one of my favorite fruit flavors.
Not too long after I had placed my order, another customer arrived who ended up announcing that she wanted to do a review on the café for which she and the manager exchanged information and made an appointment for a day. After she left, I finally got to ask the manager about the café holiday which is Tuesday, in accordance with Malni’s schedule which is why it wasn’t open the last time I came (any other holidays will be announced on their Facebook page or Twitter account).
My second time back was earlier this month when I stopped by for a quick bite before going home…this time I ordered キーマカレーkeema curry, ￥850 (￥918 with tax), and 梅ソーダume (Japanese plum) soda, ￥500 (￥540 with tax) (bottom right picture). The curry wasn’t like keema curry that I’ve had before (my image is heavier, semi-dry-like); although the taste would definitely be considered curry, I felt there was a bit of the Sichuan dish, mapo dofu, which I love in the taste…what I’m trying to say is that this curry was unique AND delicious, especially because it was accompanied by brown rice, light yet filling. The plum soda which was served to me before the curry was absolutely yummy (sorry, that was my first thought), made with homemade syrup, and just the drink to quench my thirst; the whole plum included in the drink was the perfect way to finish the drink and meal.
I was the only customer except for one who came by for some coffee to go, so I got to talk to the manager. I told her I would write about SOLUM soon. We also talked about cafes and when I learned that she lives past 荒神口Koujinguchi, I recommended kàtte.
The キャラメルラスクcaramel rusk, ￥200 (￥216 with tax), had piqued my interest since the last time I was here, so I finally indulged in a bag. The rusks were one treat that was better than my expectations being the perfect hardness (crispy and melts in one’s mouth in the end) and covered with an amazing caramel glaze. I was so pleased that I went back the next day to grab another bag…since it was so hot, I needed the plum soda again to keep me cool while I walked to HACOBU KITCHEN for lunch before work. (top left picture)
Now that I’ve finished writing this post, I’m in the mood for some more curry, drinks and rusks again… I’ll probably pay a visit soon.☺
Update: As of June 2016, SOLUM CAFE closed its doors for the time being and now in its place as of July 24th is CAFE ポルボロンPolvorón which also won’t disappoint.
Address: 京都市下京区東若松町Kyoto-shi. Shimogyo-ku. Higashi Wakamatsu-cho 795-2
Telephone number: 070-5266-9357
Access: 地下鉄烏丸線五条駅から518m、徒歩about 7分minutes by foot from Subway Karasuma Line Gojo Station, 京都駅徒歩about 10分minutes from Kyoto Station
Business Hours: 12:00-7:00pm (ordering stops at 6:00pm)
Café Holiday: Tuesday…for irregular holidays, check Facebook or Twitter accounts
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/SOLUM-CAFE/1557433621150033
Twitter account: https://twitter.com/SOLUMCAFE