After seeing 鳥の木珈琲Tori no Ki Coffee in a magazine and on the October 4th airing of “LIFE～夢のカタチYume no Katachi (Shape of Dreams)～” on ハマ珈琲Hama Coffee in 大阪Osaka, I put it on my list of cafes to visit (I’m never getting to the end of this list). Based on the word 集うtsudou, or to congregate/assemble, the café was named “Tori no Ki”, meaning “bird’s tree”, in the hopes that people will gather to rest their wings for a bit or as long as they will at the small little café. Valuing craftsmanship of both pros and amateurs, the owner considers three places in Japan her home and goods from those places can be seen, and are even on sale, there.
Based on the pictures I’ve seen and the very brief excerpt of the café on “LIFE”, I had expected a machiya-style café but it was clean and actually quite modern with antique tastes on the first floor of an apartment complex.
Besides a table for four and two tables for two, about two people can sit at the counter…the two times that I’ve gone it seems that regulars are more likely to sit there. And the regulars, especially the older men, are quite friendly, appearing like the owner’s family or friends: my second visit, one gentleman noticed that I was a little hot from my walk over and cracked the doors open for me while another gentleman thanked me along with the owner when I left.
The coffee-bean roaster from Hama Coffee is behind the owner in the picture below; the owner of Hama Coffee made it from scratch with his brother! When I first went late Saturday afternoon last weekend, there was one other staff member besides the owner but when I went several days later in the evening less than two hours before close, the owner was manning the place alone.
a shelf of reading materials as goods on sale from the three hometowns of the owner
My first visit was with Jennifer after we had dropped by 京都御所の一般公開Kyoto Gosho General Public Opening…of course I had to order the キャロットケーキcarrot cake, ￥300, and 鳥の木珈琲ブレンドTori no Ki blended coffee, ￥280 (￥100 off with dessert) when I saw them on the menu!
Jennifer ordered the same things and our orders came on plates and in cups and saucers resembling those on sale…the owner says she always makes sure to use different cups for each customer, especially in a group, to experience variety.
It was love at first taste with the carrot cake: I felt like having another of the rich and moist cake even before the second bite. The coffee had a deep flavor and was very easy to drink and especially complemented the cake. Jennifer was also pleased with her coffee experience there.☺
I was so pleased that several days later I invited Hasegawa-san who had also been wanting to go to join me for some ドライカレーdry curry there after work. I arrived first and explained the situation to the kind and gentle owner who was not opposed at all to me waiting without ordering. I asked about dry curry and to my dismay I was told that they were out of curry for the day. Since Hasegawa-san doesn’t have a cell and was probably on her way to Kyoto from work, I occupied myself for about half an hour with magazines on Kyoto until she arrived and I could explain the situation to her.
Hasegawa-san wasn’t opposed to having coffee and cake before having dinner elsewhere (we decided on culotte which isn’t too far away and where there’d be curry for sure), so she ordered the same things I did when I first came while I had the carrot cake again and ケニアコーヒーKenya coffee.
With only three tables, the most comfortable seats for relaxing alone or with a friend, the place can fill up fast; I hope I’ll always be lucky enough to get a seat when I drop by.
When we were being rung up, I mentioned to the owner that I write a blog on Kyoto cafes and asked if she would be opposed to me writing about them; of course she said she’d be pleased if I would write about Tori no Ki, so here it is.☺
Update: The next week, I left home earlier than usual to go to Tori no Ki and have the dry curry. When I arrived, what was becoming my usual table by the wall furthest in was open and that was where I was shown. The owner remembered me and thanked me for coming last week; she was surprisedly pleased when I told her that I had already written about the café in Hitori Kyoto…after paying, I gave her a piece of paper with the address so that she could search for it later online.
Of course there was curry but there was a ten-minute wait for the rice, 新米shinmai, or “new rice” meaning the first crop of the season, to finish cooking before she could prepare the meal, and there were two other customers waiting as well…I overheard her conversation with another customer who ordered some that it was from her parents who grew it themselves. Of course I didn’t mind the wait, so I put my order of ドライカレー～焼きたまごのせdorai kareh ~yaki-tamago-nose (dry curry topped with fried egg…I added a drink set (coffee) for a total of ￥1000; the egg was an extra ￥100. The owner did the honors of topping my curry with the egg, ” 熱いのでatsui no de (because it’s hot),” she said…I’m beginning to see that the owner is the opitome of gentle kindness.☺
The curry was delicious even without me being ravenous by then; the minced meat and almost sweet and slightly spicy curry flavor could get addictive (the fried egg is a keeper☺).
Of course I had to order carrot cake again to have with my coffee…I was about two-thirds through with it when Fumie-san came by after finding out that I was there because she was in the neighborhood. I was ecstatic to see her, especially because this was her first time since the place was closed last week when we dropped by after J’aime le bleu. She also ordered the carrot cake and had the blended coffee with it; after interacting with the owner, Fumie-san also concluded that the owner was a sweet person. Three seals of approval from friends with whom I’ve gone until now, probably the first of a continuation of approvals to come.
Update: About a month and two weeks later, I decided Tori no Ki would be the best place to lunch before heading to the 四条河原町Shijo Kawaramachi area to do some shopping. When I arrived, the only place to sit was at the counter. I was hoping to move to a table once one opened up but someone came right when one would open and I lost my chance a couple of times (boo!). Luckily, I found a way to sit comfortably enough on the high stool seat and I got down to reading the new edition of Leaf which included Tori no Ki and 喫茶オルガンcafe Organ as well as quite a few other cafes and shops I’ve covered in this blog. Right before my dry curry came, a male customer who seemed to be a regular came and ended up sharing the counter space with me…a reserved but personable man, it didn’t take long before we started talking (brought on by the magazine I was reading). I found out his name was Harada-san and that he was living in Osaka although he’s originally from Kyoto. We discussed Japanese culture, comparing it with American culture, mainly education. I didn’t get to stay too long because I needed to get to the shops before they closed but I’m sure I’ll run into him there some other time. I introduced him to my blog and he said he’d check it; I hope he’ll use it as a reference for other places to try in Kyoto.☺
Before I left, I got a カフェオレcafé au lait to go; although I’m sure it was more expensive than black coffee (it’s not written as an option on the menu, though), the owner, Kawamura-san, only charged me ￥200 with my meal like with black coffee.
I’m beginning to see what an angel she is: two weeks ago when I went with Hasegawa-san and Russel Wong, a renown Singaporean photographer who has kept up with my blog recently, she gave me (and Hasegawa-san who was with me) a Japanese sweet that was absolutely delicious (and I’m not a fan of manju) because she was so appreciative of me introducing the café to so many people…when the owner is as sweet as she is, it’s definitely my pleasure.☺
Update: Almost four months after my last visit, I thought Tori no Ki Coffee’s dry curry and carrot cake (and of course their coffee, too!) would be just the thing to cheer me up after a pretty blah day and headed there by foot after work after calling and confirming there was still enough curry for me. I hit up a few people about meeting but only Fumie-san was up for meeting and I didn’t see her response until I was on my way there.
Kawamura-san was expecting me, of course, and greeted me warmly when I entered and offered me the only table available, the two-seater table at which I often sit against the wall. She was concerned that I was hot after my walk over and asked me if I wanted something cool to drink but I decided to order once Fumie-san arrived.
Although I had only confirmed curry for one, luckily there were enough for two people (Kawamura-san put up a sign outside announcing the curry being sold out after we ordered)…her first time having it, Fumie-san was pleased with the spiciness of the curry. When I met Kawamura-san at kàtte over two weeks before, she had mentioned that sometimes she tops udon with the curry when there’s no more rice; I told her I was interested in having curry & udon sometime.☺
I had アイスコーヒーiced coffee, ￥400, after the meal with carrot cake while Fumie-san just got the blended coffee.
There were no syrup to sweeten my coffee but it was still good, especially with the carrot cake. And some fun conversation, sometimes including Kawamura-san, made the visit even sweeter; my blah day definitely ended on a fun note.☺
Update: Almost four months since my last visit, I arrived to find only the four-seater open but 仕方ないshikata nai (it can’t be helped), that’s where I sat; however, I made sure to have the full course of curry and coffee and carrot cake ☺. There was a moment when all the customers cleared out; that’s when I took a shot of the area where I sat the first time few times I came to Tori no Ki.
This day I got to know Nanako-san, originally from the 四国Shikoku area, who is a regular of Tori no Ki as well as has experience working there as a part-timer; she’s also in the know about eating establishments in Kyoto, so we had plenty to talk about. Going in alone and coming out with a new friend, that’s what Kyoto café life has in store sometimes.☺
Other things on the menu that I’ve had:
Address: 〒604-0815 京都府京都市中京区夷川通東洞院東入る山中町Kyoto-fu. Kyoto-shi. Nakagyo-ku. Ebisugawa-dori. Higashinotoin Higashi-hairu Yamanaka-cho 542 モア御所南More Gosho-minami１階F
Telephone number: 090-6667-0499
Access: 京都市営地下鉄烏丸線 丸太町駅から歩いて6分minutes by foot from Kyoto Subway Karasuma Line Marutamachi Station or 京阪神宮丸太町駅から歩いて15分minutes by foot from Keihan Jingu Marutamachi Station…no parking but there are car parks nearby.
Business hours: 8:00am-8:00pm (orders stop at 7:00)
Cafe holiday: Wednesday and every third Sunday…any other holidays will be announced on their website.