Opened in late November 2013 under the Kyoto music school of 40 years, MusicPlan, Whole Food Cafe Apprivoiser is a small café on 河原町通Kawaramachi Street south of 松原通Matsubara Street. The cafe’s concept is providing healthy food and drinks made simply from organic ingredients without letting any part go to waste.
I had noticed this café before but within passing since I was always in a hurry to get somewhere, so I was never able to stop in. However, in mid-December last year, less than a month ago, I decided it would be the best place to have dinner before heading home after half a day of work, some relaxation at Café Violon and right after failing to find 喫茶Kissa・Gallery mizuca, a café which should have been nearby.
welcoming and warm exterior which reminded me of grade school back in the States for some reason…customers who want to come by with their pets are welcome to sit outside to be served.
Even before entering, I could see that the place was empty…no problem at all since I like having an establishment to myself.☺
the area by the door…I sat at the table closest to the front window.
the rest of the café from my seat…the door next to the kitchen (beside it is a rack of goods on sale) leads to the restroom and the rest of the building. There are two floors to the café, the first being the dining area; the second floor, Live Studio Apprivoiser, is used for live music performances.
Either I was very quiet when coming in and/or the staff was really busy in the kitchen (there was a baby there, too, probably the child of one of the staff)…after getting settled I called out to the staff. A friendly young woman came over with a menu apologizing for not having noticed me; she appeared to be the only one on hand.
There were several options for meals on the menu as well as a good list of drinks including organic coffee, juice and tea and sweets including scones, muffins, cakes and tarts (FYI: the prices on the menu are tax-excluded). The 今日のごはんkyoh no gohan (today’s meal), ￥1000 (￥1080 with tax), was the most appealing, so I ordered that…the meal consisted of 大豆の唐揚げ～塩麹ポン酢かけdaizu no karaage ~shiokoji ponzu-kake (fried soy meat with shiokoji-ponzu dressing), 仙台揚げ麩煮Sendai agefu-ni (stewed Sendai fried fu, or wheat gluten), キヌア入りキャロットラッペkinua-iri kyarotto rappe (carrot rappé with quinoa), 安納芋グラタンAnnoh-imo guratan (Anno sweet-potato au gratin), 塩麹の味噌汁shiokoji no miso-shiru (shiokoji miso soup) and 玄米genmai (brown rice).
The meal met my expectations in quantity and flavor. The light, tangy dressing was a nice accent for the fried soy meat, making it a lighter eat than most fried food can be. The Sendai fu was stewed in a light sukiyaki-like flavor; you can probably imagine what the carrot and sweet potato was like (I especially liked the carrot by the way!). The miso soup was full of vegetables and could have been a main dish itself; the shiokoji gave it a flavor that reminded me of 粕汁kasujiru (soup made with sake lees). And the brown rice was the perfect flavor and texture, made even better by the topping of ごま塩goma-shio (sesame & salt).
I took so long to eat that I ended up taking a グリーンスムージーgreen smoothie, ￥400 (￥432 with tax, ￥200 off with the meal), to go instead of having it there.
There was a nice friendly woman who came after me in the middle of my meal to have some coffee and sweets; it was her first time, too, having come upon the place by chance from what I could tell of her conversation with the staff member. I as well talked with the young woman who served me after the customer had left: her name is Aya and she’s originally from Okinawa. She’s married to Kyoto-born and -raised Kensuke and the baby in the kitchen is her son whom she watches while working. When I told her about my blog and that I want to write about Apprivoiser sometime, she immediately found the Hitori Kyoto Facebook page and “liked” it to keep up with my posts.
We tried to get her son to give me my change when I was paying but his fingers weren’t developed enough to grip the coins, so he ended up dropping it and we had to go after the coins (oops!☺)
Meals are available for take-out as well (it’s recommended that it be ordered the day before desired, though). I definitely want to drop by for lunch or dinner sometime with the place being so close to where I work or take advantage of taking the meals to go.
Update: A month later, I had an opportunity to go back to Apprivoiser when Rika requested having a healthy dinner together. We arrived separately about the same time and since there were no other customers besides us, we were able to choose any seat…Rika suggested a table close to the kitchen.
Today, Kensuke-san, was working as well (the couple usually works together); he did most of the serving except for Aya-san coming up at least once to greet me…that’s when I introduced Rika…there was an instant bonding when they found out they were the same age.☺
Since I had recommended the daily meal, Rika got that, as I did as well. The meal consisted of pretty much the same things I had last time except there was a another lighter stewed dish and a 納豆natto, or fermented-soybean, dish for the side dishes and the fried soy meat was accompanied with tofu-mayonaise (yum!). Although I’ll never be a fan of natto, I found the meal to be as satisfactory as the last; Rika was impressed as well.
I was full, so I opted for the 季節のスムージーkisetsu no sumuujii (seasonal smoothie) (same price as the green smoothie), now of a みかんmikan, or Mandarin orange, -base, while Rika ordered the 食後のスイーツとドリンクのセットshokugo no suiitsu to dorinku no setto (after-meal sweets & drink set),￥450 (￥486) with the meal…Rika chose 紅茶kohcha (tea) as her drink and the dessert plate which is due to change included a small パーフェpahfe (sundae) made with homemade 黒糖kokutoh, or brown-sugar, ice cream and granola and a piece of ガトーショコラgâteau au chocolat.
I like how the tea came with real milk (quite a few establishments serve creamer) and Rika let me have some of her ice cream which was quite rich and just the right amount of sweetness. I took a gâteau au chocolat home for ￥150 (￥162 with tax), so I didn’t need to have a bite of Rika’s to know how scrumptious it was (too bad it was such a small size!)…let’s just say this gâteau au chocolat reminded me of a mix between a gâteau au chocolat and a brownie in taste and texture.☺
Update: Over a week later, I dropped by Apprivoiser for my first lunch experience before heading into work; I sat in the middle two-seater against the wall.
Aya messaged me about some English phrasing the day after my last visit; apparently it had been for an English flier they plan to pass out eventually and I got to see it today…there were still some grammatical errors but quite comprehensible…I offered to help them with the English in the menu since they mentioned wanting to redo it and they’re going to take me up on the offer.☺
I ordered today’s meal again: this time, the fried soy meat was prepared in a light sweet-and-sour style and the meal was accompanied by salad, potatoes au gratin and stewed vegetables and 白菜hakusai (Chinese cabbage) miso soup; every thing was flavored perfectly again. I decided to have the after-meal sweets & drink set which came with gâteau au chocolat and ラム酒漬けドライフルーツのパウンドケーキramushu-dzuke dorai-furuutus no paundo kehki (rum-soaked dried-fruit pound cake); for my drink I got a 豆乳カフェオレtohnyuu kafe ore (soy milk café au lait) in a to-go cup because I wouldn’t have time to leisurely drink it at the café. The gâteau au chocolat was, of course, as delicious as I remembered it (wish it had been bigger!) and the pound cake was surprisingly a wonderful treat (surprisingly because I don’t like rum-soaked anything). I’ll have to drop by more often.☺
Update: Two weeks after my last visit, I went in for lunch again when I found HACOBU KITCHEN (it was the first option I came upon on my way to work) full. There was one customer sitting in the middle two-seater who seemed to waiting for her order. I took the two-seater closest to the kitchen.
I asked Kensuke-san about the main dish for the meal before ordering it…”today’s meal” consisted of the main of 蓮根の雑穀のはさみ揚げrenkon no zakkoku no hasami-age (multi-grain-stuffed lotus roots and sides of 麹納豆kohji nattoh (koji natto), キャッロトラッペcarrot rappé and 切り干し大根kiriboshi daikon (a dish of thinly sliced, dried radish) as well as the usual shiokoji miso soup and brown rice topped with sesame and salt. I still don’t like the smell of natto but I’m getting used to eating it, thanks to Apprivoiser. Everything was perfectly flavored again and the lotus root was absolutely delicious and with a delightful crunchy texture. Although I’m not satisfied with meals without meat, this was one of the exceptions.
I didn’t have much time, so I got a gâteau au chocolat to go as well as a ラズベリーキャロットマフィンraspberry-carrot muffin, ￥320 (￥346 with tax)…it was warm when they gave it to me.
Update: About a month later, I stopped by for a quick dinner before heading to 東山花灯路Higashiyama Hanatouro. I chose “today’s meal” because the main dish wasn’t soy meat but 豆腐ハンバーグのハーブたっぷりのトマトソースかけtohfu hambahgu no hahbu tappuri no tomato sohsu-kake (tofu Hamburg steak topped with herb tomato sauce). The side dishes were the usual yummy carrot rappé, 焼きなすの味噌和えyaki-nasu no miso-ae (grilled eggplant dressed in miso), かき揚げkaki-age (vegetable fritter), 椎茸とお麩と油揚げのベジブロス味噌汁shiitake to o-fu to abura-age no bejiburosu (shiitake-mushroom, wheat-gluten-bread & fried-tofu veggie-broth miso soup) and brown rice. I would consider this the best meal at Apprivoiser thus far. The Hamburg steak had a nice texture and had enough flavoring but was still better enhanced by the tomato sauce (and I don’t like most tomato sauce). The eggplant was well flavored and a wonderful complement for the rice. And while a lot of kaki-age are sickeningly greasy, this one was such a delight to eat that I didn’t want it to end. The soup was full of so many ingredients that it was a fun eat, of course tasty, too.
Aya said that she’s experimenting with veggie broth now; she even showed me parts of vegetables that most people throw away that she was drying for the base of veggie broth.
A week before, I had been by for dinner and to check out the new English version of the menu that I translated; among the customers was a couple visiting Kyoto, so I think the English menu came in handy. As I looked through the menu, I was a little disappointed to see that there were still errors that I know I corrected but at least the English was comprehensible for non-Japanese speakers now. For doing the translation, I got a free drink on the house which I got to go.
Aya was alone with Yusei (finally found out her son’s name, and he’s not even one yet although he’s quite big) then, so I got to talk a bit more in-depth with her since I was the last customer of the night. It turns out that Kensuke’s parents own the music school and Aya was asked to take charge of the café because she has a cooking license. If Yusei can get in to a nursery school to which they applied, then they could run the café without any worries but Aya said she’d be sad being away from him for so long everyday. I hope everything works out to satisfaction for her.
Address: 〒600-8028 京都市下京区河原町通松原下ル植松町Kyoto-shi. Shimogyo-ku. Kawaramachi-dori. Matsubara-sagaru. Uematsu-cho 716
Telephone number: 075-351-6251
FAX number: 075-371-5077
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Access: 京都市バス河原町松原すぐsoon from Kyoto Municipal Bus Stop Kawaramachi Matsubara, 京阪清水五条駅より徒歩5分minutes by foot from Keihan Kiyomizu Gojo Station, 阪急河原町駅より徒歩10分minutes by foot from Hankyu Kawaramachi Station or 地下鉄烏丸線五条駅より徒歩15分minutes by foot from Subway Karasuma Line Gojo Station
Business Hours: 8:00am-7:00pm
Cafe holiday: Monday
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cafeapprivoiser