御中MINAKA is a sophisticated reformed machiya on 万寿寺通Manjuji Street (one street north of 五条通Gojo Street), west of 高倉通Takakura Street. I often pass by it on my way to and from work since it opened in mid-April 2012 but it had always appeared too intimidating to enter: I always imagined rich older Kyoto ladies having expensive dainty desserts and drinks while they chatted quietly inside and I wasn’t quite sure if I’d fit in with such a crowd much less be welcomed in…okay, I know I’m overthinking things but it’s quite possible in a few places in Kyoto.
Since it had been on my mind for a while to drop in sometime, I finally did so an hour before work today.
I opened the wooden sliding door upon which a subdued voice behind a noren that separated the foyer from the rest of the café called out to let me know someone was around…soon the owner of the voice, a calm older woman of artsy sophistication came to greet me and tell me to take my shoes off before entering.
the foyer area
the gallery of wares on sale at the front next to the foyer
the area between the foyer, the gallery, the kitchen and the salon
the salon with a garden in the back…the restroom is out in that area, machiya-style.
a closer look at the counter space
I just fell in love with the sophisticated retro interior; the mix of Western and Japanese style is just fantastic! And the chairs all looked so comfy that I regretted not coming when I had more time to relax and bask in the charming atmosphere. I found out that the place turns into a bar at night and serves small dishes to go with alchohol; I don’t drink but it would be nice to come have a bit to eat then, though, especially because it would be so cozy at night.
I was surprised at how reasonable the café menu was. After conferring with the owner, I ordered a ブレンドコーヒーblended coffee, ￥450, 抹茶くりーむちーず三笠maccha kuriimu-chiizu mikasa (green-tea cream-cheese mikasa), ￥250, and シンプルチーズケーキ”simple”, or regular cheesecake, ￥300.
The cheesecake had lemon flavoring making it a bit tart than most cheesecake but it was so good with the coffee. The mikasa was the highlight for me…in case one’s not familiar with a mikasa, it’s what a どら焼きdorayaki is often called in the Kansai area. A dorayaki is two round & flat sponge cakes with red-bean paste in the middle but in this case the mikasa was filled with green tea-flavored cream cheese…just heavenly, made even better by the moist and perfectly sweet cake.
Since I was the only customer for a while, I asked if I could take pictures while she prepared my order and she said I was welcome to do so. Halfway through my stay, a group of five jolly older women swung by for tea time; one of them was familiar with MINAKA and had brought the crew. They were so excited checking out the place and when they noticed me watching them, they invited me to join in, haha! Although I had to be on my way, I waited until the owner got everyone’s order out before paying. The owner gave me a shop card and told me that the café had a Facebook page. I told her I wanted to write about the café in my blog and she happily encouraged me to do so, so here it is.☺
Address: 〒600-8405 京都市下京区万寿寺通高倉西入ル中之町Kyoto-shi. Shimogyo-ku. Manjuji-dori. Takakura Nishi-hairu. Nakanomachi 88
Telephone number: 075-342-4868
Access: 地下鉄烏丸線五条駅から徒歩5分minutes by foot from Subway Karasuma Line Gojo Station
Business hours: cafe- 11:30am-5:30pm, bar- 6:00-11:00pm
Cafe holiday: Tuesday night
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/minaka.kyoto