When I saw one of まつはMatsuha’s meal in a magazine last year, I immediately put it on my lists of cafes to visit sometime, especially because it’s in an area that I often frequent. However, not too soon after I heard about it, Fumie-san went herself and didn’t have a rave review about it, so I kind of put it off for the time being, easy to do with visiting my favorite cafes and new establishments popping up all the time. I remembered it again recently when Iori-san recommended that I go there, so it was on the forefront of my mind when I made it into the city early today (I even had time to walk there from 二条駅Nijo Station) to arrive at the café on 二条通Nijo Street, east of 富小路通Tominokoji Street, a little past noon. A guy arrived a little after I did but since he came by bike and had to park it, I was able to enter first.
Besides the Japanese-style meal that I faintly remember seeing in the magazine and that customers had to take their shoes off when dining, I had very little information on the place. After entering it still seemed okay to keep our shoes on because foyer space was bigger than I’d thought with the kitchen area and the dining space toward the back.
the view of the kitchen area in the middle and the dining space in the back
One of the courteous and lady-like owners (I hear that two sisters run the establishment) came out to the foyer to greet me and to tell me that due to reservations they were full at the moment but that I could wait in case a party left early. Since I had time and was already loving the calm, natural and charming atmosphere inside, I decided to wait at which I was shown to a bench in front of the kitchen.
the view of the kitchen from the bench
The guy who came in after me was told the same thing; he ended up leaving.
While I waited, I was able to take pictures (after I asked if I could; as long as I didn’t take pictures of other customers…). I even got to chat a bit with the owners during which I mentioned that Iori-san had advised that I must go…I don’t know if this name-dropping got me the tea that they generously offered me for my wait but it still warmed my heart.☺
I waited 30 minutes before a pair of young mothers and their babies left and I kind of had an idea as to why they didn’t stay longer: the tatami space where I was seated was pretty raised off the floor and there was a dug-out space where there were two simply decorated tables separating my seat from the windows that afforded me a view of the garden outside (the restroom is out there, too). My table was tiny, like the size of a small tray, and it was easy to predict that I’d have to bend over to partake in my meal…thank goodness there was a low wall behind me in to which I could lean in case I got tired of maintaining proper posture.
There was a more spacious horigotatsu-style table that shared the tatami space with the area in which I sat (divided by the low wall) and two tables with chairs for two along the tatami area where one could keep his shoes on; four female customers had reserved both these tables and arrived only several minutes before I was seated…of course they had placed orders before me, so I expected to wait a while to be served but my food came sooner than I expected (before that, I was provided with tea and a wet towel which is one of the things I love best about Japanese hospitality in most eating establishments).
my 一汁三菜ichiju-sansai (“one soup, three sides”) which came with 白和えshira-ae (salad dressed with tofu, white sesame & white miso), 高野豆腐Kohya-dofu (Koya (freeze-dried) tofu), 新馬鈴薯と蛸の練り物shin-bareisho to tako no nerimono (new-Bareisho potato & octopus cake), 貝柱の吸い物kaibashira no suimono (dried-scallop soup) and そぼろごはんsoboro gohan (rice topped with minced egg)
I’m not a fan of Koya tofu but since there wasn’t much, it was an easy eat…besides that, I loved everything because the flavor wasn’t too strong but tasty nonetheless, not to mention that the texture of the rice was just perfect for me, a little on the hard side (but still plump) so that I can recognize each kernel while chewing.
Since I had waited quite a while and had to be at work, I stayed long enough to finish my meal but I definitely want to come back when I have more time to relax and have a drink (hopefully I can get any other table except the one that I had this time around) and revel more in the atmosphere.☺