*Found in Former Kyoto Cafes
Being in two of my Kyoto guides, ひだまりHidamari was a machiya café to which I’d been interested in going for about two years before I actually went at the end of last month with Mason. It had always seemed so far away but since I’ve started frequenting the 西陣Nishijin area these days (I’ve discovered that it’s quite accessible for me from JR嵯峨野線円町駅Sagano Line Enmachi Station), it wasn’t so hard to get there after we dropped in 坂田焼菓子店sakata yakigashi ten close by.
Hidamari is found on 五辻通Gotsuji Street next to Guesthouse 木音KIOTO with which it seems to share a wall…from the outside it looks simple yet welcoming (top right picture).
Inside, the café is the whole first floor which was surprisingly spacious with windows that let in plenty of sunshine in the front, the kitchen off to the right with a staircase across from it and a Japanese-style garden in the back where the restroom also is, like typical machiya-style (four pictures on the left side); the seating is cushions on the floor with low tables.
After a voice greeted us from the kitchen, we took our shoes off before stepping up to the tatami dining area.When we arrived, there were no customers and the owner came out to greet us timidly after hearing us speak in English. She admitted to not speaking English very well so when we spoke to her in Japanese, she looked so happy and relieved. It took us a while to order after taking off our shoes and being seated (we chose a seat close to the inner garden) because we took some time to get acquainted with the owner who is originally from the 関東Kanto area but who came to Kyoto about 20 years ago for school and ended up staying (Hidamari has been in business for about 10 years now); we even talked some about cultural differences.
Our conversation was cut when a mother and child arrived after which Mason ordered かぼちゃのベイクドチーズケーキkabocha no, or pumpkin baked cheesecake, ￥400, while I had 抹茶ティラミスmaccha (green-tea) tiramisu, ￥400, with ブレンドコーヒーblended coffee, ￥ 350 (middle right picture).
We gave each other a taste of her dessert: both were rich with each respective flavor and the topping of vanilla ice cream made our desserts even more filling. It took us a while to finish (yeah, we’re slow but that’s okay, we had a lot about which to talk) and when we did, we were the last ones to leave, after continuing our conversation with Michiyo, the owner whose name we knew by now, a bit past closing. She even gave us a couple of packets of cherry-blossom tea that she served at the café as a gift on our way out.
A week later, I walked to ひだまりHidamari for sweets after having a filling meal at branche with Mason (we separated after lunch)…I figured I’d be ready to have a little something by the time I got there since it was far enough to walk to work off lunch. The place was practically empty when I arrived except for a pair of young girls who left way before I did; apparently I had missed the busy lunch rush, yes! At first Michiyo-san didn’t recognize me (I guess it didn’t help that I had cut bangs and highlighted my hair since the first time I came) but when I explained who I was, she was ecstatic that I had come back so soon. I took a seat at the table closest to the front; while chatting with Michiyo-san I ordered the チョコレート羊かんとバニラアイスchocolate yokan (sweet bean jelly) & vanilla ice cream, ￥400, with the blended coffee again (bottom right picture).
I could understand why Michiyo-san said that many regulars find the yokan to be addictive: the texture is yokan but the chocolate flavor makes it an even smoother dessert and the creaminess of the ice cream toned down the sweetness of the yokan making it to be an easy eat. I ate it little by little, savoring each small spoonful.
I was the last customer again and this time due to the rain, I ended up staying two hours after close talking with Michiyo-san while waiting for it to subside…when the rain lightened up, I left but not without receiving some (yummy) wheat bread and baumkuchen as a gift from Michiyo-san for the road.
Two days later, the last day of Golden Week vacation, I dropped by Hidamari again; this time it was nearly a full house but the seat closest to the front was open, so I took a seat there and had the 豆乳くずもちtohnyuu kudzu mochi (soy-milk kudzu-starch cake), ￥400, and the blended coffee. It took a while to finish it because there was more kudzu mochi than I’d expected but whether hot or warm or even cold, it was delicious…for a more gooey texture, I suggest eating it while it’s hot while for a more springy texture, I’d let it cool down some.☺
Although the café was well-occupied with customers until I left, I still had time to chat with Michiyo-san between her work. On my way out we had a conversation with one of the café regulars, Mari-san, who turned out to have lots of sass behind her reserved demeanor; I look forward to see them again soon.☺
Update: A week later, I made it to Hidamari for lunch; Guesthouse KIOTO was hosting an exhibit on public baths and I was thinking of dropping in next door to see it while I was there. When I arrived, there were two girls having lunch at one of the tables in the middle; my favorite seat next to the window was open, so that’s where I sat.
I ordered the たけのこと春やさいの和風カレーtakenoko to haru-yasai no wa-fuu kareh (bamboo-shoot & spring-vegetable Japanese-style curry), ￥500. Multi-grain rice mixed with ground black sesame and the somewhat soupy curry with plenty of vegetables as well as Japanese pickles and topped with bonito flakes, I underestimated how satisfying the curry would be! I took my time savoring each bite while Michiyo-san conversed with me between work.
After eating, I thought going next-door to the guesthouse for a bit would help me digest my food so that I could order coffee and dessert; when I came back, I ordered the pumpkin cheesecake that Mason ordered when we first went with blended coffee. I hadn’t noticed it before when I had a taste of Mason’s but the cheesecake tasted more like the filling of pumpkin pie than cheesecake…it was still tasty nonetheless and although I usually prefer dessert not topped with ice cream, the ice cream made it even yummier.
Mari-san (Michiyo-san told me later that she used to be a kindergarten teacher) came in a couple of hours before close and although there was some space between our tables, we conversed about relationships, comparing Japan and the U.S. with Michiyo-san jumping in when her hands were free. I ended up staying after close chatting with Michiyo-san and although I went home later than I’d hoped, it was still a nice way to spend a day off.☺
Update: A week later, I was back at Hidamari for a quick lunch before heading next-door to Guesthouse 木音KIOTO to get a volume of public baths I purchased when I attended ひつじがのぞいた銭湯Hitsuji-ga-Nozoita-Sento’s 京都女湯展Kyohto Onna-Yu (Kyoto’s Women Public Baths Exhibit)’s the week before signed…this time, I went with やさいいっぱいのトマトスープyasai-ippai no tomato suupu (chunky vegetable soup), ￥600, which I had with 自家製全粒粉のパンjikasei zenryuufun no pan (homemade wheat bread). It was sweet, probably from all the vegetables one can find in it and the perfect meal to have after my hot walk over from Enmachi Station; the bread was soft and chewy, just to my liking. This time I didn’t get to stay very long but she and I have plans to meet up after her English test next weekend, so we’ll catch up more then.☺
Some other items on the menu that I’ve had since then:
Address: 京都市上京区五辻通六軒町西入ル溝前町Kyoto-shi. Kamigyo-ku. Gotsuji-dori. Rokken-cho. Nishi-hairu. Mizomae-cho 100-99
Telephone number: 075-465-1330
Access: 京福北野白梅町駅より徒歩15分minutes by foot from Keifuku Kitano Hakubaicho Station or 市バス203バス停「上七軒」municipal bus 203 stop “Kami-Shichiken”…just parking for bicycles although there are probably
Business hours: 10:00am-6:00pm
Cafe holiday: Sunday