微風台南Bifu-Tainan tears2 is a Taiwanese café/restaurant a little north of 丸太町通Marutamachi Street along 河原町通Kawaramachi Street. The owner, Naoki Hiraoka, is also the former owner of Tears, an ethnic café/bar, that used to be on 御幸町通Gokomachi Street north of 蛸薬師通Takoyakushi Street; if I remember what he said correctly, he said he ran the place for about 20 years before opening Bifu-Tainan about half a year ago…which explains the “tears” in the name.☺ The “Bifu-Tainan” part was suggested by a Taiwanese friend of his from 台南Tainan. According to Iori-san, the owner was so busy at his previous establishment that he didn’t have time to talk with the customers, so he was hoping that he’d be able to indulge this time between work.
I first noticed Bifu-Tainan at the end of last year when Maki and I headed to お菓子工房Okashi-koubou sampo after lunch at Gosho-Higashi キッチンゴンKITCHEN GON御所東店…the machiya café/restaurant wasn’t open for business yet but we got the shop card to remind us to drop by when they finally opened. Maki went with another friend not too long after the place opened and said the food was reasonable and good. My chance to go didn’t come until late March this year when Iori-san suggested having dinner there on our day off; by then, Iori-san was already a regular.
the exterior with a red- & navy-blue-striped awning that makes it more like a quaint local joint in Asia, at least to me…at night the café/restaurant lets off a warm glow that invites customers in.
Upon walking in there were two tables for four; the rest of the seating was on tatami at low tables which meant one has to take off his shoes before going up. I was seated at a table for two in the middle of the tatami area.
the charmingly retro view of the area under the staircase in front of me
Past the sliding doors are the garden and the restroom area…since it was winter, there was a kotatsu (a table over a heater for the cold indoors during Japanese winter) out…after a couple of visits, I found that the staff sit there for dinner after business hours.
I arrived on time but Iori-san ended up being about half an hour late…no problem because I kept myself busy with updating my Facebook page, Instagram, blog, etc. When Iori-san finally did arrive, he didn’t see me at first, since I look Japanese from the back according to him. To make up for being late, he arrived with a Pierre Hermé croissant…forgiven.☺ I as well had stopped by sampo to get him some of their canelé after passing some time at kátte.
We ended up moving to the table against the wall at the front.
the view of the entrance area from our table
Loved the lamp by our table!
Iori-san ordered us some 阿里山烏龍茶Arisan oolong cha (tea).
Iori-san got the 割包(グワパウ)gua bao, or pork-belly bun, ￥380, because he wasn’t too hungry (turns out he had some Pierre Hermé before meeting me which explains the croissant).
I wasn’t very hungry either (I had a bit at kátte), so I just got the 棺材板(フルサーロ), guan tsai ban or “coffin board”, a Tainan-origin cuisine of grilled bread filled with stew, ￥500.
Although I got a little nauseous from the well-grilled bread (kind of greasy for me), the stew inside was delicious.
Sano-san, Iori-san’s best friend of five years who takes care of a temple while working, joined us not too long after we switched tables and ended up leaving early because he had to go home to make dinner for his wife and himself which is why he only had some drinks. He and Iori-san get on well, especially due to their love for exquisite sweets; it was quite amusing to see them get so excited talking about sweets (they seem to be calm otherwise). Anyway, Iori-san and I ended up staying until close talking about various subjects.
Iori-san ordered 紅焼 牛肉麺(ハンシャオ ニュウロウミェン) hong shao niu rou mian, or Taiwanese beef noodles without soup, ￥800, while I got the mix version (which includes pork, chicken and shrimp) of 蛋炒飯(ダンチャオファン) dan chao fan, or Taiwanese egg fried rice, ￥600. Iori-san made his order into a set which came with soup and three side dishes for an extra ￥300 and shared the side dishes with me.
The fried rice was so good! I knew I’d be back to have it again with the first spoonful. We stayed until close again (we did get there a little late, though).
When I had dinner with Iori-san and Hasegawa-san at Bifu-Tainan almost a month later, I arrived before everyone else and got the table for four against the wall (this is my favorite seat in the house). When everyone was present, we got to ordering…I thought it was time to finally try the 鶏肉飯(ジーローファン) ji rou fan, or chicken rice, ￥600, plus ￥300 as a set.
Not only was the rice the perfect texture but just as perfectly flavored as the chicken on top…this is now my favorite rice dish there.
As a dessert/drink, I had a 珍珠珈琲zhen zhu cafe, or bubble coffee, ￥500.
After this, I was officially full for the night. We stayed until close…I think this will be the routine as long as I’m there with Iori-san.
Less than a week later, I took Mason there for dinner to see if she’d think the cuisine was authentic; to my delight, we were able to get my favorite seat. I got the fried rice as a set and ordered 蔥油餅(ツォンユーピン)tsung yu bing, or scallion pancake, ￥380, for the first time (see below for a picture). The scallion pancake was absolutely delicious and although it was quite greasy, I didn’t feel bad afterward…I’ll definitely be back for this!
The owner, who knows me as Iori-san’s friend by now, even treated us to some boiled flavored eggs; Mason was quite pleased with it, saying that it reminded her of the eggs in Taiwan.
To my surprise, Iori-san showed up when we were about done with our meal, so Mason got to meet him. We invited him to sit with us although we ended up leaving him because we had plans to stop by Starbucks on our way back but since Bifu-Tainan is like his second home, I’m sure he didn’t mind.
About a month later, I came finally for the first time alone…the place was bustling and I was asked to take the only seat available in the tatami space, a very low counter table, but since my favorite table opened up at the same time, I asked to sit there to which the waiter, the young half-Taiwanese Japanese who served Mason and me before, obliged. A young Taiwanese girl who barely spoke Japanese came to take my order but ended up getting the guy who had shown me to my seat to come answer my questions.
Since I wasn’t too hungry, I just ordered scallion pancake and 蘿蔔糕(ルオポガオ) luo bo gao, or Taiwanese pan-fried radish cakes, ￥450. The radish cakes were savory and like rice cake; I love this, too❤!
A cheerful Taiwanese girl took the place of the half-Taiwanese guy who left before I did; she told me my English and Japanese was very good.☺
Less than two months later, I went back for my first lunchtime visit…the place was quite busy again. I was shown a seat in the middle of the tatami room which afforded me a nice view of the garden. Although the day was fairly cool for the time of year, I was still hot due to my walk from 二条駅Nijo Station…the owner noticed me sweating and turned on the air conditioner, so kind!
I ordered scallion pancake and the smallest size for fried rice (the owner remembered that I like the mix version by now☺). The place cleared out halfway through my meal and I was left alone which gave me a chance to strike up conversation with the owner while he was clearing the tables. He said he plans to add more items to the café menu, like sweets and drinks.
This past week, I asked Lauren to come in and dine with me at Bifu-Tainan. I finally ordered the 蝦仁飯(シャーレンファン) xia ren fan, or Taiwanese shrimp rice in 小shoh, the smallest portion,￥400, with scallion pancake.
This was similar to the chicken rice…I wouldn’t mind having it again.☺
For dessert I got the 愛玉檸檬冰アイユィニンモンピンTaiwanese aiyu-jelly in lemon syrup, プレーンplain, ￥450 (it was sold out the last time I was there for lunch).
Absolutely refreshing and the lemon syrup was perfectly sweet…I’m going to be ordering this again!
For those who want to relax in an atmosphere that takes one back to retro Asia while having reasonably priced and simply delicious food, I definitely recommend this place. I plan to go back when I can, just hope there will be enough seats for me.☺
(The prices mentioned are not tax included.)
Update: About two weeks later, I got a craving for fried rice and scallion pancake again, so I headed to Bifu-Tainan to see if I could grab an early dinner and make it home since I’ve been feeling quite exhausted lately. I arrived an hour before dinner time and decided I’d have dessert while waiting but the kind owner and his wife ended up serving me what I’d come for. Although I had the place all to myself when I arrived, as soon as I got my order, people started trickling in. The fried rice was as delicious as ever and the scallion pancake was extra crispy today, so good!
I tried a new dessert, 檸檬と珍珠豆花トウホァTaiwanese tofu dessert in lemon syrup with tapioca, ￥480 for the lemon version plus ￥80 for the tapioca. The combination of lemon syrup and soy milk-based gelatin was interesting but good, refreshing and creamy at the same time, with the occasional chewy texture of the tapioca. I’d definitely have it again, in other combinations.
Two Taiwanese girls were on staff today, the one whose Japanese was still coming along and the cheerful one that I’ve mentioned before; since they rang me up, I got to talk to them a bit on my way out…very cute girls, I hope they still remember me when I’m back again.☺
Other items to try here:
* 杏仁露シンレンルーshaved ice over almond pudding, ￥519
Address: 〒602-0877 京都府京都市上京区桝屋町Kyoto-fu. Kyoto-shi. Kamigyo-ku. Masuya-cho 359
Telephone number: 075-211-9817
Access: 京阪鴨東線 神宮丸太町駅 徒歩5分minutes from Keihan Oto Line Jingu Marutamachi Station, 京都市営地下鉄東西線 京都市役所前駅 徒歩11分minutes from Kyoto Municipal Subway Tozai Line Kyoto Shiyakusho Mae Station or 京都市営地下鉄烏丸線 丸太町駅 徒歩14分minutes from Kyoto Municipal Subway Karasuma Line Marutamachi Station
Business hours: 12:00-10:00pm (dinner starts from 6:00)
Cafe holiday: Monday
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/bifuutainan?fref=nf