Opened in May 2014, 喫茶上るKissa Agaru is a small night (they open 5:00-11:00pm) machiya café on 西木屋町通Nishi-Kiyamachi Street, north of 仏光寺通Bukkoji Street. For a good part of last year, I put it on my list of cafes to visit and although I’ve passed by the place while walking through Kiyamachi Street to go home several times this year, I didn’t get around to dropping in until late September this year after shopping in the central area before going home by 京都駅Kyoto Station.
the subtle but charming entrance, just the way I like it
I slid the door open and stepped in to the 玄関genkan (foyer) area; immediately the doors to the first-floor dining area opened and a male staff (probably the owner) gently told me that the first floor was full but if I liked, I could go to the second floor. I took a quick peep in to the first floor area and my disappointment was confirmed because it looked sweet and really cozy but I figured that I could at least enjoy the fare offered here and come back for a first-floor seat next time, so I accepted a second-floor seat.
After taking off my shoes and putting them on the shoe shelf, I went up the narrow, steep staircase (like machiyas are apt to have)…looks like I had the place all to myself which wasn’t bad at all (I could take pictures without bothering customers).☺
the view of the space from the entrance
I took the seat furthest in looking out on 高瀬川Takase River; this is the view from my seat of the space. There was a space fenced off by the window that looked out to the front of the café; it’s amazing how a fence can make one feel isolated even in such an open space.
the window side looking on the river and Kiyamachi Street
The owner (I’d decided that was what he was) brought me water immediately and went back downstairs while I got settled and decided what I wanted…after sometime I heard the first-floor doors open and customers leaving (I know because there were words of thanks from the owner). I still hadn’t been asked about my order…I wondered if they would offer me the now-empty seat below.
I waited a little longer and just as I was about to go downstairs, a female staff (the wife of the owner) came out to get my order…from my place at the top of the stairs and hers at the bottom, I asked if I could switch to the first floor if there was a table open. I guess that was when she realized that I could sit on the first floor and immediately prepared for the table for me.
My seat was the one that one sees upon entering by the window with Takase River flowing right under one’s nose; behind me was the kitchen.
the entrance area
the rest of the space…it only takes three small parties to fill up the first floor.
There was a young couple sitting on the regular chairs with sweet drinks and a middle-aged woman reading a book and writing with a beer when I entered…eventually the customers left (the older woman seemed to be a regular from the way that she and the owners’ banter went) and I had the place to myself, which allowed me to take the picture above. I was there during dinner hours and most people opt to have a bigger meal (the only meal options here are the sandwich and toast); I’m sure that there would be more customers as the evening went on.
I got the ホットサンドイッチ(ハム・キャベツ・卵・チーズ) “hot” (usually means pressed) sandwich (ham, cabbage, tamago (egg) & cheese), ￥500, a カフェオレcafé au lait, ￥550, and a ミニどら(焼き)mini dorayaki, ￥150, for dessert.
The sandwich was just perfect in that it was both light and filling (look at how stuffed it is), and delicious as well; the café au lait was a little stronger than most and reminded me more of a caffè latte which was alright by me. I was worried about being able to eat the homemade dorayaki even though it was small but when I tasted the cake around it, I realized that I would have regretted not having it: the cake was firm, with more aspects like bread, and seemed to have 全粒粉zenryuufun, or wheat, in it unlike the hotcake-like cake that usually sandwiches the sweet red-bean paste…with a wholesome taste and perfect subtle sweetness, it was definitely the best dorayaki I’ve had by far! Too bad that it’s a mini size, I could have a regular-sized one.
After contemplating trying the もなかmonaka (it must be fantastic, too!), I decided that I was too full and put it off for another day. Since the place wasn’t connected to Wi-Fi like most local establishments in Kyoto, the menu kept me amused. I took the liberty to translate some parts that were hard to understand or didn’t have English translation and after I paid, I apologized to them and gave them the paper upon which I written the translations. The wife, who is more social than her husband, was very thankful and we got to talking a little before I thanked them for the pleasant visit, raved about the dorayaki (they were pleased that I noticed the wheat and was so happy with the dorayaki) and promised to be back before leaving. I definitely want to become a regular here.☺