Saturday, March 25, 2017

Feb-ulous Kyoto: Her Choice, and then Mine

One of my regrets for the trip being too short was not able to spend more time checking out the buzzing café scene in Kyoto this time. Nonetheless we did have the opportunity to check out two that were high on each of our must-visit list.

First - which was not exactly my choice per se, I must reiterate - was the Snoopy Cha-ya right in the middle of the Nishiki Market. The theme café dedicated to the world's most famous beagle character and located right at the busiest junction at the world famous market, you can imagine the place was absolutely packed even on a random Friday afternoon. Downstairs was the retail space full of souvenirs and character goods, plus a snack corner selling food like soft-serve icecream and coffee, whilst upstairs was much cozier, providing sit-down space for simple meals, desserts and/or drinks.

Being asked to wait for a good 15 minutes downstairs before being seated, we were surprised the upstairs restaurant was half-empty. Maybe it's just a plot to play "hard to get" or to get you stay longer to buy stuff at the shop. We already had a full tempura lunch by the time we got to the café so we opted for something light and sweet. As you can imagine, everything's served on Snoopy tableware with the food decorated with the characters. The interior was actually quite tastefully done - with the characters subtly appear in the unusual places.

As for the food and drink, I would say it's on par with just about any tourist magnet places around. I didn't have high expectation so turned out it was quite decent. My bowl of matcha was served with a tiny piece of Snoopy sweet which was kind of cute. On the other hand, CYY's café latte featured a half-drowning (or floating) Snoopy in the bowl of coffee with frothed milk on top. It sure made good Instagram picture - that's about all that I would say.

I have heard about Café efish for a while already and was delighted to find out the place was actually 5 minutes away from where we stayed this time - in fact it's right on our way to the closest train station so we walked right by regularly. So we dropped by for a drink one early evening before readying for dinner at home. The café is located right by the Kamo river near the Gojo bridge – which doubled as a gallery, shop, and workshop for owner/designer Shin Nishibori, who worked as part of the Apple iPhone design team before retiring.

During the day with people sitting around the couches by the window overlooking the river, I felt the café is the perfect place to chill over a novel in hand and a cup of coffee. Then at night when it got dark outside, it became more a bar venue, with ample selection of drinks at the bar on the second floor, with dim lighting and jazzy music in the background. Unlike most cafes which close early, efish stayed open til 10pm.

On the shelves around the café were an interesting collection of designer houseware products, some by Shin Nishibori himself. They were there both as art exhibition and also for retail sale. They ran a pretty comprehensive drinks menu from artisan coffee to tea, to juices, cocktails and hard liquors, along with some light snacks and pastries. I went for a warm cocktail with orange juice, Cointreau, whisky and Campari and the cake of the day, which was an almond pound cake with chestnut. Both were tasty and comforting. At night there’s not so much of a view outside but it’s still very relaxing glancing out the window, watching as cars speeding by the Gojo bridge just right outside. Such a lovely venue.

There are definitely much more places that I would love to visit next time, but I will still keep efish cafe in mind.

Snoopy Chaya:
efish Cafe:

(Feb-ulous Kyoto Part 8 - check out the whole series here!)

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