Saturday, August 10, 2013

Kyoto: My Favourite Cafes

Kyoto has too many amazing cafes, and they're all better than anything I've ever found in Tokyo. Tokyo's good cafes are mostly chains, they're overpriced, and most sweets look a lot better than they taste (minus a few exceptions). Kyoto is filled with independent cafes that serve quality coffee, sweets, and food, and here are a few of my favourites.

Shinshindo is a Kyoto bakery chain, and I cannot believe Tokyo doesn't have it. It's a bakery but also cafe, and I fell in love with their morning sets: eggs, toast and unlimited coffee, just like back home. I've tried countless brunch spots in Tokyo, still nowhere matches the simple, affordable and tasty fare offered at Shinshindo. The breakfast sets are priced around ¥600, which is about a third of the price of what's found in Tokyo. Oh, I miss Shinshindo so much already!

Breakfast at Shinshindo

Takeout bakery items

Hello is another local cafe, which doubles as a library and even hosts its own adjacent bakery. Their cappuccino is excellent, and they have a long menu of smoothies and juices. You can eat meals there too, and they even have cupcakes. I love the atmosphere, it's quiet and you can pick any book from the vast library. You can easily find this cafe as they have giant banana leaves on the outside.

Hello cafe, books and coffee


Mango and mint smoothie + cupcake

Second House serves spaghetti (?!) and sweets, but I only tried the sweets. I had a very reasonably-priced scone set, which came with a plain scone and chocolate-chip one, along with fresh cream, blueberries and strawberries and an iced coffee. Delicious, and the real deal!

Half eaten scone set at Second House

Windows with a great view of Kyoto

Mumoteki is a cafe and clothing/goods shops all in one. Everything they serve is vegetarian (and perhaps vegan), much like my other favourite Kyoto cafe Proverbs 15:17, which is located near Kyoto University. Mumoteki was very similar, serving Japanese cuisine with a twist. I had miso katsu, which was fully vegetarian. The cafe was fully packed even on a weekday, and I'm still dreaming about that meal.

Mumoteki lunch set

Sunshine Cafe is another vegetarian spot- I'm not a vegetarian at all, but I love the cuisine. It's located right in the shopping arcade on a second floor, and has a bit of a hippie, bohemian vibe to it. I tried the roasted tofu on toast with a salad, and again the whole menu was delicious, healthy and affordable. They also serve a large selection of teas, and you can buy their coffee beans. All ingredients are 100% natural.

Tofu on toast, who would have thought.

What a nerd.

Cafe Independants is like a French cafe- it's located in the basement of a building that used to host a newspaper back in the days, and it's dimly lit with large tables and an artsy vibe. The menu is izakaya-style, which means bits and pieces you can order to form a meal. They have a large selection of drinks, cocktails and even sweets, it's open late and it's a good place to find out more about the local art and music scene in Kyoto, if you live there. I highly recommend the salad ni├žoise and quiche.

Hearty salad at Cafe Independants

Let's just say I didn't set foot in Starbucks for ten days.


Khaleesi said...

I told my boyfriend I wanted to go to Kyoto for my birthday as it's also one of my favorite places in Japan. Thanks so much for the vegetarian cafe suggestions! You bet we'll bet there!

artslondonblog said...

I also really loved the cool cafes in Kyoto. We spent our 2011/12 New Year's Eve at Cafe Independent. Great place, cool little record shop down there too.

Glad you managed to find so many top places!

Norma said...

Oh wow that looks amazing! I've always wanted to go to Japan, and since I live so near, I really should go soon! Will dig this up when I do! The vegetarian cafe is definitely going to be on my list :)
Norma x

Laura said...

What a nice blog you have, definitely following. I wish I could go to Kyoto. Have been curious for that place for years. Lovely!

Vivian said...

Khaleesi: Oh, you'll love those two!! Have fun!!!

artslondonblog: Of course, you went to Independants, what else should I expect ;) Kyoto is just so special, sigh.

Norma: Please come to Japan soon!!! You have such an interesting blog!!!

Laura: Thank you. You'd love Kyoto, everyone does, and you'll make it over here someday soon I'm sure!

Phillip Jackson said...

Interesting post, I live in Kyoto. Hope you don't mind me plugging my Facebook page but it might be of interest , I try to get around to as many different cafes as I can and post some pics etcs.