It’s one of those places you walk by hundreds of times, going, “Oh, that place looks nice. I should pop in someday and check it out.” Yet somehow, every time you walk by, you never actually set food in the venue.
Well, I finally did it. I finally checked out Inoda Coffee.
This is a branch of coffee shops you’ll find scattered throughout Kyoto. The one I decided to try was the Sanjo location, in a quieter part of the street. It wasn’t particularly busy, as it was about 3pm on a weekday- perfect for me to step in and try out a late lunch.
When you first walk in to the Sanjo branch, you’ll see that the place is split into several sections. The first section on the righthand side by the windows is the nonsmoking area for dining. To the immediate left is a shop where you can purchase coffee and related goods to take home. In the back, you’ll see the cash register, and beyond that a round, raised counter where the smoking patrons get their caffeine fix.
Upon entering, someone will approach and ask if you want smoking or non-. Then, you’re seated and given a menu. My menu had pretty thorough explanations in English, especially for the different blends they offer for the coffee, so even if you don’t speak the local lingo you should be able to pick something you like. It was also a very simple menu- cake sets, sandwich sets, toast sets, and coffee.
I opted for the “mixed sandwich set”, which had ham, egg and cucumbers in it. No cheese, according to the person serving me. I also opted for the coffee included with it, which in total cost about 1,300 yen. When you ask for coffee, the waiter will ask if you want it to have the sugar and milk already included; if you ask for no sugar, they won’t bother bringing any to the table.
Also, that small container they provide at your table? It’s salt, not sugar. Just FYI.
Anyway, the coffee came first, with milk and sugar included. Shortly after came the sandwich, and as I ate I was able to get my feelings sorted out about this place.
“Businesslike” is what I think of when I recall Inoda Coffee. Everyone kept to themselves, and while there were people chattering with their companions, I got the feeling that this wasn’t the sort of place you were encouraged to linger. Oh, certainly, you can take your time drinking your coffee, but once it’s finished, you ought to think about getting up and on with your day. This is a bit unusual in Kyoto, as most places give the impression you could set up camp for years without being bothered by the staff.
That said, it wasn’t uncomfortable in the least. The waiters were attentive, the food was nice, and yes, the coffee was tasty (this coming from someone who doesn’t normally drink black coffee- I tend to go for lots of milk). The seats by the windows are great for people-watching, and bring a lot of light into the cafe. The sandwich I got was very sizable and I was satisfied with my food. Enough for 1,300 yen? …Eeeh.
If you pass by Inoda Coffee and you need a quick cup to rejuvenate yourself, do check it out! The coffee by itself tends to cost about 500 yen.