Sunday, 14 May 2017

Week 1: A Familiar Feeling

From a Recommendation

Credit: Marc

Hello everyone! And welcome back to another week of the Senshu 2017 café tour. This week's theme is a normal café that you would find anywhere else in the world. Before cafés and coffee shops Japan had a place called 茶屋, Chaya, meaning tea shop. These places sold tea and other light menu items, which shared common traits with cafés. Coffee was introduced to Japan in the 1800s by the Dutch trading ships. The Japanese term for coffee shop is 喫茶店 or "kissaten", which can be loosely translated to coffee lounge, and in 1888 the first "kissaten" was opened by a man named Tei Eikei. Ever since then, cafés and coffee shops grew in popularity in Japan. So we sought after Japanese who frequents cafés and after talking to our RA, Tatsuhiro Suzuki, he recommended we go to a café called "Komeda's Coffee". And so we went to our first café in Japan. 

A Common Menu
By Betty and Marc

Credit: Marc
When we say "standard" café we mean a pretty basic café. One without any standout themes, serving the what represents a café, coffee. And by definition, a café is simply a small restaurant that serves light meals and drinks. These kinds of café can range from brand names, such as Starbucks, to smaller shops in rural areas. All of them share a common drink menu of coffee and its many variations of such. So if you visit any café in any part of the world you can always order a nice, hot cup of coffee. 
The patrons that come to these cafés do so for various reasons. Some simply like to come alone and enjoy a cup of coffee, others come to study, and these seems true whether you're in Canada or Japan.  It is also a social common place that friends, co-workers and everything in between can engage in small talk over a cup or two. 

West meets East, Diner meets Café
By Betty and Marc

Credit: Chantelle

When we first approached Komeda's Coffee we were greeted by a sign with the café's name in neon lights. While the name was of Japanese origin, our initial thoughts was that outside aesthetics has a very western feel to it. With the architecture of the building giving a familiar, nostalgic feel of home. However, as we entered inside we found that the interior was still a western-style but with Japanese-style of service, such as having a convenient button to call the waitress, you would find in family diners.  Komeda's Coffee is a chain store, and it seemed to combine some aspects of a Japanese family restaurant and café. After taking a quick look at the menu we saw burgers, sandwiches, and pancakes which is more diner-like in one menu, as well as slices of cake, and danishes on a separate menu which represented the café side. 

A (Un)Professional Review
By Chantelle and Alvin

Credit: Betty
We ordered ice cocoa(アイスココア), mixed juice milkshake (ミックスジュース), cinnamon coffee(シナモンウィーン), and café au lait(カフェオーレ). For food, we ordered Danish pastry with ice cream on top(ミニシロノワール) and a piece of lemon cake(瀬戸内レモンケーキ). The ice cocoa had a good balance of sweetness. The ice cream part was sweet, they balanced the sweetness by making chocolate part lighter in taste. We all agreed that the lemon cake was too sweet and had only slight taste of lemon.

A Second Home
By Chantelle and Alvin

Credit: Betty
The café has a relaxing atmosphere. Most customers were dining alone and using their laptops, so the overall environment was quiet. In addition, we also recognized that there is a magazine corner with updated magazines and newspapers for customers to read. The staff there were very nice to help and to answer inquiries. When we requested the staff for photos, they were so happy to help us. This café is not a place to have a full meal but it is great to have some snacks with friends or alone. 

Credit: Alvin
The amazing part in Japan is their restaurants were separated into the smoking and non-smoking areas. The server asked us which side we were staying, so we picked the non-smoking area. A nice western style small café with a balcony decorated with foliage plants on it that built up a very quiet and relaxing atmosphere. Possibly, we visited the café at night, most customers were on their own, listening to music, playing with their smartphones, studying and reading books. The seating was super comfy allowing us to reach max relaxation. The deserts and drinks were prepared from the open kitchen which makes a big contrast with the customers’ side. The cooks were vivid to prepare food. The noise made by the collision of the dishes was the only noise we could hear in the mostly quiet setting.

Credit: The waitress

So that's it for week 1 of our café tour, you can check out the rest of the photos here! Next week we transcend customer status to master status as we dive into Akihabara's maid café scene! 

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