I’d walked past Smart coffee a million times, dismissing it as one of those places stuck in time that had survived purely on the fact it is situated on Teramachi with plenty of passing trade. For some reason I thought it was a tiny, smoky box of a place – blame memories of too many Japanese cafes visited in my youth – and had therefore stubbornly never set foot inside.
I was catching up with a friend. Pressed for a location, and being nearby at the time, I suggested we meet outside the cafe as it is easy enough to find…
I was early so took a peek inside for the first time. It seemed to stretch back further than I had anticipated and in fact looked rather welcoming. I inhaled deeply planning to only step inside for a brief moment and opened the door. Not a hint of smoke (although I am told I was lucky on that particular occasion..)
Why not stay for a coffee? I sat down, read the menu which consisted of a variety of coffee preparations and a few classic yoshoku sweets like hotcakes and french toast… It was old school, ‘retro’ perhaps, but it had a strangely cosmopolitan vibe. My fellow patrons were a mixed bunch – including the well heeled, students, housefrau’s and a few funky monkeys – not at all the crowd I was expecting. The service was friendly, the atmosphere just right and the coffee was pretty good. Its one of those joints that has a certain endearing quality you can’t quite put your finger on.
Its an obvious one but “don’t judge a book by its cover” springs to mind…..
Check it out next time you are in town – if you can get a table that is – Smart coffee is very popular – there is often a queue out the door.
You will find it on the western side of the Teramachi arcade, just north of Sanjo Arcade on Sanjo Dori.
Oh and if you like Yoshoku dishes – they do some great classics in the restaurant upstairs (yes of course I returned!) – hambaagu with demi glace, ebi furai, Korokke etc. And the restaurant is no smoking. The food is a good standard and you will feel like you have stepped back in time. Into a 1930’s movie. Worth it for that alone.