Hidden away in the back lanes of Gion is this elegant cafe. Although it seems, at first, as though you are walking into a glamourous cubicle – the cafe and bar is in fact quite spacious when you take into consideration the separate tatami room area and second floor which are not at all detectable from the entrance. So don’t be put off if you poke your head in and see the place packed.
Niti seems to provide just one available lunch dish at 1500 yen – a speciality chawan mushi (steamed savoury custard flavoured with seasonal ingredients) which looked fantastic. It was topped with what appeared to be ankake (clear amber sauce) and crisp, deep fried yuba (soy milk skin) shards. I plan to try it out next time I am in the area so will update once that little necessity has been taken care of. But clearly this is more the kind of place one drops into for something sweet with a cuppa. Or simply a dish of shaved ice with sweet toppings – a summer speciality but available all year round at Niti with seasonal fruits.
In the early evening the place turns into a bar with rather expensive cocktails and a few nibbles but it is indeed such a lovely space to be in I reckon its probably worth the yen – and besides, its expensive by Japanese standards – I couldn’t get a cocktail anywhere in Australia for under this price so… no complaints here but if you are used to finding a cocktail in Japan for under 900 yen – which is not hard to do, well I can understand your reservations about paying 1500y.
We enjoyed both very good coffee and tea alongside a silken smooth houjicha pudding with tiny cubes of black sugar jelly suspended through it and a really moreish and crumbly fig, chocolate and walnut cake.
You will find this little treasure towards the southern end of Hanamikoji dori – a laneway to the east, just before you reach the main gate of the Geiko/Maiko performance hall.
Niti is easy to walk past as you can’t see inside the place so just keep an eye out for the noren or shop sign which has a design that resembles 2 horizontal bricks, one suspended above the other . You can see a picture on their website.
Here’s a LINK for more details and a map.
**Please note that the Niti site is in Japanese but if you use google chrome with translate – it will automatically translate to English for you.