In the northern prefecture of Kyoto, off the tourist trails is a serene café and boutique store called Stardust. Homed in an old Machiya (a traditional wooden house) it was a weaving factory in a previous lifetime.
Stardust is a curated blend of vintage a new wares, all of them chosen for their innate beauty. There are brass goblets, wabi-sabi pottery, tea kettles and linen garments. Crystals and brass bowls adorn the tables in the intimate dining room that seats only twelve people.
The vegan menu is full of flavour and their tea is the perfect way to sit and savour the space. Try a cup of the ‘autumn at dawn’.
Parting the noren – the fabric dividers at the entrance – we shuffled into the foyer. Foyer is perhaps the wrong word, the room was the length of a bicycle. We dutifully removed our shoes and slid into the cotton slippers provided.
Up the stairs we entered the dining room. The decor had a modern Scandinavian aesthetic, or Japandi if you will. Light wooden panels, clean lines, natural linen. Nothing in the room that wasn’t purposeful.
We nestled around our low table and gratefully received our meal. Presented on dark granite, were neat rows of colourful morsels arranged like fresh paint on an artist palette.
Provided with nori paper and a bowl of rice we delighted in designing our own sushi rolls. ‘Oh have you tried the lotus with the crab meat?’ 'Mmmmm, I’m going to try pickled ginger and octopus'.
Every morning, Yoshihiro, the owner of Monk visits farms in the nearby mountains and forages for ingredients. The evening we arrived he was recalling his early morning hunting for venison.
Seated at the counter there was place for only two other couples. Behind us a table seating eight guests made up the dining room. From our perch we had a view to Yoshihiro masterfully preparing and cooking our meals by the wood fired oven.
Located along the Philosophers Path, Monk is a welcome pause from the world outside. The energy is at once calming and ignites a passion for honest food, simple, fresh ingredients cooked over fire.
“Is it possible to express the beauty and the life of the vegetable;
to invoke such feelings as the sunlight, the moisture of the soil, the blowing of the wind?”
These are the questions I always ask myself when I make my dishes, in hopes that the wind blows in the hearts of those who eat it.
I hope by dining with us.
It evokes countless memories
of the gifts offered to us by mother nature.
And to leave a impression as if you were deep in the forests or in the blue ocean."
Wife & Husband
A short walk from the Kamo river sits the charming café Wife & Husband.
Vintage wooden stools and folded tables hang from the beams by the doorway along with straw hats, picnic baskets and rolled mats.
The menu fits on one small leaf of paper. They do a few things and do them perfectly. A comforting melted cheese sandwich and a thermos of slow drip dark roasted coffee.
You can dine in or enjoy your goodies as a picnic. We watched couples collecting their picnic baskets and rustic wooden stools and stroll towards the river bank.