Snoopy Cha-Ya Cafe, Kyoto
This week I’ve returned from my final travel destination of the year (I think!), Japan. It’s always disheartening getting back into the grind of everyday life, but I have Christmas to look forward to. And looking through the pictures and fondly recalling good times is also therapeutic. And what a trip Japan was. Wow. Just wow. It feels totally otherworldly, with each city and travel spot offering such a unique perspective in what is an intriguing culture and people. That extends to their food. Different qualities are emphasised, and different things appeal. And one of those food experiences was dining in at the Snoopy Cha-Ya character cafe in Kyoto.
Japan is a population that celebrates it’s characters. Yes, the mascots, the icons, the people. Even if they’re not even Japanese, as is the case with Peanuts. The locals do have a love-hate relationship with these type of places though. The food is never good, that you can count on. Barely average at best. But the cute -kawaii- presentation of the food brings a smile to people. And the theming offers such unique tributes to the motifs of their childhood.
I decided to check out the Snoopy Cha-Ya cafe is it was only a short stroll from our accommodation in Kyoto. This would also serve as a final meal for my travel partner Ryan and myself. So I had to make it count. And I walked in with fair expectations, as none of the reviewers ever found it actually tasty. We were there for the one-of-a-kind opportunity for something quite different. And Instagram-able.
The cafe opened at 10:30 and we were in not longer after that. It’s located above the Snoopy gift shop in Nishiki market. So lots of opportunity to pick up some overpriced gifts on the way out. It’s a quiet affair, I think it is a lot of the time, as the hype around character cafes like this tends to die out rather rapidly. The service was polite, and prompt. It always is in Japan.
I ordered the parfait and Ryan went with the mushroom pasta. Each dish comes in at about ¥1000, that’s quite reasonable I fnd. The decorated foam coffees trade at around the ¥800 mark, that’s over the top. Truth be told, the theming is reasonably mild. It’s one garish or one element that carries any real trace of Peanuts. It’s enough though.
I never quite understand how, but the dishes in this country always arrive in minutes. It must be a case of some Japanese wizardry. The pasta came with the incorrect garnish (printed egg tamago instead of the rice as pictured), which we didn’t mind at all, but the server was concerned about. We ended up liking these dishes. The food itself was inoffensive, we were fully prepared for worse.
I had a minor bite of Ryan’s pasta. The flavours are gentle and the pasta is cooked al dente. It could have benefitted from a greater variety of ingredients, the occasional mushroom isn’t quite enough and makes it to tame. I was a fan of the parfait, less one element. The bottom half of the cup is cornflakes and this feels like a bit of a cop out. Everything in the top hemisphere is delightful though. It’s a cool mixture of a marshmallow, waffle, ice-cream, mochi, red bean, and two types of jelly. I couldn’t quite navigate the Nihongo of the menu, but I believe it was hazelnut jelly and fruit jelly.
The parsley is mismatched and not everything should go togther but that is the essence of the character cafe concept. You can’t help feeling like everything is on for show. And after all, that’s why we’re all dining here. So let me finish my Snoopy cafe review with a befitting Snoopy quote: “there’s not a lot of sense in doing a lot of barking, if you don’t really have anything to say”.