＊If you are reading Eat Dream Kyoto for the first time, feel free check out our introduction blog: Eat Dream Kyoto Project to find out why we started this project.
The first time I saw a flyer of the cafe Cosha (壺沙), it just stayed in my mind that I would find time to go visit. The flyer is very simple. It has a bowl of brown rice in the centre, a pair of chopsticks in front of it on a wooden table. This is what the Japanese people call “wabi-sabi”, I thought to myself.
The cafe is in the north of Kyoto city, where Maki and I don’t usually hang out. We followed the google map, found this little cafe alongside with many old Japanese houses in a quiet neighbourhood.
Sliding the door open and walking into the cafe, we came into a traditional Japanese tatami room with a small garden on the other end of it. The owner of Cosha, Sayoko came out from the kitchen to greet us.
On a rainy day before the typhoon arrives, we were the only guests, we chose a big table and sat down on the zabuton.
Choosing the food was easy, there’s only one set menu — the lunch of the week.
Here’s their lunch menu this week.
- pumpkin and cumin soup
- pear-dressing salad
- avocado agar
- okra and eggplant boiled with Japanese dashi
- lotus root and malabar spinach in plum sauce
- bean-loaf with tomato sauce
- brown rice
Maki and I savoured the food while catching up with each other’s life, with the sounds of the rain as the background music. I love the subtle tastes of all the dishes, you really need to be mindful and chew well to appreciate the different layers of the flavours.
After our meal, the owner of Cosha, Sayoko sat down for our interview. She is an adorable Japanese lady in her 30s, always with a sweet smile on the face.
Q: Question by Sandra & Maki
Q: What is the concept of your cafe?
S: Cosha is a cafe serving food made of mainly vegetables and grains. Instead of using artificial seasonings, we make our own seasonings using methods passed down from generation to generation. We want our customers to feel the joy in both their body and heart by eating delicious food made of fresh vegetables.
Q: Why did you decide to open a cafe?
S: I used to work full time in my 20s. My work was so stressful that I got so burned out and my body couldn’t take it anymore. So I quit my job and just spent the time trying to get back to a healthy lifestyle. I tried to learn how to cook in order to heal my body. I started to learn about macrobiotics, ayurvedic diet, and raw food. At the beginning I just enjoyed cooking as a hobby, but then my friends started to order food and desserts from me for their own house parties. One day I thought to myself, maybe I can open a cafe.
Q: When was Cosha opened?
S: 5 years ago in 2011. I started this cafe when my first son was 1 year old. Before I decided to open my own cafe, sometimes I would go out for lunch with my friends. You know having a little boy, he would crawl around and touch everything. I didn’t feel comfortable having him around in a cafe or a restaurant, he might bother other customers there. So when I decided to open my own cafe, I intentionally looked for a place that is Japanese style with tatami and cushions instead of chairs and table. I want to provide a kids-friendly place so that mothers can feel relaxed over meals. Even though that it has opened for 5 years already, I have contemporarily closed it for a few months during my two pregnancies.
Maki: How wonderful that you’re doing it on your own pace!
Q: What’s the meaning of your cafe “Cosha” (壺沙)?
S: “Cosha” is a zen word, meaning to spend some time leisurely even when you’re busy, and to take a deep breath even when your life is hectic.
Q: Is there a dish that you would like to recommend the customers to try?
S: Well, we only have one choice, which is our lunch set of the week. We try to make everything from whole food including the sauces and dressings. We use the seasonal ingredients that are freshly available. So instead of buying ingredients based on the menu, we see what seasonal vegetables are available at the moment, then decide what to make with them.
Q: Is this cafe vegan?
A: Yes, it’s vegan. But we don’t want people to perceive it as a pure vegan cafe. We want everyone to feel welcomed. Sometimes we have customers who are meat lovers, but just once in a while they feel the crave to come and have a vegan meal here. We just want to provide delicious lunch meals, and at the end of the day, people would realize that what they have eaten is not just delicious but also good for their body.
Q: Are you vegan yourself?
A: Not really, I eat meat and fish whenever I feel like my body needs them, like when I was pregnant.
Q: Could you give us a hint on how to make vegetarian or vegan dishes so flavourful?
A: I think first of all we need to start from the little things like choosing good quality ingredients and seasonings. Even using better quality of salt, soy sauce, and miso can really make a difference on the tastes of the food. Another thing I would suggest is using an earthen pot to cook the rice instead of an electric rice cooker. Now after many year of using an earthen pot, I can immediately tell if the rice is cooked with an electric rice cooker. They just taste different.
The conversation with Sayoko really reminds me of the saying, “you are what you eat”. In a fast paced world where many people are looking for profits, small local businesses like Cosha which puts people over profits is really a gem. If you’re in the area, or visiting Daitouji for the day and are looking for a place for lunch, don’t forget that Cosha is one of your best choices.
If you're interested for a visit, Feel free to check out their website here
Eat Dream Kyoto is brought to you by two close friends, Maki & Sandra. Aiming to introduce healthy eateries in Kyoto and to reveal the dreams of those behind the scene. Through this project, they wish to help the readers to appreciate the food being served, to feel more connected to the space, and to inspire others to live the life of their dreams.
In the spring of the year when I turned 32, I was diagnosed with liposarcoma, a cancer of a malignant tumor. That was the turning point of my life. In order to find my own healthy lifestyle, I quit my job at a company which I worked for 3 years and a half. Now I live in Kyoto and take the time to learn about health and healthy diet. I took a world trip to 19 countries in my late 20s and I’ve spent 5 years in Canada afterwards. I still enjoy traveling to somewhere about once a year. Pescetarian, except for special occasions. (laugh)
I’m Chinese Canadian, moved to Japan in 2009, now working as a yoga teacher in Kyoto and Osaka. I yearn to see the world and to seek a purposeful life. Traveling is one of my passions and so far have been to about 30 countries around the world, but I believe that the inner journey is just as important. Yoga, meditation, and reading help me to deepen that path.