Those who are frequent travelers to Tokyo might be familiar or aware of the famous 梅園 Umezono in Asakusa which sells traditional Wagashi. There's also a traditional Wagashi house called 梅園 Umezono in Kyoto (actually more than one if we count all its outlets) but it is not affiliated to the Tokyo counterpart.
The one in Kyoto was established in Kawaramachi and has opened several outlets, including this うめぞの Cafe & Gallery (pronounced as "u-me-zo-no) which is targeted at the younger crowds with a menu that includes hotcakes, French toast and raw gluten parfaits.
In fact, I first learnt about this place through the Matcha Hotcakes (¥930/¥1330 with drink), which I have always assumed was pancakes until I actually arrived at the cafe and scrutinized the description on the menu. I didn't expect much as the pale green colors weren't appetizing at all.
I was totally wrong. This was the BEST hotcakes I've ever had. The two pillowy stacks come with azuki paste and azuki butter which melted gradually under the heat of the pancakes.
Instead of a pair of fork and knife, chopsticks were served and I finally knew the reason--the hotcakes are so soft and cloudlike that chopsticks alone will do the trick. The matcha taste was pleasantly mellow and nothing too sweet here even if you have emptied the maple syrup. Even if these were not matcha-flavored, I am very certain I would still love it.
Any trip to Umezono would not be a completed without their signature Mitarashi Dangos which happened to be my favourite Wagashi too. But the grilled rice skewers were too firm and over-chewy, nowhere comparable to the ones from Mitarashi dango near 下鴨神社 even though the sweet soy sauce was tasty.
Expect to wait a while for the Hotcakes to be ready but it's obviously worth the wait. And I'll be back for the Black Sugar French Toast next time.
うめぞの Cafe & Gallery
180 Fudocho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 604-8215, Japan
11.30am-7pm daily (LO 6.30pm)