モア ガーデン Moa Garden

Technically this shop is not a cafe, because they don’t serve coffee and there is no where to sit and eat.  It’s basically a bakery, but a really nice one at that; hence, it’s write-up here.

Moa Garden is one of those increasingly rare shops where everything is made on site, and as a result the shop smells FANTASTIC!  If they could bottle that smell, I would be a happy customer.  There is a little window at the front of the shop where you can watch the pastry chef make cakes.

Moa Garden is apparently well-known for their chou a la cremes.  We (the group of PTA moms I was with) visited the shop at 10:00 am, when they open.  At that time, there were already several customers in line for the chou a la cremes.  Of the three types Moa Garden makes, they were almost sold out of two of the types.  Here are some photos of the chou a la cremes in the oven, and the three types for sale:

Moa Garden oven

Moa Garden shou a la creme

The staff had written out explanations on the different types of chou a la cremes, but I couldn’t buy just one or two: I bought a few of each type, for the sake of comparison.  And at 110 Yen each, they are very reasonably priced.  The staff filled them with custard cream *after* we ordered so that the pastry would stay crisp.

The chou a la cremes were all good; I don’t think I would recommend one type over any other.  The pastry was light and crisp, the custard was fluffy and vanilla-scented (with real vanilla!).  Good stuff, all the way around.

I didn’t buy anything out of the cake window, but I will next time I’m in the area.  Look at these darling cakes!:

moa garden cake window

Everything was beautifully presented and topped with seasonal fruit.  I don’t know any child or adult who could pass up one of those adorable Totoro cakes.

The shop is nothing special to look at from the outside, and you might not even notice it if you’re just driving by.

Moa Garden storefront

However, if you need a nice cake or a selection of individual pieces, I definately recommend this shop.  Located just across from JR Nakasho station, it’s easy to find.  Parking available.

+ What I liked about this shop:  Friendly service, gorgeous handcrafted cake, reasonable prices.

– What I didn’t like about this shop:  Nothing, really, but the exterior could use a slight makeover.

Address: 岡山-倉敷市鳥羽26-11 Okayama-ken, Kurashi-shi, Toba 26-11

Tel & Fax:  086-463-6007

Date visited: July 4, 2013.

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Iine Cafe & Bakery

This little casual cafe is located right at the entrance to the North Village Farmer’s Market in Shoo-cho (勝央町; pronouned Shoh-oh-cho) in Northern Okayama prefecture.  When we arrived, there was a huge crowd at the register, so we opted to visit on our way out of the park.  On the way out of the park, guess what?–there was still a crowd at the register.  I couldn’t really figure out why since the menu is incredibly basic: a couple of kinds of coffee, a couple of kinds of tropical juices, a couple of kinds of sandwiches, and bakery items (which were self-serve).  In the end, we didn’t want to wait in line, so my sons just ordered a couple of tropical juices with tapioca beads.

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The baked goods looked (and smelled) great.  Most items seemed almost sold-out:

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The cinammon rolls smelled awesome.  I really wanted a sandwich and a coffee but didn’t want to wait in line.  Maybe next time.

The style of the shop had a very homemade-y feel, like something even I could whip together.  Extremely casual, nothing fancy.  Here’s a photo of the front door; I think you’ll see what I mean:

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I actually like the way they “did” their menu: they painted it right on the window in huge letters.  It looks stylish in a casual way, and is easy to read and figure out what you want to order *before* going inside (assuming you read English, that is).

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I think this cafe probably does good business on the weekends because there’s not really much else to eat at the park other than at an overpriced outdoor Korean bar-be-que and an overpriced Italian restaurant.  For park guests with little kids or for people who just want a quick bite, this is really the only option.

+ Things I like about this cafe:  Inexpensive, simple menu; nice looking baked goods, open atmosphere.

– Things I didn’t like about this cafe:   The perpetual clog at the register…why?  There has to be a better way to regulate the flow of customers so that they’re not backed up.  The tables were really small, seating only 1-3 people.

Here is a link to the park site, if you want to check out the full menu (in Japanese):

http://www.alis-nv.com/buy/bread.html

The photos of the sandwiches look really nice; unfortunatly, they didn’t have any photos of the sandwiches *in* the actual cafe, otherwise I might actually have waited in line for one.

Date visited: June 22, 2013

Address: Okayama Farmer’s Market North Village, Katsuta-gun, Shoo-cho, Oka 1100 (岡山県勝田郡勝央町岡1100番地
おかやまファーマーズ・マーケットノースヴィレッジ)