Neighbor Coffee Company

“Cool!” and “Yum!” sum up my experience at Neighbor Coffee Company, a sweet little cafe located just at the entrance to the up-and-coming “Jeans Street” designer shopping area of Kojima, Kurashiki-shi.

I first learned of Neighbor Coffee Company from Luc Gougeon’s blog.  You can read his review here: http://foodietopography.net/neighbor-coffee-company/   As a prelude, Luc’s photos of the shop are really nice–much nicer than mine, in fact, and he obviously knows much more about coffee than I do.

Neighbor Coffee Company is located in central Kojima, on the north side of the Shimin Koryu Center (which used to be the Seto Ohashi Bridge Museum).  It’s on the second floor of a corner building and is accessed by a really narrow circular staircase.  The cafe doesn’t really stand out when you’re looking at it from the street.

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Once you’re inside the cafe, it looks totally different.

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The cafe is bright, spacious, and modern but feels very relaxing and inviting.  I love the mix of concrete, glass, metal, and wood; the simple lines of everything blend well to great effect.  The concrete flooring has a “reclaimed” feel that is inviting.  The two main walls are made mostly of glass, and even though the view isn’t especially great, the effect still has that “wow” factor.

At the counter, I was greeted with this sight:

DSC_1963Look at those gorgeous doughnuts, arranged “just so” in their individual paper cups and sparkling like gems in the showcase.  I was visiting with a friend, who ordered a Wild Blueberry doughnut and a Mango juice.  I chose an Organic Sugar doughnut and a White Chocolate Iced Latte.

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I am a freak for white chocolate and forgot that I don’t really like sweetened coffee, and this was pretty sweet.  However, it was still really good because the underlying coffee was good–rich and smooth.  It had obviously been properly made.  The Mason jar-esque mugs were pretty cute too.

The doughnuts were AWESOME.  Yes, they were more expensive than the 100 Yen donuts from Mr. Donut or Krispy Kreme but they were really worth their price.  My friend and I traded bites, and even though the Organic Sugar doughnut was really great, the Wild Blueberry was even better!  If you go to Neighbor, you should definitely try the Wild Blueberry doughnut.

Here’s a photo of the full counter:

DSC_1968Unfortunately, the really cute guy who made my coffee was bending down when I snapped this shot.

Even though Neighbor Coffee Company markets their own coffee, they told me that they buy their beans already roasted from their supplier, who they did not want to reveal.

Even though we were in the cafe for a couple of hours, there was only one other customer on a late Sunday morning.  I’m surprised that such a great place isn’t busy all the time.

Outdoor seating is also available (see Luc’s blog, above, for a photo).

+ What I liked about this shop:  Awesome interior, nice service, fabulous doughnuts and coffee.

– What I didn’t like about this shop:  Not much.  No dedicated parking available, but there are two pay parking lots across the street.

Neighbor Coffee Company also offers sandwiches as well as a wide array of coffee and juice beverages, but it was impossible to get a shot of the menu without glare from the glass frame.  For menu information, etc. see the website and / or Facebook page, both listed below.  The website is minimal, but the Facebook page has nice some photos.

Website:  http://neighbor-coffee.com/index.html

Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/NeighborCoffeeCompany

Address:  岡山県倉敷市児島味野2-2-39 2F  Okayama-ken, Kurashiki-shi, Kojima, Ajino 2-2-39  2F

Tel:  086-472-5183

Hours:  8:00 – 20:00  Closed on Thursdays

Map:

(*NOTE* : This map shows that the coffee shop is mid-block, but actually it is on the corner)

Date visited:  July 28, 2013

Litofun Italiano

Again, this is not really a cafe, but a full-on pizzeria.  Still, I had such a good time at this shop that I couldn’t resist writing about it.  I visited the shop with a group of fellow PTA moms.

Here is what the restaurant looks like from the outside:

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We got there before they opened at 11:00am, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves for a while.  It really filled up quickly, though, and there was a huge line on the porch.

The interior was fun and stylish.

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Basically, Litofun is an all-you-can-eat pizzeria.  The system works like this: you order a pasta dish or a casserole, and then you can eat all the pizza you want, plus you get a salad, dessert, and unlimited drinks to go with your entree; the price was 1,290 Yen for all of that.  The restaurant offers fresh pasta dishes, but only 2 types of fresh pasta and a limit of 5 servings each.  Luckily, there were 5 of us in the group, and we got there early enough to be able to order the fresh pasta.  We all chose the Bacon & Basil Carbonara special:

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The salad was actually served first; it was a gorgeous salad of mixed greens, topped with just the right amount of creamy dressing and a dash of powdered paprika.  Very good.

The pasta was excellent too, but actually a little too rich.

The staff bake various pizzas and bring them to your table, and you take a slice (or two) of whatever kinds you like.  You can also request pizza toppings and combinations.

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They also offered sweet, dessert pizzas.  The pizzas are obviously thin-crust, so it’s easy to eat a lot.  The pizzas are made in a gas-fired pizza oven.

Funlitto pizza oven 2

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Here are some photos of the drink bar, the dessert case, and the chocolate cake I selected:

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The desserts were probably not made on-site; they were ok, but nothing flash.  The draw at this restaurant is obviously the pizza.  A good place to go if you want to eat a lot.  I ate so much that I didn’t need dinner that evening, nor breakfast the next morning.

+ What I liked about this restaurant:  Endless, fresh-baked pizza, super-friendly service, nice atmosphere, big tables.

– What I didn’t like about this restaurant:  The bathroom was way too small for the restaurant and looked very cobbled together; no real view from the huge windows–a few potted trees would have been nice. 

Address:  〒710-0011 岡山県倉敷市徳芳117-1 Okayama-ken, Kurashiki-shi, Tokubou 117-1

Tel: 086-441-7418  FAX: 086-441-7428

*There are also Litofun Italiano restaurants in Okayama city and Tsuyama city; check the website (in Japanese) for locations and details.

website: http://www.litofun.co.jp/index.html

Date visited: July 4, 2013

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!:

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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.