Why? To try it! I’d heard about this cute Japanese café in Putney. So I went for lunch, by myself, on a weekday.
When? A rainy Tuesday afternoon in August, at 2pm.
First Impression: Cozy and welcoming on this grey afternoon! Small outside area tucked nicely around the side. Entering the café is a bit like walking into someone’s living room. There was just one other customer sitting at a table.
Service: If you are staying, there is table service, which wasn’t entirely clear, and I wasn’t sure whether to sit straight down or not. Once I did, I received extremely polite service from Tsuyoshii and Cecile, who were both wearing bright Japanese-patterned headscarves.
Clientele: A regular trickle of people popped in for take-away and quick meals. Locals, familiar with the menu, seemed very keen on the matcha cake. A couple of young Japanese guys came in for a late lunch.
Ambience: Funky, chilled out jazz music was playing in the background. Comfortable wooden chairs and tables. The small space was well-organised with Japanese pictures and accessories dotted around. It feels like a calm oasis – without the clatter and chaos of one the high street coffee shops around the corner.
Description of food and drink: Otabe Kafe is proud to be a ‘brown rice’ café – offering a selection of healthy snacks, drinks and cakes.
I had a single, chubby ‘Otabe Inari’ (mixed veg on brown rice in a tofu skin) at £1.80, and a Smoked Salmon and Avocado Roll (with Wababi crème fraiche) at £2.50. Both were tasty and clearly prepared with care.
I wasn’t, however, particularly full after those, and so ordered a macha latte, £2.50, and a macha cake with whipped double cream and adzuki beans, £3. Like the sushi, these were high quality, but not high quantity. The green-hued cake was light and spongy – yep, it’s recommended! The milk foam of the small latte was formed into the shape of a heart… capturing the ethos of the place.
Toilets: I didn’t see the sign for one…
Come again? Definitely! This homely café is has an appealing variety of snacks. It’s something truly different – a brave venture that needs the loving support of neighbours.
213 Upper Richmond Road, Putney, London, SW15 6SQ – Map here