Our first night in Kyoto! I wanted to visit L’s old stomping grounds. We hopped on a train and headed to Otsu, a sleepy little town just a few stops away from Kyoto Station. For this post, let’s listen to Journey – “Don’t stop believin’ (Small Town Girl)”.
As we walked around, L pointed out everything that was either brand new or a place he use to frequent. He wanted to check out Colors – a hole in the wall bar on the main street. When L lived here, he use to hang out at Colors with his other foreigner buddy.
He warned me not to use the washrooms, as it was a traditional one, a squat. There are a lot traditional washrooms in Japan. I have yet to use one. I’m just not there yet. Inside, a customer was smoking, but L was willing to tolerate this occasion because it was his idea.
We were charged 400 Yen for some candies and wasabi potato chips. L said it’s common for a bar to drop off bar snacks for a small surcharge. L’s sleeve of beer was 600 Yen and my orange vodka was 800 Yen. My drink barely had any booze in it.
L said customers often stay for hours and the ongoing conversation with the owner is part of the experience. Early in the morning, as in 6 or 7 a.m., L would see customers stagger out.
L chatted with the owner and found out he just bought the bar. Another customer practiced his English with L and asked us if we were married.
We only stayed for one drink. You could tell the owner and customer were surprised that we left so quickly. I informed L that I was taking him out for pizza and wine at Kaya Bar in Kyoto Station.
I remember Kaya Bar being a lot better last year. I’m not sure if the quality went down or if my standards went up. I suspect it’s the latter. You can tell the employees are tired of tourists. This place attracts them in droves. Foreigners were excited to come in and order something familiar like pizza and pasta at inexpensive prices.
The drinks are dirt cheap. 300 Yen for house red or white wine. 500 Yen for a small sleeve of beer. Pizzas start at 600 Yen. The pizza is fine for the price. The house wine was so bad, at one point I almost gagged. I just stopped drinking because I found it so unpleasant. I found it difficult to get a good quality glass of wine at a price I was use to paying for in Canada, which is about $16 a glass. The selection of wine is also not impressive at the department stores in Japan.
The anchovy cabbage was vile. The texture of the cabbage was limp and soggy. The sauce just didn’t jive with my taste buds. The pizzas are thin and have a good ratio of cheese to dough. This place was a hit with our group. There’s nothing wrong with Kaya. Just avoid the house wine and you’ll do fine.