If in some yet-to-be-explained plot twist the British TV show “Downton Abbey” winds up in Osaka, expect Kitahama Retro to play a starring role. It’s period perfect — right down to the maid in her pinafore, the linen curtains, silver-service tea sets and giant egg omelet sandwich. It’s a recipe for kitsch, but Kitahama Retro takes imitation so earnestly it rises above kitsch.
The teahouse occupies a two-storey building that dates back to 1912, which means it miraculously survived both the bombing of Osaka and countless building booms. Kitahama Retro has been the tenant since 1997. Downstairs is the kitchen and shop (make sure you pick up a few scones to take home), while upstairs (up a creaky staircase) is the regal (or retro) tearoom.
There is a wonderful (and wonderfully named) selection of teas: Madam Lotus, Princess Rose, Home Sweet Home and Encyclopedia of Dessert. I opted for a pot of Assam: prosaic, but nonetheless delightful. It came with two ginger and cream “sandwiches,” well, macaroons — there was, for my liking, a tad too much ginger.
Our neighbors were also served sandwiches, which I am delighted to say, were not fingers of bread (or macaroons) but delicious looking hulks.
I normally don’t advise this in reviews, but do take a trip to the bathroom where one will find a rather amusing advertisement. Kitahama Retro: just delightful.
1-1-26, Kitahama Retro Building, Kitahama, Osaka; 06-6223-5858; nearest stations; Naniwabashi, Kitahama; open 11 a.m.- 9:30 p.m. (7 p.m. on weekends); lunch ¥1,500; no smoking, English menu; Japanese spoken.
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