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Togenkyo is a cafe curated to the nth degree. Being so self-conscious, even self-indulgent, could be a turn off, but Togenkyo has its charms.

Opened in 2010, the overriding design theme is retro: the tables have little stands for old-school lighters and coffee is brewed with equally old-school siphons — a favorite of trendy “artisanal” cafes and long-established kissaten (traditional coffee shops).

Togenkyo is essentially an updated version of the latter. Known for their idiosyncratic interiors, kissaten are places where an owner can showcase their personal tastes. Just inside the door at Togenkyo is a fish pond in a beautiful big stone basin, and at the far end there is a tiny moss and water garden.

Food and drink are just as important. The menu focuses on big, chunky slices of toast, a kissaten staple. For more substantial dishes try the toasted sandwich sets — which come with come with “soldiers” made from crusts, a salad and omelet — or a spicy homemade curry made with beef sinew.

As you would expect, the master takes particular care with his coffee. His house blend is in the style of classic kissaten: dark and deep, with a hint of bitterness. For a sweeter blend try the Bourbon Amarelo from Brazil. The tea menu also encompasses a wide selection, with a focus on Sri Lankan blends.

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.

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