Pizza, pasta and curry. These amazing foods apparently are taken to the next level by adding figs to them. That's right, figs: a fall fruit in Chiba. So, like all good things in Japan, why not make it an entire cafe theme?
Kitchen Sawa, in Otaki, Chiba, is a fig cafe (いちじくカフェ). How many dishes can you really make with figs? The ones that were on the lunch set menu (listed above) when I went there in early October were a new twist on familiar foods, leaving our group full but refreshed.
Kitchen Sawa, which is about a year old, serves lunch and dinner. The cafe’s peak season is September through November, depending on the fig harvest. It uses locally grown figs, and the cafe closes around mid-November. The lunch set menu includes a drink, main entree (a big portion size), and a dessert for about 1500 yen.
- The meal started off with refreshing fig leaf iced tea.
- Next, my iced coffee came, chalked full of rich, oaky flavors.
- Fresh figs were the free appetizer. The fruit has a dark green or brown skin and a bright pinkish-red center dotted with tiny seeds.
- I got the fig pizza, which had fresh vegetables, herb sauce instead of pizza sauce, slices of meat and figs. Pizza can be a really heavy dish, but having the combination of raw fruits and veggies on the pizza made it light and unlike any pizza I had tried before.
- The dessert was a small cake with ice cream, whip cream and frozen fig. It was a delicate and decadent display.
- Before I left, I took home a pack of fresh figs for about 500 yen. The figs were ripe and ready to eat.
The cafe is small but makes good use of space, with seating inside and outside, as well as a small display of items for sale in front of the kitchen space. However, it’s a bit of a hike to get there, so you probably need a car to find it most easily. There is a parking lot a couple houses over. I don’t believe there is an English menu, and you shouldn’t expect to speak much English to the wait staff, but they were very gracious and kind.
Overall, it was a delicious experience with cuisine I'd never imagined -- that alone was worth the trip.
- Hours* - (Open Wednesday-Sunday)
- 10 a.m. to midnight
- Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Search “いちじくカフェ - キッチンさわ” to find it on Facebook, but note that the page is all in Japanese. (*Hours are according to a card I picked up at the cafe.)