Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Sapporo Cafes: Cafe ZILL - UPDATED

Posting more than once a month? What is this, Wikipedia?

That doesn't make sense, does it?

Anyway, here you are: Cafe ZILL.
UUUUUUPDATE! Zill closed for about a year (despite the lady saying that it would only be closed for three months to me) and when it reopened it was a lot fancier and now only opens in the evenings for dinner. So I can't go there for lunch and check it out. It looks very nice in the evenings though, so I'm sure it's still great. I'll post again if I ever go there but for now I'll leave this here for posterity and take away the tags.

ZILL is on Gyokei Dori which is a nice shopping street that cuts through the - what I like to call - null zone in the middle of the street car loop. Is that a bad way to put it? I'm sure there's all sorts of awesome stuff tucked away in that area (Yamahana, I guess?) but the fact that it's off the subway line (Horohirabashi on the Namboku line is the closest station) and hemmed in by the street car line makes me always think of it as a kind of 'heart of darkness' or perhaps a 'dark country' whose borders it is perilous to cross. It is neither. It is a nice suburban neighbourhood nestled up next to the city centre and now I work there one day a week.

And on that day I go looking for somewhere to eat lunch, and it didn't take me long to find ZILL. ZILL seems to be subtitled both "Soul Soup Shop" and "Creative Lounge" which should give you a good idea what it's like. It's a cozy little cafe, heavy on the dark wood and vintage furnishings (perhaps a little too dark? that doesn't seem to be a problem around here - every branch of Miyakoshiya Coffee feels like they've carved the walls from the darkest of dark chocolate), and the kind of place where you can buy handmade bags alongside the regular cafe stuff.

It's a divinely relaxing place, a lot like Nesco in Kita-Ku, and as such perfect for a slow lunch on a crazy day. Unlike Nesco though, their music kind of sucks. The guy at Nesco plays an amazing mix of down tempo contemporary indie, most of which I don't know, whereas ZILL tends to play those annoying CDs of lounge and bossanova covers of pop and rock songs. Fuck, I'm coming to hate those CDs. Well, clearly that's an exaggeration, because the music never stops me enjoying reading a book in ZILL.

I've been there quite a few times now, and I almost always get something that looks like this:

That's the lunch set. They offer soup, sandwich and rice-ball, and you can choose whichever you like and if it comes to more than 800yen they throw in a free tea or coffee. That's really not bad, and the food is really great. That's a squash potage and cheese omelette sandwich there and both were far better than anything I normally eat during my working day. One criticism would be that their sandwiches are great, but really difficult to eat. One time I got a full sized sandwich and it was HUGE, and so impractically constructed that I made a thorough mess of myself trying to eat it. Chalk that one up to some places in Japan making fancy sandwiches following some theoretical concept of 'the sandwich', that end up as something involving bread and filling that falls into this void between 'closed' and 'open-face'. I've given this too much thought, but then, I give everything too much thought.

So I don't like the music and their sandwiches are tricky, but those aren't serious criticisms and ZILL is a weekly godsend for me. All of the food is delicious, the coffee that I tried was good and it's a really nice, warm place to relax. It's out of the way of most people I would imagine, but if you're in the area, check it out. And of course it's on the map!

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