Review: Snoopy Chaya in Nishiki Market, Japan
The thing was…I couldn’t remember if I had been to the Snoopy Chaya before in my 2015 trip to Japan. I certainly remembered walking past it in my wander through Nishiki Market, but wasn’t sure if I had subjected my family to the most popular foreign dog in Japan…
…then I picked up a ticket from the machine downstairs from the Chaya, which noted an estimated wait of 50 minutes for a seat at the restaurant, and was certain I hadn’t been.
I was not good at waiting in 2015.
Snoopy is not Japanese, or even the main character of its comic series; he’s the pet beagle of some kid called Charlie Brown. Snoopy was created by the American comic artist Charles M. Schultz in 1950 as a character in Peanuts; a comic series that ran from 1950 to 2000. Peanuts was and is a phenomenon and Snoopy was so popular a character in some countries like Japan he’s even more well known than Charlie Brown.
And I mean…are you surprised?
It’s a cute cartoon animal made up of simple lines and soft round features; Japan’s a sucker for this and so am I.
I spent a while browsing the merchandise in the gift shop on the ground floor, it was all cute and overpriced as expected; except for the Snoopy ice cream store in the corner facing the Nishiki market crowd.
Eventually we were given the cue by the machine to head up to the Chaya and ushered to a table for two. This ticket system was very useful as it gave you an estimated time of entry; allowing you to browse the market outside instead of waiting in line for an hour.
I wasn’t so keen on getting any of the mains here, since my stomach wasn’t feeling very well and I had barely eaten that day; so I settled for a matcha latte and ice cream. To be honest even if I was feeling up for it, I probably would have eaten somewhere else first; themed cafes were not known for its food quality after all. My boyfriend ordered the “Charlie Brown fuwa fuwa soufflé roll cake” (Oh Japan…) and hojicha latte; our meal came to 3,330.00 JPY / 21.18 GBP. This was pretty expensive for Japan, but as always reasonable in comparison to London; most things in life are.
The lattes had a Snoopy shaped marshmallow bobbing in them, which was very cute, but there wasn’t anything else particularly special about the drinks. They tasted fine; Japan rarely did green tea wrong, and the marshmallow was soft and melted nicely into the latte. Similar could be said for the ice cream; it tasted like a store bought dessert. Of course the stores in Japan being pretty awesome, so this was no complaint. The wafer decoration was tasteless but looked nice.
Apparently the cake was pretty soft and mild, and my boyfriend really liked the lemon sauce and said it complimented the mildly sweet taste of the cake well. The Charlie Brown wafer was especially cute since it imitated Charlie’s round head.
As always, themed cafes are mainly to feed the eyes and the Snoopy Chaya was particularly pretty with its old fashioned tea house design. The furniture, beams and columns were made of dark wood; there were paper screens and cloth coverings, and the colour theme was a muted cream and brown.
It was definitely the most subtle of the themed cafes I’ve visited. Aside from small details in the ceiling beams, screens and the large plush toy at the entrance; the Snoopy theme wasn’t too garish. This made the restaurant a very good introduction to themed cafes for the sceptical; feel free to bring grown up men and old people along.
There’s no need to bring a child along to justify your presence is all I’m saying.
Unfortunately my experience at the Snoopy Chaya was tapered by my feeling unwell that day; which probably killed my already pretty poor taste buds, so take this review with a huge pinch of salt regarding the food.
The Snoopy Chaya is the perfect place for people who like cute things and is a good introduction to the themed café scene; bring a good chunk of change, a camera and you’re good to go.
Address: 480 Nakauoyacho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8125, Japan
Opening Hours: 10:30 – 17:30
Tip: It’s located in the middle of Nishiki Market on your right hand side when travelling from the west of the market. The Chaya is right between Karasuma and Kawaramachi stations.