The cake set, deliciously simple (Photo: Laura Welch)

Atorie Cafe

A local cafe with history

The cake set, deliciously simple (Photo: Laura Welch)
Laura Welch   - 3 min read

There are many reasons to go to a cafe, and Sendai offers something for everyone. There are larger chains, there are themed cafes, there are places that pride themselves on the quality of their food or how local their ingredients are. Atorie is a different kind of cafe, small and without an extensive menu: it's a local cafe, a place for people and conversation.

It's a short walk (about 5 minutes) from Rikuzen-Ochiai station on the JR Senzan line. At the south exit, turn left at the crossroads. Just before the next crossroads it'll be on your right, opposite the kouban (police box). It's very unassuming, but you can easily check if you have the right building by peeking through the window: half of it is filled with plants.

One of my other favorite features are the lights, which reach down from the high ceiling. It's quite unusual to see a ceiling like that in Japan, but it works well, adding a sense of space to the small building. It feels quite cozy, small decorations providing individuality alongside odd knick-knacks from various places vying for space with randomly-titled books.

The menu (there seems to be just one sheet), printed onto a piece of thin leather, is only in Japanese; the lady who runs Atorie only speaks Japanese, but she's very friendly. She has lived in the area her whole life, and has many tales to tell.

The cafe was built 30 years ago, the site having been empty since the last building, a futon shop, was destroyed. And if you want more history, the furniture in Atorie is modeled after the elementary school tables and chairs of the owner's childhood.

There isn't much on the menu and it might not be anything special, but it's good and the prices are very reasonable. The coffee is made up fresh in tiny percolators and served in lovely china. The chocolate cake is mostly chocolate mousse, with pieces of nuts for crunch. It goes very well with a hot cup of tea.

Atorie is a small, local cafe with a homely atmosphere. It offers a bit of food and drink, but its main offering is company and conversation, and perhaps an inviting place to relax with a book, hidden from the road by a screen of plants.

Laura Welch

Laura Welch @laura.welch

One of my favourite things about Japan is the wonderful variety of food, and I love to share what I find. When I'm not eating, you might find me singing karaoke or walking around hoping to make new discoveries!