Cobb Salad at the Cafe & Books Bibliotheque Umeda in the Ema building (Photo: Alexxis (CC BY-ND 2.0))

Cafe & Books Bibliotheque Umeda

Stunning food and culture space close to Osaka Station

Cobb Salad at the Cafe & Books Bibliotheque Umeda in the Ema building (Photo: Alexxis (CC BY-ND 2.0))
Bonson Lam   - 3 min read

Umeda is the northern gateway to the Osaka Central Business District, with several iconic buildings including the Floating Garden Observatory (Osaka Sky Building), Grand Front Osaka, and Osaka Forum No 1 to No 4. (Dai 1 to Dai 4).It is a precinct pulsing with energy day and night, but also a maze of shops, cultural and entertainment spaces.

Cafe & Books Bibliotheque is a great addition to the Osaka Station/ Umeda Dining scene, and a great place to relax after shopping at the E-ma shopping center or while waiting for or coming off your train or overnight inter city bus, as there are several late dining as well as brunch options, with food service available from 11 am to 10:30 pm. This cafe also has an art and craft focused bookstore next door.

Depending on the time of year, they have workshops for parents and their children to enjoy making handicrafts together, such as Christmas tree workshops in December, or candle, soap and even henna decoration classes during the year.

For dinner, the pasta and dessert set is great value at 1980 yen, with your choice of pasta, dessert and drink. Alternatively the pasta set with your choice of salad, pasta and drink is the healthy choice at 1800 yen.

The pasta set course starts with a simple but well-made and airy chunky slice of freshly baked bread, reminiscent of the earthy country kitchens in Tuscany. The salad showcases the vegetables with a light vinaigrette which highlights rather than overwhelms the lettuce and tomatoes.

For main I had the eggplant pasta soaked in a light broth with chunky yet tender slices of boneless chicken slices, topped with Shiso and wild herbs. The shredded Shiso or Japanese Perilla ‎leaves adds bite and provides an astringent counterpoint to the hearty and filling pasta. Shiso is traditionally used with sushi, so here is a creative and contemporary interpretation of an Italian dish with a Japanese influence with the pairing of the eggplant and the Shiso leaves.

The desserts are to die for here. Their seasonal menu when I was here featured pumpkin and sweet potato parfaits with crispy toffee apple slivers. The comfort of the pumpkin slice is counterbalanced by the luscious vanilla bean ice cream. My friends tried the exquisite airy Mille-feuille, this time a matching of a traditional French layered dessert with Japanese sensitivity, in the form of autumn chestnuts and orange slices.

Tapas sized items like Spanish Omelette (600 yen) or the Tartine with ricotta cheese and a confiture of figs, prosciutto, and black pepper honey (1200 yen) are available if you like to graze or share, while the shrimp pancake reminds me of the creative pairing of this comfort food with sweet and savory ingredients at Pancake Days.

Getting there

The Cafe & Books Bibliotheque is located in the 2nd basement floor of the E-ma shopping complex, between the Hanshin Department Store and the Osaka Forum No 4 (Dai 4) Buildings. It is an easy five minutes walk from JR Osaka or Umeda Subway stations, although it is easier to get here from Higashi Umeda subway station, as it is more compact and closer than the other stations.

Bonson Lam

Bonson Lam @bonson.lam

I knew my future was destined to be with Japan the moment I flew from Sydney to experience the atmospheric laneways of Kyoto last century.  I am humbled to have met many distinguished people during this time, especially the national living treasures of Japan, such as the doll maker to the Imperia...