Another excellent kissaten (喫茶店: coffee shop) in Ōsaka is Bar ISTA.
In the same general area as Dōtonbori but a few streets off the main drag and thus in a much quieter part of town, this small hole-in-the-wall has a warm, cozy and very friendly vibe to it.
The proprietor, Fumiaki Nozato (野里史眧), does more than just brew a great brew. He creates art: latte art!
He is so talented that not only did he win a competition a few years back but now he teaches wannabe baristas how to do the same.
I suppose when latte artistry is of such a high standard it’s easy for the recipient to be dazzled so that the kōhī (コーヒー: coffee) is of secondary importance.
But not at Bar ISTA. The coffee is superb. As good as any I’ve had in Japan.
And the set-menu of pasta + coffee at lunch for ¥900 is a bargain.
As is often the case with shops like his, there are knick knacks decorating the premises: kawaii neko (cute cats), a jar full of corks, objects made from twisted wire, coffee beans (of course), a wind-up chattering-teeth toy, and chain links.
I’m sure they all have some significance and perhaps I’ll find out over time.
At night, the shop lives up to it’s clever name and becomes a bā (バー: bar).
I return in the evening and as I enter the ongaku (音楽: music) playing is mellow: Jack Johnston. Setting the mood and creating just the right atmosphere.
I sit down to enjoy Shiraz by the glass. But there’s also Heartland beer on-tap and various liqueurs.
What’s more, an assortment of dishes are available at very reasonable prices.
My pasta with a cream sauce, yasai (野菜: vegetables) and buta niku (豚肉: bacon) is oishii (delicious).
Later the music becomes more up-tempo. Yes, it’s jazz, although with a little more energy than what I’ve been hearing in other places.
I can see myself returning here many, many more times before I depart.