Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ran Hotei ランほてい 

I have been meaning to post about this special place for so long. Feeling more than a little guilty Randy san! Gomenasai.....
I'd stopped into Ran Hotei a couple of times when shopping in Sanjo Shotengai (an old fashioned shopping arcade on Sanjo Street on the western edge of Kyoto city) to enjoy some of their completely addictive desserts (like the kinako and caramel fudge cake above - TO DIE FOR!), wonderful selection of teas and drinks and even to grab some take out such as the Matcha (green tea) fudge cake and the Houjicha pudding (roasted green tea flavoured creamy custard) both below - but on the third occasion I managed to meet the now famous owner Randy Channell - an ex-pat Kyoto local who has become a master of tea. Randy-san both performs and teaches tea ceremony and has, many times over, been the subject of Japanese TV programmes and magazine articles on the matter. 
To be honest I was expecting someone of his talents and long standing within the community to possibly be a little snobbish or at the least frustrating... Some foreigners residing in Japan try a little too hard to 'become Japanese' which can be equally jarring to fellow ex-pats and the Japanese locals ... But he was NONE of that. Really down to earth, passionate about what he does and trying his best to share his knowledge and maintain a successful business.
If you are looking for some education in English about the art of Japanese Tea in a non intimidating way (held in an intimate space above the teahouse) - or just a really lovely spot for a cuppa and something sweet - or some of Randy's homemade curry (he was making some while I was there - it was also delish!) then do look up Randy Channell or Ran Hotei.
The space is really lovely for spending time in  - particularly towards the back of the teahouse/cafe - I love the old tiles and manhole cover inserted into the flooring on the way to the bathroom by the garden which is an unexpected tranquil patch in an old school shopping arcade. There are many finds like these in Kyoto an I love stumbling across them - but it is also nice to have a heads up when you are planning a trip so I am happy to be able to share them with you. Sanjo shotengai is a a short walk south from Nijo Station and worth making a visit if you are in the area.  The "local" vibe in the arcade is a nice step away from the regular tourist haunts. 
And for a closer look at the sweet stuff....
Houjcha pudding
                     Caramel fudge cake with kinako (nutty roasted soybean powder) cream
Matcha fudge cake with fresh cream

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