Breakfast at Hotel Anteroom: Creative, Eclectic Menu Embodies the “New Kyoto”
Guideto JapanFood and Drink Travel
- Sandwiches and pastries (up to three plates)
- Salad with homemade dressing and toppings
- Yogurt with homemade jams and toppings
- Detox water
- Coffee or tea with meringue cookies
Among the key trends in today’s changing hospitality industry is the strategy pioneered by Ace Hotels, which has made its mark by converting older urban properties to stylish yet affordable accommodations catering to specific market segments.
The “old is new” approach has scored a hit in Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital, in the form of Hotel Anteroom Kyoto, which opened in 2011. Enlisting the aid of noted young artists and designers, the creators of Hotel Anteroom took an old yobikō(*1) dormitory south of Kyoto station—an area relatively neglected by tourist traffic—and turned it into a hip boutique hotel offering unique facilities and services at business-hotel rates.
The Anteroom is a theme hotel of sorts, the theme being contemporary art and culture. Directly adjoining the main lobby is a spacious gallery devoted to contemporary artists. Original paintings and sculptures adorn the lobby, lounge, hallways, and guest rooms. The garden, as well as a number of guest rooms, is the work of noted designers. The pieces, selected in collaberation with renowned sculptor Nawa Kōhei, imbue the entire hotel with creative energy.
The same spirit informs the Anteroom’s breakfast buffet, one of the hotel’s major attractions. A brief foray into the morning room is enough to convince anyone that this is not your typical hotel breakfast. The first indication is the tempting array of bread items on display: two different artisanal sandwiches and a plate of home-baked pastries. What to choose? A server resolves the dilemma with a cheerful reminder that the buffet includes any three bread plates. Sandwiches are assembled fresh for each guest and served with a smoothie.
At the central buffet tables, guests can help themselves to soup, salad (including a selection of toppings), yogurt (along with homemade jams and toppings), juice, and coffee or tea (including hōjicha chai). A suitably light and casual vibe pervades each component, right down to the style of cutlery, but there is nothing careless or haphazard about the food or its presentation.
This delightful breakfast spread comes to you courtesy of the Anteroom Meals team, a small band of young professionals charged with developing an exciting breakfast menu and preparing the food fresh each morning. It is an eclectic little group with wide-ranging creative interests. Team leader Yaguchi Yukie (dubbed the “spice queen” by her colleagues), is not only a graduate student in nutrition but also an enthusiastic illustrator and photographer. One team member works in graphic design, another sings in a band, and a third uses her spare time to pursue her interest in architecture.
As a group, they embody an important but sometimes ignored current of Kyoto culture: creativity and innovation. “Outsiders tend to equate Kyoto with ancient Japanese culture,” says team member Morimoto Aki. “But we’ve always been very open to new trends. Nowadays, artisanal bread and gourmet coffee are a big part of Kyoto’s food scene. Our menu partakes of that culture, while creating something completely original.”
Emphasizing creativity and avoiding regional stereotypes, the team deftly integrates “classic” ingredients like matcha and yuba into its distinctly contemporary and original menu. Breakfast at Hotel Anteroom Kyoto is a delicious introduction to the old capital’s new wave of art and culture. Here’s what was on the menu when we visited.
Sandwiches and pastries
(choose any three plates; selection varies daily)
Pita sandwich: Tandoori chicken, curried cabbage, tomato, & lemon
Baguette sandwich: Galician octopus seasoned with cayenne pepper and paprika
Pastry plate: Cinnamon roll and cranberry twist
Spinach, parsley, and lemon; served along with sandwich and/or pastry
Soup du jour
Salad with homemade dressing and toppings
Toppings: Yuba chips, kabocha squash chips, deep-fried chirimen jako (baby sardines), bacon bits, fried onion, grated cheese, crushed sesame seeds, cherry tomatoes
Yogurt with homemade jams and toppings
Homemade jam (seasonal): Kiwi, raspberry, blueberry, and kumquat
Toppings: Sweet black beans, kinako (roasted soybean powder)
Lime and dill
Coffee or tea with meringue cookies
Hōjicha chai: Roasted Japanese tea with ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and black peppercorns
Selection of black teas
Cocoa and strawberry meringue cookies
Hotel Anteroom Kyoto
Address: 7 Higashikujō-aketachō, Minami-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, 601-8044
Breakfast: ¥1,000 (consumption tax included); guests only
Hours: 7–11 am (last order 11 am)
(Originally written in Japanese. Photos by Kusumoto Ryō, except where otherwise noted. Series title written by Kanazawa Shōko. Artwork in title image by Shinagawa Mika.)
(*1) ^ A private supplementary school offering intensive university-entrance exam preparation.