And it did not disappoint!
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was Japanese coffee shop Komeda Coffee. The nationwide cafe, lauded–at least on our site–as the home of epic desserts and delicious lunch fare, and chosen as the most satisfying cafe in Japan by customers, had to start somewhere, and that somewhere was a single cafe in Kamiyama-cho, Nagoya.
And since that cafe is still open to business today, serving as the main branch, we decided, as fans of the old-timey coffee shop, that it would be cool to visit the oldest Komeda Coffee and enjoy some retro decor, delicious coffee, and food.
Unfortunately, the Kamiyama-cho branch was renovated in 2022, so it no longer has the same retro feel and therefore wouldn’t satisfy our desire to travel back in time. We would have instead gone to the second branch, the Kikui branch, also in Nagoya, but it closed in 2014, so we had to settle for the third branch, the Takaoka branch, which was opened in 1972 and, with no renovations or updates, is currently the real oldest Komeda Coffee in Japan.
Most Komeda Coffees are stand-alone buildings, memorable for the brick accents on a light orange facade, as well as their red awnings. The Takaoka branch, however, was completely different. It had none of the standard identifiers and looked more like a mom-and-pop coffee shop than a major chain restaurant.
Inside, the furnishings, walls, and floors were all made of wood, and with a radio playing quietly in the background, the place had a very laid-back atmosphere that felt like a scene from an ’80s film. It was a very small space, with just three counter seats and six tables snugly fit inside.
Upon stepping in, we were greeted by the owners, a couple, one of whom said, “Welcome! We allow smoking in here. Is that alright? Minors and many people who dislike cigarettes prefer not to be seated.”
Now that they’d asked, we did notice that the shop smelled a bit like cigarette smoke. For our short visit, we didn’t mind and it was honestly just part of the fragrance of the place, so we said it was fine and the couple led us to a table…
…which ended up being a nostalgic video game table made of brown wood, with a monitor on the surface and analog buttons on either side of the seats.
We’d been in the cafe for about one minute, and in that minute it felt like we’d stepped back in time to a good old-fashioned cafe. We were instantly fans.
When we went to order, we were surprised that the menu was not your classic booklet but a laminated sheet curled into a tube.
▼ And the drink menu was a standard piece of paper rolled up and stuffed inside.
The menu seemed a bit small, but a quick glance revealed that it had more or less the same items as other Komeda Coffees. That’s when we noticed the pink sticky note attached to the top of the food menu.
It said, “We have Chili Dogs.”
In an instant, we knew what we were getting, and it was a good choice because we learned that most Komeda Coffees stopped selling chili dogs in 2022 when they changed the menu. So if you’re someone who misses them, you’ll want to plan a trip to Nagoya to visit the Takaoka branch.
With our main meal decided, we were then drawn to the dessert menu, which contained Pudding Soft Serve, Coffee Jelly, Fruit Soft Serve, Mini Shiro Noir, and…for some reason, Beef Stew.
The owners told us that the Pudding Soft Serve and Fruit Soft Serve are original to the Takaoka branch, so of course we had to order one of them. We chose the Fruit Soft Serve.
And here was everything we ordered:
▼ Chili Dog (480 yen [US$3.38]) and Iced Au Lait (400 yen)
▼Fruit Soft Serve (700 yen)
As a whole, it was not a very Komeda Coffee-like order, which was, in this case, a good thing. We were pleasantly surprised by the addition of a small, complementary package of okaki, thin strips of fried mochi, which we felt like we might have seen at our grandma’s house at some point. They were perfect palate cleansers.
Anyway, the taste test! The hot dog part of the Chili Dog was piping hot, and the bread was soft and fluffy. It was absolutely delicious. The Iced Au Lait was the perfect way to cool down in the summer heat.
The Fruit Soft Serve seemed to include a whole sliced banana, which was fine by us. There was so much fruit piled on! It was super filling and delicious. Clearly, despite being a little different from the others, the Takaoka branch was still a Komeda Coffee, providing delicious food in satisfying portions.
We later learned when preparing this article that the first ten Komeda Coffee branches are lovingly called the “Old Komedas” by fans. Since the Takaoka branch, at least, combines the old-fashioned, ’70s and ’80s-era cafe comfort with the reliability of Komeda Coffee, we could easily understand why they’re gaining popularity these days.
Unfortunately, as of 2023 only three of the Old Komedas are still in business today — the Takaoka branch, the Imaike branch (also in Nagoya), and, of course, the original branch in Kamiyamacho, which no longer retains its old-fashioned charm. Sadly, the Imaike branch has withdrawn from the franchise and is no longer an actual Komeda Coffee, so the Takaoka branch is really the only true Komeda Coffee left that still has the spirit of the Old Komedas.
As such, we might consider this quaint old cafe to be an unofficial national treasure that we must protect at all costs. If you find yourself in Nagoya, perhaps checking out the Pikachu Afternoon Tea or seeking out Samurai Chick Pudding Cakes, consider adding a stop at Japan’s oldest Komeda Coffee to your itinerary and help preserve a snapshot in time.
Komeda Coffe Takaoka Branch / コメダ珈琲店 高岳店
Aichi-ken Nagoya-shi Higashi-ku Izumi 2-21-3
Hours: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays