Art Cafe ELK
ELK is a friendly little cafe that offers up tasty food and drink at reasonable prices as well as hosts international language and friendship events.
It is easy to find, just outside of Peace park, and open everyday from 9 to 9, ELK is a welcoming place to drop in for a bite, drink or dessert at any time.
One day while walking toward the covered Hondori arcade from the Peace Park, I was drawn to ELK by the “Vegetarian Menu” sign which I had never before seen in Japan. I went up to find a friendly little cafe that serves not only decent food and drinks, but also hosts many international friendship and language events.
ELK opened in 2013 and aims to be a friendly space for international visitors, residents and locals. I should mention that although I like ELK, the decor is a mish-mash of random art and decorations for sale, and the big window view of the car park opposite, but it is still worth recommending.
When I sat down, I mentioned that I was a vegetarian and to my surprise I was shown a whole page of vegetarian options including okonomiyaki (Kansai style) and udon noodles which normally are made with fish flakes or seafood stock. I have never been to a cafe in Japan with so many meoptions. I chose the vegetarian panini and the staff made sure that cheese was okay before making it.
Although the panini was made with usual sliced bread, making it a tasty, toasted sandwich, it was yummy. For the lunch set a sandwich or other choice main comes with a side salad and a drink for just over 850 yen. I saw others enjoying some of the desserts like pancakes with ice cream and fruit, they looked great- definitely will have to come back for a sweet treat.
I like the big sofa seating next to the window and it may sound weird but the fancy toilet was fun. That may sound strange, but the more restaurants and cafes you visit in this country, the more you appreciate the grandeur of the Japanese WC. This one is complete with a modern, high tech toilet and the decor is a throw back to your aunty’s decadent washroom or a Japanese coffee shop of the 80’s. ELK is not simply a cafe, it has become a community building venue.
As an “international language cafe”, they host nights for people to meet and chat in a target language. When I visited they advertised Mondays for Japanese and Tuesdays for English and Korean, these lessons are free but they ask all participants to order a drink or item from the menu in order to take part.
They also have monthly international events for people to join in hopes of making new friends. The flyer for this month said there would be a cover charge of 1,500 yen for people to join including a drink and some food. The price is discounted to 1,000 yen if you are a tourist or an international student. This is a nice opportunity to make some new connections or have a chance to meet other friendly folk while in Hiroshima. (*event times and dates are subject to change, please check with ELK for the latest information).