It can be tricky making your own soufflé. First you have to make custard from scratch, and then you need to ensure the egg white meringue is fluffy and not over folded. After that you need to ensure the oven heat is just right, so it slowly rises, but not overdo it. Worse of all, it could collapse in the middle. As the cooking instructor said in the movie Sabrina, “The soufflé must be like 2 butterflies, dancing the waltz in the summer breeze.”
So when the opportunity came up to try some soufflé made by someone else in the heart of Kyoto’s Okazaki district, I jumped at it. There are actually two Rokusei establishments on the same block, but for soufflés, come to Satei which is a small thirty seat café.
Rokusei Satei is an institution amongst the food temples of Kyoto. Many aficionados rave about this place; however, a number of locals have never been here. As Kyoto has hundreds of good quality cafes, this is not a surprise, and if you come here late on a weekday afternoon, you can grab a seat quite easily. Don’t linger too long after closing time, or they will start escalating their hints to get you out of here.
For a city that is also known for fusion cuisine (think pasta with gingko nuts eaten with chopsticks, or soya milk donuts and cheesecake), Rokusei Satei keeps strictly to a European offering. Even the menu has a touch of French. For example, Soufflé de Myrtille au fromage blanc on the menu had me racing for my dictionary to work out that it means Cream Cheese Blueberry Souffle, while Soufflé de Courge loses its mystique when translated as pumpkin. Other flavors include Banana, Chocolate, and a summer favorite, Coconut & Mango Sauce. Here the key is to mix the sauce with the fluffy soufflé to create a molten sensation.
Like the movie Sabrina, there are detailed instructions. The twenty minute wait while the soufflé is baked allows you to study the 'How to eat our Souffle' instruction card, including warnings about not taking photos when you should be concentrating on when to put the sauce on the soufflé, as timing is everything. By the way, you are allowed to take photos here, and the little stone garden near the entrance is quite photogenic. It exudes a kind of elegance that is suited for “ladies who lunch”.
So, no, I still can’t make a perfectly formed soufflé, but at least I now know how to eat one.