Elv Café; The Hidden Gem of Nagasaki

(Original article can be found here: http://en.japantravel.com/view/elv-cafe )

A quaint café located in the heart of Nagasaki City, Elv will capture your heart and remind you why you fell in love with cafes in the first place.


My need for small, unique cafés could be perceived as something of an addiction. Without them, I feel myself growing anxious, laying in bed in the mornings wondering what I will do with my life, staring at my simple, hand-me-down kettle with a sigh of bitter disappointment. Considering the fact that I grew up in Britain, my love of cafés honestly comes as no surprise. Upon moving to Nagasaki, I made it my goal to find a café in which I could enjoy the peacefulness of my own thoughts and scribble away in my diary. I was worried at first that I would be doomed to spend my days in the ever-crowded Starbucks, unable to think a coherent thought that deviated from the path of ‘Damn, there are a lot of foreigners in here’.

That was when I discovered Elv.


A small café, situated alongside Megane-Bashi and its ever-flowing koi-filled river, Elv can be spotted by its small sign and myriad of plants that guard the doorway. With its smooth music and earthy tones, you will feel at home the moment your foot steps through the doorway. For a vegetarian, opening the door to a café you know you are bound to fall in love with is always daunting, faced with the horrid truth that there’s a huge chance you may not be able to eat there. Thankfully, that was not the case with Elv.

Despite the menu being small, its various options are bound to tickle the fancy of anyone who decides to stop by for a bite to eat. And for those of you who appreciate the sweets over the savouries, the chocolate cake will most certainly hit the spot.

With the cold weather still nipping at your nose, Elv has a delicious and very effective way of warming you up. Hot wine! Appealing to the eye and taste buds, it’s a drink for all your senses. Coming in a glass that will bring the warmth back to your hands, this delicious beverage will slide down your throat with an ease that is welcomed. Just be prepared for the moment you look at your bill and realise you had four too many glasses than previously intended. “Just a taste,” my friends said.

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“But I’m not really a coffee kind of person, I would much rather a nice beer,” I hear you say? Well fear not, for Elv caters for everyone. Besides the usual staples, this wonderfully diverse café also has a small range of alcoholic beverages, its most notorious being Belle-Vue Kreik. Having heard many a good word about this cherry flavoured liqueur, I decided to give it a go. The tangy and unmistakable flavour of cherry danced along the sides of my tongue before sliding down with ease. Like an unsweetened cider, this drink is the perfect balance between sweet and tart.

With its eclectic art, smooth music and delicious food, this unique café run by the ever-welcoming George Nakamura will make you fall in love with cafés all over again.

4 thoughts on “Elv Café; The Hidden Gem of Nagasaki

  1. Hi Naomi! I’m a 22 year old university student in Canada majoring in Linguistics and TESOL. I’ve been keeping the JET program in the back of my mind cause I’ve studied Japanese and would love to visit Japan. However… I have a big problem with traveling overseas anywhere – I am seriously allergic to a myriad of foods including every type of nut, legumes including soybean, and many fruits. I came across your blog and was curious if you might know what kinds of foods are available in Japan. Like is there a foreign food section in the grocery store with American, Hispanic, etc. foods? could you buy tortilla chips and salsa, for example? I know fresh foods aren’t a problem, but I’m not sure I could live without any easy to get snack foods! I have a super limited diet, so any boxed snack foods I can eat really help me out. I know Japan is full of miso, tofu, edamame, and more! I’d probably not be able to eat out at all. 😦 but, I keep wondering if living there might even be possible. Let me know what you think!

    • Hello Molly! Wow that’s a lot of food there. I can’t say 100% it will be okay because I wouldn’t want to risk saying that, and I think it would be a little difficult. However! (Depending of course on where you are placed) foreign food shops are available! Places like Kaldi and A price are great because they stock primarily foreign foods from all over. Japanese people are also very helpful, so I’m sure if you wanted to eat out, you could talk to the owner of the place or a chef. I’m not allergic to anything, but as a vegetarian I always have to ask about my food content. Thankfully, my requests never seem to be a problem and many places ask if I have allergies and such.

      If you were thinking about doing the JET program, when you apply I think it would be a good idea to state your allergies clearly and when you choose your place try and put down big cities and give the reason that it would allow you to have many more foods accessible!

      I think it would be a challenge, but hopefully one that is worth it! Japan is a great place and the people are very accommodating for the most part! Sorry I can’t give you any guarantees, but I think with careful planning it could be done!

      • Thanks! Yeah, that’s kind of what I’m thinking – it would be really difficult. I can’t even eat out here in the U.S. So I can’t imagine in Japan. :/ I am studying in Canada right now and I have to stock up on things like tortillas, chips, and canned soup when I come home to visit because I can’t even find certain allergen free brands there. But, I’ll still keep Japan in mind…. Maybe someday! Good luck with your teaching!

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