A café’s capacity for caffeine, conversation and charm mark it as a unique venue – whether you’re stopping by for a quick cup of coffee, catching up with a friend, or seeking an inspiring ambiance, it’s no question that a café makes for noteworthy experiences. And if there is one café whose character is unparalleled to that of others I’ve seen in San Francisco, it is that of YakiniQ Café.
Nestled in between shops on Post Street and located on the first floor of a Korean barbecue house of the same name, YakiniQ is indeed a hidden gem. Its wooden floors and white walls exhibit the sleek minimalism of modern Japanese interior design, yet the mismatched furniture and quirky decorations – such as a giant spoon and fork on a wall, paintings and white paper lanterns – welcome you with a warm feeling of home.
The café is usually quiet, even on its busier days, and its various seating options make it the ideal place for both work and play – students frequent the individual tables to type away at their laptops (there’s free wi-fi!), while family and friends sit back on the couch. Whether you’re visiting accompanied or alone, YakiniQ is well-stocked with activities to make the most of your time: the back wall consists of a shelf lined with board games and a collection of books. (I have fond memories of Scrabble tournaments with friends and curling up with an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel.)
Looking for some dessert after dinner at the Japantown restaurant mall? YakiniQ offers refreshments guaranteed to satisfy both your thirst and sweet tooth: they serve both hot and cold coffee and tea drinks, some of my favourites being their mocha, chai tea latte and hazelnut latte. As for treats, you’ll find macaroons, cheesecake, napoleon pastries and other delectable desserts of the like. They also serve shaved ice, which makes for the perfect indulgence on a summer day – okay, so a San Francisco summer is a relatively cool summer, but does anyone really need an excuse to try some?
However, the true star of YakiniQ’s menu is their signature sweet potato latte. Known in Korea as the goguma latte, it was talk of this drink that brought me to this quaint little café in the first place. In fact, no visit of mine to YakiniQ is complete without it. Made with real sweet potato, the drink is both delicate and hearty, not to mention extremely comforting. Take that, rainy days!
So if you’re taking a break from shopping in Japantown, looking for a quiet nook to study in during finals week, or want to try out somewhere new to frequent with friends, make YakiniQ your destination. Bring your camera if you’d like to pocket its loveliness to recall later, but there’s no need to get too nostalgic – believe me, you’ll be back here very soon.
1640 Post St (between Laguna St & Buchanan St)
San Francisco, CA 94115
Monday-Thursday, Sunday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.