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Girljin in Japan By Rachel Tranter Davies
Sweet Valentine from Kyoto



Kyoto has become a cacao-lover's dream of late, with smallbatch and boutique chocolateries (of great acclaim) establishing themselves all over town. Cocoa cafes, shops and even a Cacao Bar that pairs decadent desserts with cocktails, this year we envisage a very sweet Valentine indeed.





Coco Kyoto is not only creating delicious chocolate treats, but they have been causing a stir with their non-sugar and vegan raw chocolate offerings too. Using high quality cacao, the aim of Coco is to serve up all the benefits of chocolate as a superfood (after all it was revered by the Aztecs as medicine for myriad of ailments), without the unhealthy processed elements and what's more? They're incredible. Pure cacao flavours shine through and the packaging is simply luxurious. Gokomachi Branch: 11:00-19:30; Closed Tues.; Marui Shijo Branch: 10:30-20:30; coco-cacao.jp


COCO Raw Tablet “Seasonal” (1,450 yen) by Coco Kyoto


Dandelion Chocolate is a bean to bar specialist that is utterly focused on producing the best possible chocolate from trusted suppliers and fine raw ingredients. Their Gion machiya is on one of the most picturesque streets in the city and the products themselves echo the beauty of the premise design. They have a cafe onsite and on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays their Cacao Bar is pushing boundaries with an indulgent cocktail and dessert pairing menu within stunning surroundings. 10:00-19:00; dandelionchocolate.jp


''Ubatama'' -collaboration with the time-honored Japanese sweet shop, Kameya Yoshinaga (1,058 yen) by Dandelion Chocolate


Plus Chocolat is new on the Kyoto scene, opening in November last year. This quaint cafe on Miyagawacho offers a chocolate tasting menu along with hot beverages. As you'd expect from a Miyagawacho establishment, the interiors are stunningly traditional and everything is of an exceptional standard, especially the chocolate. 10:00-18:00; Closed Wed.; www.pluschocolat.net


Finally, a firm favourite of Kyoto locals and visitors alike; Cacao 365 Gion Store by Malebranche. Originally a well-established patisserie, in 2014 the company remodelled a traditional Kyoto-style machiya in Gion, opening a chocolaterie which creates a host of uniquely-Kyoto style sweets. Lucky cat chocolate lollies, ''Kyo-no Sora'' chocolate bonbons adorned with the city's historical site motifs, and their ''cacao 365'', a signature chocolate bearing seasonal Kyoto designs which, following the Zen philosophy ''Every day is different, this is the best treasure,'' changes each and every day of the year. 10:00-18:00; www.malebranche.co.jp/store/95/


Cute ''Cacao-chan'' Stick chocolate (430 yen) by Cacao 365 Gion Store



Rachel is a food, drink and travel writer. Originally from England, she recently relocated to Japan and is now finding her feet in Kyoto. You can find her blogging tweeting and instagramming her experiences at Girljin in Japan.




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