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A Trip to Nepal with Toronto's Himalayan Java House

“No wifi available, talk to each other.”

I love this note stuck at the entrance of Himalayan Java House, a cozy little cafe located a short walk north of Yonge & Eglinton. This Nepalese owned & run cafe has no wifi, houses a mini-library and served coffees with adorably unique art!

Upon entering this wood framed cafe, one notices the simplistic and triangular flag-laden decor that offer a rural touch so reminiscent of Himalayan valleys. Its three two-seater tables, two two-seater couches and a longer six-seater table adds to the quaint, airy and comfy vibe. The menu is thankfully not so limited: Chai Lattes, Hot Chocolate, the usual Coffee options, Smoothies, Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Muffins of sorts, Cookies and even the traditional Samosa are all on offer. If you’re lucky (or early), you’ll be able to grab one of the thick brown-leather couches: either nestled beside a mini shelf of books-and-toys or against a large street-facing window, lined with tiny potted plants and half covered by wooden blinds that let in just enough sunlight to make you feel warm. It was a perfect spot for two souls who were looking to begin their morning with a quiet and peaceful start.

Service is fast, as ours took merely 3-4 minutes to arrive despite a full house. Himalayan Java House’s USP is that it almost always serves you a smile too, for their usual selection of coffee comes draped in surprise art - “Coffee art!” Made only between certain hours, these poster-perfect designs make you truly appreciate their unassuming baristas. My Hot Chocolate had a cute bunny on it. Mr. Fly’s Chai Latte had a young lad with cinnamon powder for hair. The beautiful foam almost makes you feel guilty to drink these tempting cups for fear of ruining it! But that’s okay, for the taste is not lost under the shadow of its more visually-appealing precursor. It is perhaps the simplicity of the place that makes one appreciate even its highly simple Grilled Cheese sandwich or the little cup of tangy tomato sauce that accompanies their mini Samosas. That said, their carrot cakes and the scones have been just as good.

Himalayan Java House, as so many other gems, is easy to miss in your walk around this neighbourhood. Yet, it is only upon visiting the place and observing the consistency of footfalls that you realize a silent cult-status it has carved for itself. And as always, nothing binds you from hopping on each bite to a short trip over the Asian highlands as you soak yourself in the warm sunlight filtering through the blinds. And if you can grab one of the many books - such as one narrating the experience of Dalai Lama and aptly titled ‘The Universe in a Single Atom’ - all the better.

Saturday had been off to a good start for us. But as we stepped out, their ‘Hours of Operation; caught our eye. Penciled in a simple piece of paper and stuck to the glass door, without any attempt at pretence or sheen, it underlined the theme of this place: Himalayan Java House is closed on Sundays and on all other days after 5 PM - a classic reminder that the owners of this place do follow their philosophy of work-detox and family-time. We smiled and walked.

Update: For the Indians out there, this should bring back some memories of childhood!

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