When I was living in Sendai, one of my favourite things to do was to explore the city on foot. I got fresh air and exercise, and most importantly made some room for the delicious treats that I would inevitably discover! Many of my favourite treats I found in the dozens of mouth-watering cafes and bakeries. The best of them would win my repeat visits. Small, large, local, vegan, specialty, general – it didn’t matter as long as they sold delicious food.
I believe that the best things in life should be shared, so here is my guide to some of the best cafes and bakeries in Sendai. The ones I’ve chosen are mostly independent or part of small chains, and unique to Sendai or Miyagi – the only way to experience them is to travel north!

Conveniently, they’re clustered together in certain areas, so that’s how I’m going to introduce them to you. We’ll start near Sendai station, as it’s a useful central hub and a popular meeting place for locals.

Zunda Saryo
Location: Inside the station, 3rd floor
Specialty: Zunda desserts
Popularity: 10/10 Can run out of most desserts by the afternoon
You can also get a zunda shake to take away, or zunda souvenirs for family and friends.

Café Pamplemousse
Location: 5-10 minutes’ walk west from the station, on Atago-Kamisugi road, third floor
Specialty: Pancakes
Popularity: 8/10 It isn’t always full, but at peak times you may have to wait for a table
The name means “grapefruit” in French, but this place is decorated to the brim with cute rubber ducks of all sizes. See if you can find the white one before the kitchen finishes your order – they’ll call a waitress with a duck horn!

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ID:	1179 There are rubber ducks throughout Cafe Pamplemousse!

Animate Café
Location: Inside E-Beans building, 8th floor
Specialty: Anime and manga-themed food
Popularity: 10/10 Book in advance
This café often rotates its theme to the latest popular manga or anime – as of writing it’s Yugioh. It’s fairly expensive but rather fun – you can even play games to win memorabilia.

Location: 10 minutes’ walk southwest from the station
Specialty: Macrobiotic, organic and vegetarian meals (and their banana bread is divine!)
Popularity: 5/10 Can be busy, but this is still a hidden gem
Ohisamaya has limited opening hours, so check before you go. Next door is a connected shop.

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ID:	1178 One of the many colourful and delicious vegan meals at Ohisamaya

Senz: Soy and Café
Location: Less than 5 minutes’ walk from Itsutsubashi subway station (or 12 from Sendai station)
Specialty: Soy milk smoothies
Popularity: 3/10 A sadly underappreciated café
I found this tiny café by accident when I was looking for somewhere else. It’s one of my favourite finds because it feels so inviting and healthy. It’s also part-shop if you really want to satisfy your craving for soy-related purchases.

Next up are the places that are on, or just a short distance away from, the covered shopping arcades. They’re still convenient to get to, and great for breaking up a day of shopping.

Gontran Cherrier
Location: The Parco end of the covered arcade, a few minutes from the station on foot
Specialty: French-trained baking with Japanese flavours
Popularity: 8/10 There is usually a table free, but it can get crowded around the self-service area
Most of the stores in this relatively small chain are in Tokyo, so this is real treat. You can buy bread, sandwiches and patisserie here, to eat in or take away. It can be a little more expensive than other bakeries, but the skill and quality of the goods are obvious.

Oak Café
Location: Just off the Sun Mall arcade, in Iroha Yokocho
Specialty: Vegan meals
Popularity: 8/10 It can be full, but it is tiny!
Honestly, this café is just large enough to fit a counter and stools for about 6 people. Limited space and opening hours mean that you might not be able to eat in, but they do also offer bento meals to take away alongside various cookies and cakes.

Za Café
Location: Less than 5 minutes west of Fujisaki department store on foot
Specialty: Vegetarian meals made with organic vegetables
Popularity: 6/10 Gets quite busy at times, but its location saves it from the worst of the crowds
This is a café that I wish I’d visited more often, but it is slightly pricey than others. Everything tastes fresh and full of flavour.

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ID:	1180 Organic tomato soup and fresh bread at Za Cafe

Location: Near the Disney store
Specialty: Traditional Japanese sweets
Popularity: 10/10 Expect queues and sold-out food if you go late
The atmosphere in here makes for a lovely oasis from the busy arcades. They have numerous traditional sweets, including anmitsu (which can include variations of cubes of jelly, fruit, mochi, bean jam and black sugar syrup).

Although it makes sense to locate a café in Ichibancho, some of them prefer the slightly quieter Kitayobancho area. They’re just as easy to get to, and sometimes just as popular.

Location: 5 minutes’ walk north of City Hall
Specialty: Pancakes
Popularity: 10/10 There are queues more often than not
Another fairly small café, but the pancakes are delicious. Western flavours are complimented with Japanese ones such as bean jam or yuzu marmalade. There’s a secondary location next door to City Hall which is more for take away.

Café Poche
Location: Kitayobancho, near the fire station
Specialty: Lunchtime meals
Popularity: 7/10 Not too busy, but some items can sell out
Somehow this café manages to be quite popular without ever getting too busy. They sell various sweet and savoury baked goods, and offer baking classes. They close mid-afternoon, so don’t come late!

Special mentions:
Flat White Coffee Factory and Polly Put the Kettle On
The former is a New Zealand-style café and the latter is a British-style café. You might prefer to stick to places that are more “Japanese”, but these are excellent cafés and offer a reasonably authentic taste of their respective countries.

The final group of cafés and bakeries are a short train ride away from the city centre. The Ochiai/Kuryu/Ayashi area is in the mountains, where you can enjoy your food in full view of nature. If you have a car, these can make great stopping off points on the way to tourist spots like Johgi Temple.

Stone Oven Bakery: Birthday
Location: Near Kuryu Co-op (Seikyou) supermarket
Specialty: Deliciousness!
Popularity: 10/10 Crowds and queues for the till are common at certain times; some items sell out quickly
This bakery has stores across Miyagi – some of them may be slightly easier to get to than this store. Birthday rotates their goods, some seasonally, so you can’t always guarantee what you’ll find. But there are always some firm Japanese favourites on offer such as melon bread, curry bread and anpan (a sweet bread filled with bean jam).

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ID:	1177 A selection of some of my favourite treats from Birthday, including curry bread with egg and tomato sauce (top left)

Bakery Wales
Location: 10 minutes’ walk from Birthday, behind Yamashin Sushi
Specialty: European-style baking; lunch croissants
Popularity: 7/10 A hidden gem, although lunchtime is quite popular
Another bakery with an interesting name. If you don’t fancy a walk from Rikuzen-Ochiai station, there is a bus that goes along Sakunami Highway.

Café Saji
Location: 10-15 minutes’ walk from Ayashi station
Specialty: Japanese meals
Popularity: 10/10 There’s only a limited amount of meals, so come early
This café is located in a garden centre called Garden Garden. It’s a bit of trip to get there, but completely worth it. For dessert, make sure to have an ice-cream from the place next door!

Wani no niwa 82_no_28
Location: Sakunami Highway, next to Tsuruha Drugstore, opposite Daiso
Specialty: Muffins (and waffles)
Popularity: 10/10 Can and will sell out, especially waffles
You may also see Wani no Niwa at events in the city and beyond. Organic fruit is used where possible, and all goods are always made with butter – never margarine.

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ID:	1176 A Wani Waffle (or Waniffle, as they are known!), filled with custard, cream and fresh strawberries

…And now I’m craving pastries. I hope you found this guide helpful and if you have any other questions, I’ll be in comments (and probably eating a cookie!)