Carrera J.J. Dómine 9 46011 Valencia Tel 673613180
Whilst scurrying to get out of the cold December wind and find a hot cafe-con-leche I came across the unusually named Mikengocafe situated on the corner of Calle J.J Dómine No 9 and Calle de Josep Aguire at what I call the seaside end of the city of Valencia. Placing myself at a table just outside the serving window of the cafe where I had a great view of the food that was being prepared I felt immediately welcomed by the friendly staff who to my surprise were chatting in English.
Richard, who hails from London, accompanied by his wife Kami, who is Valencian, own and run the cafe alongside staff who come from various countries in Europe, adding to the truly cosmopolitan feel of the place.
My first stop at Mikengo cafe was very positive, from the friendly staff to the smooth coffee. All the coffee is sourced from a local company called Bluebell and coffee is not their only strong point. Since that first encounter I have had tasty lunches as well as homemade cakes accompanied by a nice pot of tea with milk on the side, great for the days whenI have a hankering for England.
I feel Mikengo cafe is something a little bit out of the ordinary so I was interested to find out more about the ideas and inspiration behind how Mikengo came into being and one afternoon at the end of a busy lunchtime session Richard very kindly agreed to tell me more, starting with the unusual name that sounds slightly Japanese but is in fact a combination of their children’s names Kendrix and Tiago - prefixed by Mi the Spanish for My - as, in a way, all of this, Richard indicated to the cafe, is forthem.
Richard comes from a catering background and ran several pubs in London before coming to Valencia to set up shop and home.
Mikengo opened in May 2019 following a complete renovation with the idea of keeping it light and bright which is the perfect backdrop for the regularly changing artwork on the large back wall of the cafe. Other features that break up the white are the open shelves in the kitchen area, which is on full display, and a unit which glasses hang from. After a reasonably short first season Mikengo was forced to close its doors in March 2020, like so many places all over Europe, because of the pandemic. Like many of us the world over Richard imagined it might be for a few weeks only, time to have a good clean and rearrange the cafe but Mikengo wasn’t allowed to open again until May 2020 a year since their original opening.
But Mikengo is more than a pleasant place to while away a morning with an almuerzo (traditional Spanish brunch), or amerienda (afternoon tea), it’s also a great place to lunch where Richard and Kami’s menu represents the best of the cuisine encountered on their foreign travels: hearty salads using grains to add body, curries, Spanish stews with a healthy twist, vegan dishes with an ever changing variety. Everything is homemade, including lemonade and ice tea; I will be down there in the warmer months on a regular basis for these last two items.
Mikengo customers range from office workers, Monday to Friday, to the general public throughout the week, carrying over into the weekend. A system for pre-ordering food to take away, especially for the lunchtime rush, is available now via Instagram and WhatsApp, which takes pressure off the staff as everything can be got ready in advance.
I now think of Mikengo cafe as my local, a place where I can go alone when feeling in need of a familiar, friendly face, as well as with friends and family, knowing I will have a good time, good coffee and tasty food.
19 Januarry 2021