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Restaurant Review: Cafe Koinonia

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A yogurt cup is garnished with mango, strawberry and kiwi at Cafe Koinina.

Nestled on a tiny plot of land near Condon Hall and the University Bridge, Cafe Koinonia has been one of the U-District’s best-kept secrets since it opened three years ago.

When I first walked into Cafe Koinonia, I was a little confused by the store’s seemingly unfocused setup. It has the normal coffee shop ambiance with plentiful seating for studying or chatting, low-key music humming in the background, and a large provision of board games and books for patrons seeking entertainment. But what’s jarring about the place is the wide array of items it sells. Not only does the place have an expansive sandwich menu, but Cafe Koinonia also sells coffee, frozen yogurt, and even chewing gum.

With a section reserved for refrigerated drinks, potato chips and other convenience-store-like snacks, I was worried that this place would turn out to be a dilettante of a shop with only one foot in the door of delicious goodness. Fortunately for me, Cafe Koinonia proved my worries very wrong.

At first, I only had the intention of ordering some of the shop’s “Husky-flavored” frozen yogurt, but this quickly changed. The blueberry-and-original-flavored swirl of frozen goodness had received rave reviews on yelp.com, so I knew I needed to try the concoction myself. I chose strawberry, mochi and chocolate chips as my toppings, which didn’t disappoint.

The frozen yogurt had the perfect balance of flavors that hit my taste buds in all the right places. For starters, the blueberry fro-yo actually tasted like it was made from real blueberries and had no traces of sickly sweet syrup flavorings. This fresh and sweet taste perfectly complemented the slightly tart original-flavor fro-yo it was mixed with. Topped off with fresh strawberries that gave the yogurt a fruity kick, mochi that added an interesting texture to each bite and a generous handful of chocolate chips that sang out a different flavor to this symphony of tastes, I had no trouble gobbling this colorful mixture down.

But as I was ungracefully filling my belly with fro-yo, I noticed the occasional customer coming in to pick up sandwiches. The customers would chat with the shop’s friendly owners (a happily married couple), grab their sandwiches to go, then begin scarfing down their orders before they even made it to their cars. I gave in to temptation and ordered the cafe’s Paul Sandwich, a basic bagel sandwich filled with turkey, honey mustard, mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato. The sandwich wasn’t intricate and offered no surprises but still satisfied my cravings. Toasted for just the right amount of time, all the flavors melded together in that certain way only comfort foods can pull off: warm, savory and simple. The next time I’m there, I’m going to try the shop’s popular bulgogi sub, which is packed with Korean barbeque-seasoned beef, onions, bell peppers, melted cheese, lettuce, and more barbecue sauce, all on a wheat hoagie.

After eating my sandwich, I wanted something to quench my thirst. I could have grabbed a bottle of Vitamin Water from the cafe’s well-stocked refrigerated section, but instead I ordered a chai latte that was comparable to one I’d get from a coffee shop on campus: neither disappointing nor impressive, but providing that important caffeine jolt nonetheless.

The consensus? Cafe Koinonia is a gem of a place that offers fairly priced, mouth-watering food. Stop by this cafe just once, and you’ll most likely become the next regular customer.

A-

Reach reporter Kat Chow at weekender@dailyuw.com.

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