The Grandi Harbor (Old Harbor) area in Reykjavík, Iceland isn’t fishy at all. In fact, it’s a bit of a paradise for foodie fanatics. The plethora of food and restaurant options in this little nook of Reykjavík make it easy for you to get away from the tourists crowds. You can nosh on locally made rhubarb toffee brittle at Búrið and then a few doors down you can indulge in chocolate chip and Turkish pepper (licorice) cookies at 17 Sortir. The few short blocks are so packed with grub spots, you may be tempted to stay right there, but that would be a mistake.
If you venture just five minutes east (continuing down Grandagarður) you’ll be rewarded with serene tea and sweets at Kumiko. This quaint Japanese style teahouse makes you feel as though your miles away from Iceland. Though it is a brisk walk away from the main Grandi Harbor area, you literally can’t miss Kumiko. You’ll know you have arrived when you’re greeted by a giant pink octopus.
Known for her whimsical cakes and fanciful decorations, Kumiko is the passion project of talented pastry chef Sara Hochuli. Hochuli owns Kumiko in Reykjavík and also Miyuko, another Japanese style expat teahouse, in Zürich.
Her creative talents extend well beyond cake decorating. The fanciful manga and Japanese style artwork you see throughout Kumiko are all a result of Hochuli’s background as an illustrator and designer.
Given the lovely decor and the decadent menu items, it should come as no surprise that Björk and Jónsi (the singer of the cult Icelandic band Sigur Rós) are among the guests who’ve stepped foot inside Kumiko.
During our Kumiko adventure, we started things off with a cappuccino and a tea infused gin on ice, but not because we were going big. It was more because, well, we’ve never had a tea infused gin on ice before. (There’s also a tea infused sparkling vodka and something called a lakkrís chocolate bomb on the menu.)
If you’ve read some of our other posts, you already know we’re fans of gin. (The stunning Asa G&T with edible flowers at Asa in Los Altos, California just might be one of the prettiest libations we’ve ever been served.) Being gin fans, we were quite impressed with the tea infused gin. It was definitely unique and not something we’ve ever seen on a menu before. Our cappuccino was also delightful. The java that Kumiko serves comes from locally based Reykjavík Roasters.
We also order the grilled iklämmts (an Icelandic sandwich made with cheese, veggies and spreads) which had the most adorable little creatures poking out of it.
Thankfully Kumiko sells packages of the adorable little picks they pop in their food, so you can bring them home and smile when you dine back home.
We also ordered one of Kumiko’s ongiri (which is basically a Japanese rice sandwich). The rice was perfectly browned and crunchy. The dish was served with savory sauce options and it came with fresh bread too.
In addition to Kumiko, here’s a list of other neat little local spots we love in Reykjavík, Iceland.
It was the perfect light sized bite and a dish we’d happily order again. Plus it came with panda picks and who doesn’t love panda picks?
In addition to ordering from the menu, Kumiko also has a little shop area you can peruse. Visions of towering peaks and Kumiko’s Swiss connection come through loud and clear with quaint offerings like Swatch watches for sale and cute tea time accessories that have sayings like, “Coffee with Altitude.”
We were seriously impressed with Reykjavík based Omnom Chocolate’s choco covered cereal crisps, so we were eager to invest more of our rapidly dwindling tummy space to the Icelandic chocolate scene. We ended up snagging a few of the handmade chocolate options Kumiko had for sale, so we could savor them later when we got back home.
The chocolates are branded with the Swiss shop’s name, Miyuko. The packaging is delightful. When you open the chocolate up, there’s a handwritten font in Japanese and German thanking you for your purchase and noting that all of Miyuko’s chocolate is handmade and hand packed. (Miyuko’s chocolate is also delicious. We bit into the salty peanut crunch and dark chocolate and loved it.) The chocolate is made into the shape of a giant disk, instead of the typical bar, which makes for a fun surprise when you unwrap it.
There are a few different seating options at Kumiko. The enclosed area in the front of the teahouse means you can gawk at all the deliciousness in Kumiko’s pastry case.
For obsequious patrons, out on the back patio, there’s a very cool collection of Japanese manga you can check out. As it turns out, it is part of Hochuli’s private collection of manga that she generously opts to share with her customers so long as you’re careful handling the books.
A word to the wise, you will want to make a pit stop to check out the bathrooms at Kumiko before you go. There are origami birds and inspiring quotes strewn across the walls as you make your way down the hallway to the bathrooms.
Whether you pop into Kumiko for divine bites, a tea infused gin on ice or perhaps to stare at their nifty collection of hand knit baby bonsai crafted by Australian artist Thomas C. Chung, this little teahouse in Reykjavík packs a punch.
Address: Grandagarður 101
101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Hours: January – Tuesday and Wednesday Closed, Thursday Through Monday 11:00am to 6:00pm
Phone: +354 517 2424
Prices (All in Icelandic Króna or ISK): Kumiko Lunch Time Menu 2,500, Onigiri 1,200, Soup of the Day 1,200, Power Rice Salad 1,650, Grilled Iklämmts (Sandwich) 1,650, Gourmet Brunch 3,900 Per Person (Two People Minimum), Kumiko Tea Time (Two People Minimum) 3,900 Per Person, Three Kumiko Scones 1,900, Princess Cake Time(Two Princesses Minimum)1,900 Per Person, Small Breakfast 1,900, Kumiko Breakfast 2,500, Tea 550 to 2,250, Reykjavík Roasters Coffee 550 to 700, Special Drinks 650 to 900, Chocolate and Tea Cocktails 2,200, Handmade Miyuko Chocolate Disks 1,250