In one of the art districts in Kunming sits a very special cafe called Kardia Cafe, or 從心開始 (cóng xīn kāishǐ). This term literally means "starting from the heart" but also sounds identical to a phrase that means "start over" or "renewal" 從新開始。The word kardia is also the Greek word for heart, thus connecting the Chinese and English names of this special cafe.
Bringing the World to Kunming
The owners are a couple with roots from Hong Kong and Canada, long-time foodies who have a passion for making the highest quality baked goods completely from scratch. The husband Nathan is a huge fan of Chef Thomas Keller (French Laundry, Per Se, Bouchon). He's been inspired by the level of precision he sees in Chef Keller's work.
Nathan and his wife Priscilla bring this same intense focus of quality to this little corner of Kunming, which is such a unique find.
"At our cafe, we just wanted to bring to Kunming the food that we like to eat. As ethnically Chinese we’ve grown up overseas in Canada, the US and Australia and there are such diverse foods available that that also defines who we are as people who enjoy food."
For example, Nate and Priscilla have fond memories of Vietnamese bakeries and going to their Vietnamese friends' houses when they were growing up. Banh mi became a staple in their childhood diets, so they decided to put it on Kardia Cafe's menu as well.
Montreal Bagels in China?
A recent new bakery item they've brought to Kunming is the beloved Montréal bagel. Nathan, who is from Montréal, tested for months before finally releasing this bagel. Kardia Cafe's Montréal bagels have a distinct crispy outside, chewy inside texture that is different from "the bagels you find around here" says Priscilla. This is because Nathan first boils the bagels in water with malt syrup before baking, resulting in the unique texture.
Made From Scratch
One of the earlier names that Nathan and Priscilla were tossing around for the cafe was "Made From Scratch." This is because all the baked goods are painstakingly made from scratch each morning using high quality, often imported ingredients.
Our family’s food philosophy has always been “made from scratch” as much as possible. We’ve always made mooncakes, noodles, nut butters, nut milks, breads and all sorts of baked goods, sauces and meals from scratch. We enjoy the process. At our cafe we use imported ingredients like French and Japanese flour (depending on the bread or baked good), imported butter (usually from Australia or New Zealand), and French or Belgian chocolatePriscilla
The locals who frequent the place feel like the cafe is a second home. These devoted regulars come just to say hi to the staff, sometimes staying for hours just chatting about life. Those who come regularly say they like the vibe of the place. There's a feeling of positivity and joy something that's much needed in this "內卷“ intense "996" environment where everyone is working as hard as they can, yet feeling like they are not making progress and instead are "curled up" into a tighter and tighter ball.
It's a pretty new cafe, opened for about a year. The environment, located in an arts district of Kunming, is indeed warm, inviting, and pleasant. On weekends, the cafe sometimes hosts events to bring the community families together, such as game night, "English Corner", or family activities (example, "Daddy & Daughter Date Night").
They recently expanded the cafe, so now there's a lot more indoor area. This has allowed them to host more neighborhood focused events on weekends.
Kardia Cafe Kunming China
云南省昆明市五华区金鼎山北路14号拾翠民艺公园1栋, Kunming, Yunnan