Have you ever seen rocketnew24’s articles? Well, have you seen the one about a cafe in Kyoto that serves food inspired by minerals? I certainly did. And that was what inspired my visit.
Sadly, it was not the best visit ever, but we’ll get to that later.
Usaginonedoko is a hostel, shop, and cafe, all rolled into one – but in distinctly different parts of the building it is located in. The cafe is in the right section, with sliding see-through doors. A large, plastic table, made up of individual desks with mineral and rock displays underneath the top plastic covering, was placed in the very front of the restaurant. In the very back were seats for two and tatami seating. A small alcove seating was between the large plastic table are and the hall leading to the regular seats.
Across from the plastic table was a beautiful display area, in which minerals were plated in a way that made them look like modern desserts. Lapis Lazuli Opera Cake, etc etc plates were displayed in a tantalizing way. Sadly, they were not really offered on the menu and were simply there to change the way you think about minerals.
At the cafe, we were seated at the very front, at the large plastic table that was likely meant for large groups, then given our menus.
Usaginonedoko did not have a super extensive menu, and only a few items were actually inspired by minerals – the Amethyst Panna Cotta (アメシスト パンナコッタ), Garden Quartz Tiramisu (ガーデンクオーツ・ティラミス ), and the Usaginonedoko Meteorite Curry (ウサギノネドコの「隕石カレー」) . Sadly, the panna cotta was only offered at lunch, so I stuck with the latter two offerings.
As the waiter went to relay our order (and make the order – the kitchen was small and only staffed with two people), I noticed two Japanese ladies coming in to eat. The waiter who seated us, returned to seat the two women, who were promptly given seats in the very back. Warning sign.
At the point, I was already pretty unhappy, since I felt we didn’t need to be seated so far out. Why were we not given nicer seats in the back? Was it because we spoke too much English and obviously looked like foreigners? Negativity filled my mind.
The food also took a while to come out.
There was a small delay in getting out our dessert, as opposed to my main dish, but that wasn’t too much of an issue. As the waiter brought out our food, he also took out small stones from his pocket – the minerals from which the composition of the dishes were inspired. “Please examine them while you eat,” he said as he left swiftly.
The dishes really did look like the minerals.
The meteorite curry (¥900) was black in appearance, with a similarly black – but slightly brown, toned sauce on top. It had a distinctly cheese-and-meat taste, but a slightly spiced flavor I can’t put my finger on. It was unique, in any case, and served with a drizzle of olive oil.
The tiramisu (¥790) was a thing of beauty. Sponge cake, mascarpone cheese, and a dusting of matcha powder enveloped in a casing of jelly, with dots of raspberry jelly decorating along the outer rim of the stark-white plate. It felt like such a shame to dig into it. But the texture of the jelly was a pretty jarring contrast to the smooth, tiramisu inside the dessert. The raspberry jelly added a much-needed tartness to the dessert, also covering up the strangely un-coffee, more liquer-esque like taste of the traditionally tiramisu section.
I was pretty satisfied with the food, but I was in no means impressed by the flavor.
Later in the night, I proceeded to vomit up the curry and dessert after it seemed to have unsettled my stomach.
Obvious to say, I probably won’t be going again.