Meteorite Curry and Amethyst Panna Cotta are just two of the elegant and educational foods at Usaginonedoko.

Kyoto needs no introduction as a magnet for tourists seeking a taste of the classic Japanese food and scenery. But that reputation also has the negative effect of covering up a lot of hidden gems throughout the city.

Actually, “gem” is a perfect word to describe the cutely named Usaginonedoko cafe in Kyoto’s Nakagyo Ward. This eatery’s mission statement is to express the beauty of natural minerals through food by recreating some of Earth’s sparkling treasures in the medium of delicious meals.

Our reporter Japanese-language K. Masami went down to sample their geological gourmet to find that the restaurant was a renovated Kyo-machiya, which is a traditional style of house of Kyoto.

However the interior was in stark contrast to the traditional storefront. The cafe had a very calm atmosphere inside, but at the same time there were all sorts of stones, coral, fossils, and shells everywhere providing a lot of stimuli for the eyes.

Even the tables were full of sea urchin skeleton, making it difficult for Masami to focus on her menu.

きょうはオサレカフェの取材。かなりの素敵空間。

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Despite the distractions, she managed to decide on the Meteorite Curry for 1,000 yen ($9), the Amethyst Panna Cotta for 300 yen, and the Garden Quartz Tiramisu for 790 yen. But first, for an appetizer Masami ordered a gorgeously colorful and fresh looking Deli Plate for 1,000 yen.

First the Meteorite Curry arrived, which is created in the image of a tektite — glass formed when a meteorite crashes into the Earth. To achieve this look a dry curry is used with a deep black color. The texture is achieved though plentiful addition of beans.

That alone ensured a pleasant taste, but Masami was surprised to feel the mellow flavor of cheese mixed in with the rice for an even more delicious flavor. It was a very pleasant experience for all the senses.

The Meteorite Curry also came with a soup and salad that added a lot of color to this part of the meal.

Next was the Amethyst Panna Cotta, a creamy gelatin dessert from Italy. Such a malleable material allowed Usaginonedoko to craft an eerily accurate sculpture of amethyst from it.

▼ Amethyst Panna Cotta next to an actual piece of amethyst.

By far the most impressive item on today’s menu was the Garden Quartz Tiramisu. Masami probably had the lowest expectations for this because tiramisu doesn’t look much like garden quartz.

▼ Garden quartz (also known as lodolite)

Wikipedia/Mauro Cateb

Clearly this dessert was made to look like the transparent stone, but it was hard to see the tiramisu. Masami remained skeptical until she dug in for a bite…

At the bottom of the gelatin covering, lightly dusted in green tea powder, there sat a wad of cookie dough soaked in the flavor of espresso and covered in mascarpone!

Needless to say, it was intensely delicious and the perfect example of Usaginonedoko’s equally high commitment to beauty and flavor.

It may not be geishas and samurai, but if you want something truly unique in Kyoto, be careful not to miss Usaginonedoko’s relatively unassuming store front and pay them a visit. You’ll not be disappointed.

Restaurant information
Usaginonedoko / ウサギノネドコ
Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, Nakagyo-ku, Nishinokyo Minami Haramachi 37
京都府京都市中京区西ノ京南原町37
Open: 11:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Closed Wednesdays

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