Sunday, June 27, 2010

Miracle Fruits Cafe, Ikebukuro

This place is inside Namja Town, an odd little bit of Sunshine City that's described in some more detail here. Keep in mind that you'll have to pay Y300 per person to gain access to the delights of Namja Town, including MFC.

Miracle Fruits have gained popularity in the last couple years, it's fair to say. Most of the time they show up as a gimmicky final course for high end dining, and I had never seen them outside that context. This cafe neatly solves the problem by letting you buy miracle fruits for Y250 each, then conveniently offering cups of lemons and other sour treats to go with them.

The point here is that if you chew on this berry for a couple minutes (instructions vary - I saw one blogger say they were told 30 seconds, while the Japanese version of the instructions at MFC said 1-2 minutes, and the English version said 3 minutes), sour things taste sweet. I won't pretend I understand the science; it's easy to look up if you're interested. Most people say that lemons suddenly taste like lemon candy or something, with all the sourness gone.

Now, I'm happy to suck on limes as they are, so sourness obviously doesn't bother me as much as it does some other people. That may explain the effect here - I didn't find the sourness gone, just greatly reduced, and the sweetness of the fruit strongly emphasized in an almost artificial way. Should you try it, you will certainly crave more fruit after eating a cup or so - it's really good. Interestingly, the sourness of the umeboshi wasn't reduced for me, which made me wonder if that sourness (vinegar) is different from the sourness of citrus, and they're captured by different areas of the tongue.

If you should care to wait a bit and sit inside the cafe, you can get parfaits, things like 'tomato and yogurt', or sour fruits. Should be interesting, but I was really happy that you could just buy a couple fruits and some lemons and sit on the public benches to suck them down. Do be careful - after we finished eating, my stomach had a strong and unsettling sensation that I had just eaten a lot of sour, acidic fruit...

Over in Dessert Hell or whatever it was called, one place was doing this weird promotion with themed ice creams from a bunch of different countries. Look closely - what do Germany, Italy, Japan, Finland and Hungary have in common? That's right, they were all Axis Powers in WWII! What a jolly theme for ice cream! Never mind that they've used the sub-national flag of the Aland Islands for Finland; I think the reference is clear to all educated people.

Oh, OK, I see now that this is related to some kind of anime called 'Axis Powers', so I guess it', I still think it's weird.


  1. Thanks for posting about your experience. It'll probably be a while before I can check out the Miracle Fruit Cafe in Japan. I'd like to check out Moto in Chicago. I read that the chef, Omar Cantu, was including cactus dishes and even liquified straw to use with the miracle fruit. Probably easier on the stomach.
    My strange theme idea for a restaurant would be a pizza place called Magritte's. Get this, the server brings you your pie and says, "This is not a pizza." Eh? Anybody? Nevermind.

  2. And you get a discount if you respond with "It's not an apple either," right? Right?

    Needing to go someplace like Moto or Alinea or Tapas Molecular Bar (Tokyo) just to check out a Miracle Fruit is what I was talking about - a bit much. I was happy to be able to spend just a few dollars and get the experience (and I didn't know about mberry either). Now what I'd REALLY like to see if a chef include the miracle chemical in an early dessert course, unannounced, then serve you lemon parfait when you didn't realize your taste buds had been rewired.