One of the (only) perks about writing for this magazine is that every now and then I get asked to try out a tasty eatery or trendy bar. So I was more than happy when asked to check out the infamous Mountain Coffee, a café/restaurant situated in Yagoto Nisseki, or “student paradise” as it is often called. Mountain Coffee, with a name like that how could it not be amazing? Images of alpine retreats flashed through my (computer-game retarded) imagination… how wrong I was!
Confidence turned to caution as I asked a friend to join me for the meal; the only reply I got was a look that roughly translated to “I’d rather eat my own feces” and a polite shake of the head. I asked no fewer than 6 Japanese friends to join me, I even told them I would pay, but was met with refusals and excuses as lame as “I have to go to the gym” or “I am waiting for Halo Reach to arrive” one guy even tried to get away with “My wife is expected to give birth that day, and hanging around with a dumb gaijin is very low on my priority list right now.” A little disgruntled, I decided to investigate.
At work, I asked an all-Nagoya girl if she’d heard of the place, to which I got this shocking response:
“Yes I know it, I used to go there with friends when I was at university. They serve huge portions of disgusting foods.”
“Disgusting how?” I enquired.
“One time I went there with 5 friends and we ordered macha pasta with anko sauce. It was huge and green and very greasy. We all took one bite but couldn’t eat any more.”
You think green tea pasta is bad? She also claimed that spaghetti with ice cream and strawberries was also a Mountain Coffee specialty.
I wrote my friend off as mental, but after asking several more people, I found that her claims were solid. I also uncovered that the place is used to torture any university students who are unlucky enough to have lost a major sporting event. A dinner so bad that it is force fed to people as a punishment?! Surely not.
I was intrigued, so setting out with my trusty photographer, I found my way to Mountain Coffee…which is (ironically) situated at the bottom of a huge hill, about 10 minutes walk from the station. The building itself doesn’t look that bad from the outside, but anyone that has dated an innocent looking Japanese lady will know, appearances can be deceiving. Inside the chairs are splotched with stains and the floor glimmers with grease; confused looking waiting staff walk you to a table and pass you a hand-written menu…in the corner of which is stated the strict rules of the house: Everyone must order something! Paying separately is not an option!
Looking over the menu, there are such delights as Squid flavored shaved ice, fruit rice and the unique green pasta. Unfortunately the strawberry dishes are only served in the Spring and Autumn, so ice-cream spaghetti was not an option (thank f#ck!). I opted for a cactus chahan (no really) and my trusty photographer hoped her basil spaghetti would be too simple to mess up. We also ordered a drink each, one Blue Cola and a Momoko…what is a Momoko you may wonder. So did I, but the waiter had no idea either, so I took a leap of faith!
The food arrived in the blink of an eye… and I really wished it hadn’t have come at all. My chahan was disappointingly normal looking! I was expecting some spiky concoction, greener than The Hulk and drier than Oscar Wilde’s wit. What I got was a big steaming plate of rice, packed full of meat, veg and little green things that looked like piman, but tasted like nothing I’d had before. I have to admit though, cactus is far tastier than you would imagine. I tucked in with gusto… first impressions: not so bad!
My partner in crime had less luck however, her pasta was so thick and soggy it tasted like noodles and the basil sauce was far from the pesto we all know and love! Instead, there were charred leaves sprinkled over a hill of pasta, dotted with lumps of tomato and chillies. Things got drastically worse when she pulled the pasta to one side, to expose an ocean of oil BP would be ashamed of.
Our drinks arrived a little while after, the Momoko being electric pink and the Blue Cola, which was the same color as Captain Planet. Both drinks looked like the Toxic Avengers bodily fluids and were so sweet, they were all but indistinguishable from one another. My mouth was taking on a slight film of grease at this point, so I winced past the taste of my drink, cleared out my throat and continued to eat.
The look that I got could roughly be translated to “I’d rather eat my own feces”
My earlier stamina was whittling away at an alarming rate, and there was still enough rice left to feed a family of four! I struggled on, convincing myself that cactus must be super healthy and worth this gargantuan effort. Opposite me, a fork clattered against a plate still crammed full of pasta… an early retirement for the photographer… must… keep… eating.
I carried on for a further 20 minutes, the rice slowly ebbing away. My lips felt as if they were covered in lip balm, my belly was poking out even more than normal and my sweat smelled like a Big Mac. It was time to throw in the towel. I drained my drink to prove that Mountain Coffee would not defeat me completely…but left a tiny puddle of food which I didn’t have the courage to finish. The bill came in at ¥2,400 for the both of us, which considering the size of the portions is not half bad.
Mountain Coffee is obviously not an ideal place to take someone on a first date, but it really is a “must” experience. Going with a big group and egging each other on to order the most outrageous food could well be a night to remember. They also serve the biggest shaved ice I have ever seen and have around 30 flavors to choose from… some of them normal.
It is also very cheap for the amount you receive, but if you’re not a gut-buster, there are children sized meals, one coin “snacks” and even mini-meals. If you’re on a diet, you would be better off drinking butter, but if you’re out for a good night out with like-minded friends who are up for a challenge, then Mountain Coffee is the best place in the city.