Don’t do that to my taste-buds!

Don’t do that to my taste-buds!

That was the result of our lunch during our trip to Arashiyama to see the momiji. Firstly, I should say that I’m convinced there is a ginger conspiracy. People serving food around Arashiyama that day must have a thought process which goes something like the following: “Look at all the red leaves. So much red and orange. Imagine if all these crowds of people had hair that colour. Ginger hair. Ginger spice. Yes, let’s add lots of ginger to everything.” Now I don’t dislike ginger (or gingers for that matter!) but read on….

I arrived at Arashiyama already starving. The stomach didn’t care about the view; it cared about this big, fat nikuman. This is a steamed bun filled with pork, as pictured below:


I thought that this would be similar to baozi in China, which are simply delicious. I used to eat three for breakfast when I was teaching out there in February (NB: the baozi were NOT as big as the one in the picture!)

As soon as I saw the nikuman, the memories of China came flooding back and my stomach started calling for it, for its long lost love. And at 250円, I really hoped it would be delicious.

Nope, it had been Japanacised. No juicyness. Very sweet. Too much ginger. I couldn’t even finish it.

Needless to say, after that experience I hoped for a very good lunch. The streets were seething with people and the restaurants were seething with tourist prices. Just off the main drag, we managed to find a bakery-café, which did a pasta lunch deal that included coffee and dessert for 950円-not bad. Shame about the 30mins+ spent waiting to get into it.

The place: Doppo
The food: Pasta lunch deal

Below is a picture of the starters. A fresh salad, tartly dressed. Something squidgy and fishy that I didn’t fancy. Bread and sweet potato bread, which both tasted the same – bland. A soup that was really quite delicious but I can’t remember what is was. Do you know why? The memories of this part of the meal have been trampled on and murdered by what I was served next.

Starters, incl. purple sweet potato bread

How could pasta – spaghetti even – cause this much havoc? You may well ask…

I ordered a bacon and pumpkin spaghetti dish. Should have been delicious – bacon goes very well with sweet vegetables (my mother makes a delicious bacon, butternut squash and feta linguine).  But when I was served it, the sauce itself looked puzzling.


Yes, the sauce equated to not much more than a gelatinous coating. But that was a minor offence compared to the EXTREMELY LARGE PIECES OF GINGER THAT WENT WITH NOTHING IN THE DISH!! Would you put bacon and ginger together? Not particularly! Pumpkin and ginger maybe? No!

Just when I got a tasty chunk of bacon or pumpkin, a nasty piece of ginger came along and jarred through the mouthful. It was edible but it messed with my taste-buds terribly! The dessert didn’t help.

Oh yes, it looks like a harmless piece of vanilla pudding, doesn’t it? Wrong!! It’s covered in a nastily strong citrus sauce that obliterates the vanilla and doesn’t go at all!

Overall 2/5 – The value was great. But do you want to subject your tongue to that?!


I did eat something that wasn’t gingered up that day. The entrance fee to Okochi Sanso included tea and a Japanese sweet. And if there’s one thing the Japanese love more than ginger, than it’s macha (Japanese green tea). Potent and bitter, it’s not my cup of tea (*cringe*) but for warming me up under the bright red leaves, it was perfect.

Macha sweet/biscuit

Author: Phoebe Amoroso

Phoebe Amoroso is a Tokyo-based reporter, multimedia journalist and storyteller. Hailing from the UK, she moved to Japan in 2014 and has since been shouting about the country to all who will listen. She divides her time between covering breaking news and producing feature stories for TV; writing about everything from business and tech to food and travel; and guiding hungry visitors who want to sample the best of Japanese cuisine. When not working and/or eating, she can often be found running up a mountain or cycling by the sea.

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