It was probably my first week after moving to Nagasaki that I was first told about Monne Legui Mooks. I had asked a friend if they had any cafes or restaurants they would recommend and he immediately answered;
‘Mooks!’ without any hesitation. But, he followed this answer up with the question;
‘Do you own a car?’ I timidly shook my head and he went on to say not to worry about it.
Don’t worry about it? That’s like telling me there’s an itch you can’t scratch so don’t worry about it. So, Monne Legui Mooks has been a destination sitting in the back of mind for about a year. Can you imagine having a scratch for that long?
After acquiring a Japanese licence two months ago the girl and I made plans for a road trip encompassing stopping off in the anonymous town of Hasami which housed the restaurant. We arrived thinking there’d be a few people at this restaurant but there was already a 20m queue of people patiently waiting for Mooks to open at 11am. Luckily enough we got one of the few remaining seats at the counter.
Housed on a plot of land with three other ex-manufacturing buildings Mooks is the star attraction. A labour of love by the owner who turned the area into a tourist trap with the three buildings sheltering the cafe, a art gallery and a homewares shop. All have maintained the original timber construction with a surprisingly sparse littering of modern fittings throughout. The owner later told me that he didn’t want to waste the already fine construction by demolition. That’s why he picked these buildings and the town of Hasami.
The set menu is typically priced for a modern Japanese cafe at about ¥1000 and includes the daily entrée, a main and a drink. We we’re lucky enough to get the mix omelette (above), containing mushrooms and cheese as an entrée that was devilishly smooth and a perfect precursor to the main. So far so good.
Not long after tunnelling through the omelette came out my order of Taco Rice (above). Served with a fried egg on top, sour cream and a small salad I pretty much cleaned the plate. The taco, spices, mince and sour cream combo came together that wants me going back once more just for it. It was nice to eat something with some substance for a change. The girl ordered a That green curry which was also brilliant. I may have stolen some when she went to wash her hands.
So yet again a non descriptive building in an utterly ordinary area harbours an extraordinary experience. Japans fascination with 廃墟 (Haikyo/Ruins) is a pleasure to be a part of and something I hope I can incorporate into the things I do in the future. It’s like they know that the people who designed these things were good at them, so let’s just bring what we’re good at in into it.
If you ever have the chance to visit Monne Legui Mooks it comes highly regarded from two previous customers.
Monne Legui Mooks is located at:
2187-4, Higashisonogi-gun, Hasami
+81 95 685 8003
Tuesday & Wednesday Closed
You can count on your right hand the amount of must visit coffee shops in Japan. Hardly surprising when what pops to mind for most people is a piping hot can of coffee out of one of the 5.6 million vending machines in this country. But… if you were to make a list at the top would be Streamer Coffee Company.
Born from 2008 International Latte Art Winner Hiroshi Sawada and originally out of the culture capital of Tokyo, Shibuya, Streamer Osaka is the latest incarnation and the first outside the Japanese capital. Steered by two full time staff and occupying a small corner of a nondescript clothes shop in Minamihorie the minimal counter façade maintains the reputation of quality over quantity that people gush over when talking about Streamer.
And that reputation and its ‘unique-for-japan’ approach comes as somewhat as a double edged sword for anything really. Places such as Streamer tend to fall victim to overhype. Blown up by people so deprived of variety that their now routine morning Coffee Boss (Canned coffee) has fed a desire for something, anything, that feels cooler. Foolishly, I approached Streamer thinking this may be the case.
The coffee is excellent but I personally don’t know if I’m qualified to rank coffee anymore. The subtleties in what makes a good cup a great cup still escape me to this day and I tend to value atmosphere over the brew because the taste of the coffee fades faster than the memory of the surroundings.
Enzo, one of the two baristas behind the long timber counter on the two consecutive days I walked in, has a refreshing and personable approach through his thick American accent. My usual ‘What do you recommend to eat around here?’ question was met with a genuine thought process behind his suggestion. He greeted me the second day with a friendly wave and smile even before I stepped in followed by an engaging conversation about the ludicrous line across the road for a new Exile (Japanese boy band) tracksuit.
Surprisingly for a renowned coffee joint, little to no unwarranted pretentiousness.
So the reputation of Streamer is well founded. Built up by the hard work of its owner and his vision for the best coffee in the world. Previously I don’t think I could see how you can make such a claim because of my reasoning above, but after visiting his baby I see the method behind it. Perhaps he’s not trying to make THE best coffee in the world, but just be part of the upper echelon of coffee taste. Or perhaps just escape the litany of countless Boss Rainbow Coffee cans.
Oh right I forgot to mention… take away only.
Streamer is located at:
1-25-12 Minamihorie, Nishi-ku
+81 66 610 7007
© 2014 Carey Ciuro