So we're scooting through Kyoto Station, taking the escalator down to street level, when off to the side I see a little area set aside for a fast food coffee shop. As we move down on the escalator, it dimly dawns on me that there are green street signs -'Decatur,' 'St. Charles' - and finally I see the name on the green and white awning - 'Cafe du Monde!'
All right, I had become jaded, inured to the incessant Starbucks shops in Japan, along with Starbucks' clone, Excelcior Coffee, and Starbucks' ancestor, Mister Donut. These had become as common as wallpaper. But the chicory-bitter taste of Cafe du Monde? The cafe du lait? The beignets (square, powdered donuts)? What in God's name was this doing here?
Naturally, I had to try it.
Amazingly, the coffee had the same charming, yet not-quite-right taste as Cafe du Monde in Jackson Square, New Orleans. The beignet took some time to arrive... they were clearly a special order item prepared individually on request... and they were delicious!
Ordinarily, I wouldn't want to go to Kyoto, Japan to get the same exact thing I could eat in the United States, except that I only know one place in the US where there's a Cafe du Monde - New Orleans. If they've decided to open up franchises, why here?
No matter. This is a mystery for the ages. But if you're ever in JR Kyoto Station around breakfast time, stop into Cafe du Monde for cafe au lait, beignet and a mind-bending cross-cultural Cajun-Japanese experience.