O-hayō from Kyoto – and Mister Donut


Kyoto is the culinary heart of Japanese cuisine. It is here where many claim Japanese cuisine is done on it’s finest level.  Kaiseki cuisine (seasonal dishes, immaculately prepared and presented in the highest level of art) births from Kyoto. So what incredible meal did we have our first morning in Kyoto?  Mister Donut.

Our first full day in Kyoto, we were excited to start exploring, so we hopped on our loaner bikes and pedaled toward downtown. Our stomachs were stirring in the balmy Kyoto morning air, but we figured to pop into  a noodle shop for some pre-exploring sustenance.  Block after block passed by, with nary a shop open and our bodies began growling for attention.

Unlike Viet-nam where there were vats of pho, bun and other such tasties steaming off of the streets before we could even open our eyes, the Land of the Rising Sun seems be less street breakfast savvy, except for the hard working, early A.M. busting areas like Tsukiji (more on that in the next post!)  Perhaps the Japanese are just more civilized and partaking their morning meals at home before heading off for a day’s work.  That doesn’t do us, the starving travelers, much good.

Just as soon as we remarked how it seemed like nothing was open, Destiny’s light showed, and Mister Donut appeared before us.


We have been hounded by many food bloggers to experience Japan’s pop culinary culture.  Yoshinoya, Mos Burger, and Mister Donut were being touted as “don’t misses” in Japan.  At first we didn’t even consider it, but after eating a Yoshinoya in Tokyo (we didn’t even know it was a Yoshinoya until after we ordered and noticed the emblem) and finding ourselves happily satisfied (the unagi -bbq eel- on rice was an awesome Shinjuku morning starter) we decided we may have to listen to the Japanese fast food advice.

Our starving bellies enticed us to give Mister Donut a chance, so we parted our bikes on the curb and ducked in.  The offerings looked good, so we point-ingly and half Japanese-ingly, ordered up a little medley to give a range goods to find out why Mister Donut had been so highly and frequently recommended.


Verdict: For donuts they were damn good.  One item was actually more puff pastry-ish with a savory filling of seafood and pasta and it was both of our immediate favorite.  It was as satisfying as our regular delicious fix of the Vietnamese pate chaud. Another, the Angel Cream Donut, was delicately light, with a perfectly sweetened cream filling.  The strawberry glazed donut was another winner, with a great texture and by not being heavy or overly sweet. Only 1 of the 4 we ordered wasn’t to our liking, but that may be more to it being a type we weren’t that fond of, rather than due to it being poorly made.

We must say, “Doomo Arigato, Mister Donut.”  You started off our Kyoto adventures quite well.  Another thanks to those of you who recommended we give Mister Donut a chance.  And to the rest of you, “You have to try Mister Donut when you are in Japan.  They make a damn good donut!”

-Todd & Diane

Coming up for tomorrow’s post ….


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    { 17 comments… read them below or add one }
    1. Erin

      Mister Donut was a life saver in Japan! I was even part of the “MisDo Club” when I was little and collected points to get free gifts. Ebi Gratin and Golden Chocolate are my all-time faves. Love your photos.

    2. Jacqueline Church

      Isn’t it amazing to see the Maiko (Geisha-in-training) walking through the city of Kyoto? I was constantly knocked out by the ultra modern (ten years ago everyone had cell phones the size of a pack of gum) right next to the ancient. Everywhere.

      Did you make it to the Cha-do temple? The Tea Ceremony birthplace? One day I’ll show you one of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken, shot there.

      My husband just surprised me with a Nikon D40 so I’m hoping to win that Food Bloggers contest to see you all in Mexico. I was in Ixtapa and Zihuantanenjo ages ago. Too long away from Mexico is not good for the soul.


    3. Adam

      Love your blog and those donuts look delicious. My wife and I just started a new blog about a month ago. We just added you to our blogroll since we visit your site all the time.

    4. Jules @ Lovely Las Vegas

      Oooh… I don’t normally eat doughnuts… but I will definitely give those beauties a try if I find myself in Kyoto. Hehe, not sure if it is the pastries or just your skill at capturing them on film! Delish looking either way!

    5. Mélanie

      I’ve never been to Japan, but it’s on my trip list (soooo long list!), so thank you for sharing your adventure with us.

    6. Marc @ NoRecipes

      Glad to hear your found your way into a Japanese fast food joint. For years I avoided american chains in Japan like the plague, but once I had to duck into a Denny’s to get out of a monsoon downpour. I figured I’d just get an ice coffee and leave, but once I sat down and saw all the pretty pictures I ended up ordering a pasta carbonara which changed everything.

      Try all the convenience store junk food too (chips, soda, candy etc). Oh and you have to try the ブルガリアヨーグルト “Bulgaria Yogurt”. It’s the best yogurt EVER.

    7. Hélène

      I feel I’m on the trip with you guys. So well written and love the pictures.

    8. Signe

      I lived in Japan many years ago (1979-1983) so I don’t know if this is still the case but at that time all of the coffee shops served “morningu” which was a bargain western style breakfast with a Japanese twist. For the price of a what a cup of coffee would cost later in the day, you could get, for example: a cup of jo, a piece of French bread cut 1-2 inches thick, a boiled egg and a small salad (that’s the Japanese twist) or some variation on that theme. There are also wonderful European style bakeries which have a great selection of breads, cakes, etc. If you stay at a Japanese ryokan or even one of the great big onsen (hot spring) hotels, you will get a traditional Japanese breakfast which is really wonderful: miso soup, rice, a piece of broiled fish, natto, seaweed, egg omelete, and pickles (tsukemono). Incidentally, in those days (but it may still be true) if you went to a “love hotel” after 11 or so at night, you could get a great suite (bedroom, bath, and little sitting room – with a thermos of hot water and green tea provided) for the night very cheap (for approximately what it would cost for an hour earlier in the evening) but you would have to leave fairly early in the morning and of course couldn’t leave your gear there the next day. When we arrived in Japan, we pitched our tent along the river in Kyoto and left our tent pitched there for a week with no problem. It was pretty unusual then but no one told us to move. We rented bikes and left the tent up with our sleeping gear in it while we explored the city by day, but stored everything else at the train station, and left the bikes outside the tent at night, locked but not locked to anything. I wonder if we could still get away with that today!

    9. Peter

      Japan is just not a place for morning people. Very few places are open before 9am, with the majority getting things started closer to 10.
      At least in Tokyo, breakfast options are pretty much limited to small set meals at fast food type joints or McDonalds. The army of salarymen don’t seem to mind though and they’re always packed…

    10. Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary

      Huh who would have thought that Mr. Donut would be the place to visit! I have to say, I’m not a donut person, but those look damn good.

    11. Gacktpause

      That’s a walk down memory lane I could take every day! Yoshinoya and Mos Burger were both staples during my homestay in Kyoto, but Mister Donut was always there for me when non-adzuki sweets (one of my favorites, but eventually you miss choco) were scarce and day-on-the-town exhaustion was hitting hard. Japanese donuts are something most people don’t take seriously– but once you have them, you’ll never go back to Dunkin’ again….

    12. Lisa E.

      Ha! I found you through another blog while searching for pesto recipes, but this post was totally meant for me to find!

      On our first trip to Japan in August 2006, my husband and I spent a few days in Kyoto. Early one morning, we went to the Mister Donut in the train station. I got a donut that didn’t have an english description. I thought it was an apple cinnamon donut; it had a crumbly topping and looked like it to me! Imagine my surprise when I took a bite and it was cold chicken curry! Quite a shock! After that I learned to read hiragana and some katakana so that on our second trip, I could at least look things up in my dictionary.

      In the Kyoto train station there was a great little restaurant that only served chicken dishes. The staff was so fantastic. Once, my husband and I ate in the restaurant, and our waitress took us outside so we could pick from the sample dishes in the display window. The second time, we were just passing through the station, and the restaurant was empty. The chef took the time to put together a bento box for me for a late lunch, and my husband and I sat and drank complimentary green tea while he worked. It was such a kind nice gesture at the end of a long, hot, exhausting trip. If you’re looking for a quick bite in Kyoto, check them out!

      I’ll have to read the rest of your Japan posts. I love Japan so much… we’re preparing for our third trip, which will be in November.

    13. The Gardener's Eden

      HA! This is a wonderful post. When we let go of expectations, we open up to a world of new experiences. When I follow the advice of locals, I am almost always pleased, (one notable exception in Italy… which I call “Death Agony Dinner”).
      Kyoto is my planned destination in Japan, and I am eager to hear more about your experiences. Thank you for taking us along !

    14. Clare

      So stoked you guys went to Mr. Donut. My favorite is the puff pastry w/pasta too! I love how small and delicate it is; even though it’s rich it’s just the right size. American donuts are like fried sugar bombs compared to these airy, not-to-sweet concoctions. Oh how I wish they had donuts like this in the states!

    15. Wendy

      Oh, those doughnuts look really cute and tasty! I haven’t tried Mister Donut before, but I have tried Yoshinoya and Mos Burger as they have opened in Hong Kong – but you must try Pepper Lunch as well! It’s another Japanese fast food chain that specializes in beef and serves its food on a hot plate, allowing customers to cook the food to their own liking. My favourite is the Pepper Beef Rice – it’s basically rice with sliced beef, some corn and a buttery fragrant sauce, where you can ‘stir fry’ it yourself on the plate – delicious!

    16. ila

      i love love LOVE mister donuts! soooo many fond memories of my childhood in japan… (we ate a lot of misudo, because that was what was new and hip in my village back then). so glad that you were able to try it!

    17. Kalyn

      Sounds like fun. When you wrote about this on Twitter, I didn’t realize these were Japanese donuts. Didn’t know there was such a thing!

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