I’m returning to my own “backyard” for this Good Eats post. I’ve actually been out exploring quite a bit of Kumamoto this past month. With guests in town, it was the perfect excuse to show them our favorite spots and track down a few more. On a return trip to Kurokawa Onsen, we stopped off in Aso town for a bit of lunch and stumbled across Olmo Coppia.
Stumble is a bit of a lie, as Olmo Coppia lies down an alley that’s one car-wide and overlooks a cow field and a couple of rice paddies. It’s not exactly something you come upon by accident. I had seen it listed on the Aso town tourist map, an EXCELLENT English map of the town with dozens of places of interest labelled, and its description of organic cafe immediately intrigued me. A few minutes’ past their lunch time opening at 11:30am, we pulled in to see what the menu had to offer.
There are usually three main options for lunch – a pasta plate, a curry plate and a one-plate dish. All options are vegetarian friendly and even fish stock doesn’t make an appearance in any of the dishes. On the day we went, we tried them all – an eggplant pasta, a spicy chickpea curry and a plate that included baked fu (wheat gluten), several small vegetable sides and fresh homemade bread. All lunches came with soup and appetizers, as well as a tiny slice of cheesecake.
The food was good but in reality, it’s the drinks that will bring me back here. I ordered the homemade lemonade, a drink that was surprisingly fizzy but refreshing. My husband’s choice of the homemade ginger ale was better – it had that spicy bite of fresh ginger and went down easily. (Too easily! We wanted to order a second one.) But it was our friend’s choice of the hot ginger drink that had us all begging for second and third sips. It reminded me of a spiced cider, the perfect thing to combat the chill that was in the air that day.
Olmo Coppia is best reached by car but in truth, it would be walkable from the main train station in Aso. If you’re in town to check out the volcano, this is one restaurant I think should absolutely be on your agenda. Their website is here – it’s only in Japanese but has some of the important stuff in English. Closed on Tuesdays.