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April 3, 2012 - Miracle Fruit Cafe
Once again I found myself in Namja Town in Ikebukuro, not for Ice Cream City, not for Gyoza World, not even for the haunted maze of epileptic fits, but for the infamous Miracle Fruit Cafe. Found on the same floor as Ice Cream City, and sitting there like any other rainbow-colored cafe in the middle of a perpetual amusement park, the Miracle Fruit Cafe sells, you guessed it, the miracle fruit/ miracle berry at 250 yen per miracle.
So what is this berry all about, and why is it so mysterious/ magical/ miracle-like? The miracle berry originates from West Africa and contains the protein miraculin, consisting of 191 amino acids. Basically, when the fleshy part of the berry is eaten, miraculin binds to your tongue and acts like a sweetness inducer when it comes in contact with acids. The feeling lasts for up to an hour and can be washed away with a hot liquid of your choosing. Although the berry has been used in West Africa for centuries to sweeten up life, much of the research on the berry has been conducted in Japan in recent years. Since then, researchers and restaurant entrepreneurs have been trying to market the berry as the next low-calorie hit.
You don’t need to go into the cafe to experience the wonder of the miracle fruit… just dodge the long queue and pick up a cup of berries and corresponding cup of lemons/ limes at the takeout window. However, note that at the cafe you can try the berry with your curry, parfait, or lemonade, which have been purposely de-sweetened and de-caloried to showcase the berry’s awesome transformation effects (a full meal with less than 300 calories!!)