Once again, staff recommendations blew us away!

Here’s a pro tip if you want to eat the best food at any restaurant you go to: ask the people who work there what they’d eat. After all, they know how things are made, what goes into them, and what makes the best dishes the best. They also know what the most popular dishes are, and sometimes they’ll even know about secret menu items that we’d never even heard of.

We had great success asking a waiter at Denny’s to give us recommendations; they supplied us with an absolutely delicious meal. So we decided to ask the staff at our favorite donut shop, Mister Donut, what they would spend their own money on, and we got some pretty great answers.

The person working at the counter that day was a young woman who was probably in her twenties. “Please tell me three things you recommend that you would buy with your own money,” we told her when we got to the counter. She froze for a moment, leaving us to wonder, “Is she gonna be okay?” but in the end, she seemed to feel pretty comfortable making her choices. They were:

1. Pon de Koi Matcha Whip Warabimochi (216 yen [US$1.61]) for takeout and 220 yen for eat-in)

Part of Mister Donut’s latest collaboration with Kyoto matcha master Gion Tsujiri, this was the cashier’s first recommendation. It’s a limited-time-only sandwich-style donut with matcha and warabimochi (a rice cake covered with roasted soybean flour) inside. There’s a similar version that contains azuki red bean paste, so we asked if this one is better than the azuki version, but it turns out the reason she chose this one is that she can’t eat red bean paste.

The matcha cream inside was super rich with a good bit of bitterness, but coupled with the doubly chewy textures of Mister Donut’s trademark pon-de-ring donuts and warabimochi, it was exceptional! It’s the type of donut kids won’t like, but adults will really appreciate.

2. Vegetable Ryofumen with Shrimp and Chicken (Eat-in only for 605 yen)

Unexpectedly, the cashier’s second recommendation was not a donut but a cold noodle dish. She wavered between this and the Sesame Soy Milk Tantan Ryofumen, but when we reminded her to choose the one she would order, she decided to go with the Vegetable Ryofumen with Shrimp and Chicken. “Since I like shrimp,” she said.

It had a really light soup made with yuzu and salt, and combined with the really thin noodles, it was a very refreshing dish. It’s the kind of meal you can eat when you aren’t feeling super hungry but still want a little something. We could definitely see why the cashier would recommend this.

3. Whip and Custard Old Fashioned (183 yen for takeout and 187 yen for eat-in)

She debated a bit about the last recommendation, but in the end, she selected this unusual concoction. It’s not anything we found on the menu or online. According to the cashier, they were selling them for a limited time only. “I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m positive it’s delicious,” she said.

It was an old fashioned donut sliced in half, dipped in chocolate and sandwiched with custard cream and whipped cream–like it had achieved its ultimate, final form. It was just about as insanely delicious as you’d expect. The cashier was absolutely right.

All of her recommendations ended up being limited-time-only menu items, which signified to us that she was aware of the trends going on around her. They were all things we probably wouldn’t have thought to try on our own, but we were pleasantly surprised by each of them. Especially by the Whip and Custard Old Fashioned.

What we learned from this experiment was that you have to eat Mister Donut’s limited-edition offerings. While their regular rotation is also delicious–and some are even better toasted in a hot sandwich maker–their new stuff is equally good, if not even better. We will be keeping this information in mind for future visits!

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