10 Food We Ate In Japan’s Kitchen, Osaka!
It was all glass and steel as we alighted the JR Tokaido at Osaka Station.
The spaciousness and height of the building gave us a first glimpse of the Kansai metropolis that is Osaka. We lugged our way to the nearest elevator situated by Lucua, a massive 10-storey departmental store that straddles a whole office building.
The glass panels of the elevator opened to a view of a sprawling megacity densely packed with skyscrapers as far as the eyes can see. As we made our way down into the subterranean network of fast-moving trains and colorful subway lines, it dawned upon us that we have traded the steep history and tradition of Kyoto with the bright lights and exuberance of Osaka.
It was time to eat our way through “Japan’s Kitchen.”
1. Sushi – Tokisushi
There are thousands of sushi joints spread across Osaka, from the conveyor belt eateries to the private high-end restaurants. Tokisushi falls right in the middle of this spectrum. We stumbled upon this sushi bar after a solid shopping session at Shinsaibashi and ordered a 12-piece assorted sushi [¥1,050] platter of freshly prepared squid tentacles, salmon, horse mackerel, scallop and flounder among others. Feast.
2. Takoyaki – Creo-Ru
A visit to Osaka is never complete without stuffing our mouths with takoyaki. These ping-pong shaped balls are made by frying octopus-stuffed batter in a special round molded pan. We tried the takoyaki [¥700] at Creo-Ru along Dotonbori and went with half a dozen of them topped with onsen egg and a generous sprinkle of scallion. The takoyaki really melted in our mouths while the scallion gave a nice crunch to the savory taste of the octopus.
3. Okonomiyaki – Creo-Ru
Another Osaka invention is okonomiyaki, literally meaning “whatever you like” (okonomi) made to “grill” (yaki). This savory pancake is made primarily of flour, yam and dashi before garnished with whatever you like, from veggies, meat, seafood or cheese. We had the most basics of okonomiyaki [¥900] at Creo-Ru – drenched in a sweet and thick sauce not dissimilar to Worcestershire sauce and covered in bonito flakes. Tummy filler.
4. Melonbread – Melonpan Ice
It was just our luck when we stumbled upon a food truck selling the “The Second Delicious Melonpan Ice-Cream in the World.” It was my first time trying melonbread, dough covered in a thin layer of cookie dough and is only associated to the melon fruit because it looks like one. Melonpan Ice-Cream [¥700] pastry is crisp on the outisde and gooey on the inside, the hot bun paired well with the cold soothing scoop of green tea ice-cream.
5. Cheese Tart – Pablo
Our trip to Japan coincided with the height of the Japanese cheese tart craze sweeping Malaysia and one of the perpetrators was the infamous Pablo. We decided to pay him a visit on Dotonbori to try out an assortment of mini cheese tarts [Cheese ¥200, Chocolate ¥230, Matcha ¥230]. The verdict: densely packed cheese surrounded by soft and crumbly dough so sinful, you wouldn’t want to confess you ate the whole box of it.
6. Ramen – Ramen Honolu
It’s near impossible to obtain halal ramen in Japan – most are either served with char siew or made using pork broth. Thanks to Have Halal Will Travel, we discovered a halal ramen restaurant near Namba and the Special Rich Chicken Flavor [¥980] I had was amazing. The noodles had the right not-too-chewy texture, the chicken was fried to perfection and the broth was so rich, I sipped it all up. Worth coming back to Osaka again and again.
7. Cheese Cake – Rikuro Ojisan
Japanese cheesecake differs from its Western counterpart in that it is baked to be so light and fluffy, it wobbles every time you move it around. Uncle Rikuro’s Cheese Cake [¥685] imports its cheese from Denmark and sprinkled with Californian raisins at the bottom of the pan. They are baked fresh in huge batches so you will always be guaranteed a hot out-of-the-oven cake any time of the day.
8. Omuraisu – Hokkyokusei
Malaysians would have screamed “Nasi Goreng Pattaya!” when they see this dish but Omuraisu is a Japanese dish with a Western twist. Omuraisu [¥1,020] is simply rice seasoned with ketchup and wrapped in an omelet. Hokkyokusei has been serving this yoshoku specialty since 1925 and we could never forget the smoothness and creaminess of the egg gently keeping the rice warm. Silky.
11:30 am – 10:00 pm weekdays, 11:00 am – 10:00 pm weekends
2 Chome-7-27 Nishishinsaibashi, Chūō-ku, Osaka 542-0086
9. Soba – Sojibo
Our last meal in Japan was a soba breakfast at Kansai International Airport. Sojibo is a halal-accredited restaurant specializing in these buckwheat noodles. I went with the Cold Soba Noodles with Grated Yam [¥850] served on a bamboo tray and the whole meal was refreshing, from the mentsuyu sauce to the whole of yam. It was also my first time given a wasabi stick where I had to grate it on the soba for a bit of a kick.
7:00 am – 10:00 pm, Daily
3F, Terminal 1, Kansai International Airport
10. Snacks & Chocolate
We wouldn’t be leaving Japan without bringing home some of its snacks and chocolates. Little Osaka Omiyagi Market on Dotonbori has an assortment of specialty treats from green tea Caplico and Pocky sticks to Hokkaido Melon KitKat. A special shout out to chocolatier Royce for coming up with the Potato Chip Chocolate – a weird combination but they seem to pull it off taste-wise.
One whole week and Kyoto and Osaka and we swept Japan’s kitchen clean. Which Osaka food is your favorite? What tasty food would make you want to pack your bags and take a flight to Kansai? Sound off in the comments below!