So there wasn’t that much planning for my Kansai trip with Y – most of what we ended up doing was decided there and then, the night before, or on the day itself while hiding out in the restaurant. What we definitely planned to do a lot of was eat. and to eat a lot. You’ve seen the great udon we had in Kagawa, here are some of the other interesting things we ate on this trip!
Traditional Tastes – Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki
Osaka’s well known for producing some of popular street food that travellers are bound to recognize in their own home countries. Takoyaki, traditionally a flour ball with octopus inside is a must-eat and makes a great snack. We procured some at one of the more popular stores in Dotonburi with snaking queues called Creo-Ru. We popped over to a side table to eat ours while it was hot, and our host M declared that the best way to eat them was to just pop them whole into your mouth while it’s warm.
Can I just say that takoyaki retains heat very well, and I really don’t think it’s a good idea to eat them at one shot if your mouth’s not that big! Still, delicious!
Another treat we indulged in was some locally done Okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is essentially a pancake and is apparently done up differently in different parts of Japan. We had it both at Creo-Ru and at Botejyu, a popular Okonomiyaki chain.
1-6-4 Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Chicken Sashimi… what?!
Yes you read that right, our host M brought us to this little old restaurant that only serves chicken. We had a great chicken don (egg, onions, chicken topping a bowl of rice) and a whole bunch of chicken skewers, from normal meat bits like the breast and wing, to weirder bits like the cartilage and neck.
But the weirdest thing of all is chicken sashimi. Japan is known for its various seafood sashimi, I’ve heard of beef carpaccio, but raw chicken… to be fair the chicken was not completely raw, just barely seared all around, and while I was really apprehensive about putting it in my mouth, it was surprisingly yummy – super fresh and not tasting gross at all despite what you might imagine!
The other things in the dish were chicken liver – very much like foie gras in its creamy texture; and the dark red one was chicken heart. Yes, it looks a lot like meat but it’s really chewy (M here rolls his eyes and says ‘the heart’s a muscle, what were you expecting?’) and a bit icky for me. Still, been there done that!
Tori Shika ???
A Whole Lot of Bull… the good sort!
Our first night in Osaka, M takes us out to a really great restaurant in the Ebisubashi area – I’m pretty sure we would have never walked in here on our own because it’s in off the main shopping stretch and on the 4th level of a skinny building. You take a dinky lift up and it opens up into a dimly lit swanky sort place where we got to sample some of the best beef around at Matsusakagyu Yakiniku.
There’s a grill in the middle of the table, and we ordered the special set, which is a platter with 6 different parts of beef in it with vegetables which you cook for yourself. To show us non-native speakers what we were eating, our waiter thoughtfully provided us with a little paper cheatsheet in English that explained (in typical lyrical slightly nonsensical Japanese style) what parts of the cow we were eating exactly, diagram and all included (check out the menu here!).
This beef is supposed to be a level up on the more famous Kobe beef, and truly it was quite spectacular – I’ve never quite had meat melt in my mouth like that. My favourite one was the Sirloin… getting hungry just thinking about it!
Not cheap though, but definitely worth the indulgence!
Matsusakagyu Yakiniku – Hozenji Hanare
2F, Daruma Bldg, 1-5-24, Namba, Chuo-ku, Osaka-city, 542-0076, JAPAN
Opening Hours: 5pm – 12am (last order 11pm) / 12pm – 3pm (Sat, Sun, Nat Hol)
See all my posts about Osaka and the Kansai region.
Or check out the rest of the posts about other spots in Japan.