25 January 2011
Japan Street Food Tour Day 7 ~ Sashimi, Curry, Izakaya, Crepes, Ramen - Happy Happy!
We tour Osaka by bike, get offered a Japanese crepe franchise, and end the day 'happy happy!'
We've been exploring Osaka every which way we can, and decide to take up the hostel offer of free bikes for the day. If the grannies can get around this way, then we can.
We pedal through the morning off to work crowd to have breakfast down at the Dotonburi. There's still a place left from the last time we visited we want to try again. We are warned by the hostel to make sure we don't park illegally - so we end up chained right in the middle.
On our last visit to Osaka we tried sashimi don we couldn't believe was so good and fresh. We came back here for a late breakfast, it's in the same arcade as the famous ramen shop with the dragon.
There's every type of sashimi don you could imagine. You can even build your own if you have favourites. The pre selected choices are a far cheaper option.
This place is tiny. There's no room for elbow flapping, but it has only just opened so we get a roomy spot.
Like a lot of the joints on Dotonburi, there are photos of the famous people who have eaten here.
I was going to go the cod roe, but the price of the dish doubled...
So I went with octopus (my favourite), salmon roe and sea urchin. I've never had so much sea urchin before, I'm sure this portion must have pushed them toward extinction. It was strongly flavoured and best shared. The big bubbles of salmon roe are snap crackle pop-alicious.
Shawn goes for the lightly grilled fatty salmon. The oily salmon was just lightly seared.
Toro Salmon Aburi, 1000 yen.
After looking around the Dotonburi for a while (knowing we won't head back down this way) we wheel off on our wobbly way and head toward Den Den town.
It's getting around lunch time and we find this curry house. This curry place boasts 'Since 1983 No 1 in Japan if best in Osaka.' Humble, really. It was either this or curry in a can, which we are determined to find next time. And they had bike parking out the front.
You chose your items via the vending machine, as in all the best places in Japan. The prices are good for an early lunch snack.
Put in in the curry.
From the pictures on the machine, it looked like a cutlet covered in sauce, but it turned out to just be cutlet shaped rice and sauce. The curry was still great, and really filling. Good bicycling fuel.
It wouldn't be a proper Alison and Shawn adventure if we didn't get lost. We ended up cycling across town way in the wrong direction, and backtracking some areas we walked through earlier in our trip.
We blame the monkeys. You know, the ones that sneak into your house and smoke, eat potato chips and drink all your beer.
They'd never be allowed into to the John Denver cafe. It was closed when we went past. I guess when the sun comes up they got cakes on the griddle.
We stop at a crepe shack in Momodori. I have black sesame ice cream to ease my riding pain.
Shawn goes with a caramel crepe, our first real japanese crepe experience. There's no turning back.
The owner sees us taking photos and offers to sell us a franchise to take back to Sydney. And I've got a property to sell him on Lake George in exchange...
Japanese crepes are the eighth wonder of the desert world. The selection of toppings is sheer sweet fantasy.
Japanese John Howard.
After our cycling tour we head off to find a stand up bar. We are not rushing to do any sitting down. This Shag style advertising chappie entices us with a whisky soda.
One of the things we love about travel is how you can walk past a place a dozen times and then on your last night you decide to enter, and it's a highlight of your trip. Bar Nomen in Fukushima is a tiny stand up bar run by twins. They cheer when you enter, when you order, when you speak a few words of Japanese and the whole bar joins in. Every now and then they call out 'Happy Happy!' and everyone responds with a 'Happy Happy!' in return. It was very happy.
The bar has the usual izakaya staples of endamame and mystery meats.
There's something magic about salty edamame and beer.
We share a small snacky plate of chicken bits...
... followed by some fresh chestnuts offered to us by the bar.
Lightly grilled mushrooms with a sprinkle of lemon.
My favourite foods in the izakaya come from the big pot of mystery items bubbling like some witches cauldron.
I end up going for skewered intestines, egg, and sweet potato, served with a smear of mustard.
A hunk of tofu from the same pot.
This little promotional guy held toothpicks.
A couple of fellow happy happy drinkers, candidates for the Japanese version of 'The Office'.
My affair with asian sausages continues, helped by the perfect sides of ketchup and mustard. Where else would it be served on a Snoopy plate?
Everyone say 'Happy happy!' Random people join in the photo shoot too.
Our presento from the bar. Even the potato chips are happy!
After beers and snacks we were still hungry. On the way home we walked by another place we had passed often, so decided to round off the night with another ramen.
This trip gave me a real incentive to learn Japanese characters - what have we missed?
The open kitchen was steaming and bubbling with pots of broth. It's one of the greatest joys to sit right at the counter and watch your meal get made in front of you.
The cook lives out the shift open to the punters, pulling out boiling noodles, ladling broth and embellishing the lot with shallots and slices of pork.
The result. Yet another glorious ramen to try.
Additional chilli optional, a nice change sometimes to beef up the flavour.
We finish the night with a random beer selection and japanese lemonade. And a little cry - it was our last night before we headed home the next day.