26 November 2010

Japan Street Food Tour Day 4 ~ Osaka, Himeji & Shinsaibashi

Day four of our Japanese food fest: we eat our way from Fukushima to Himeji to Dotonbori. And survive a near lethal dose of Mister Donut.

For breakfast we hit a stand-up noodle bar around the corner from our hostel in Fukushima, Osaka. We love this place to bits

Soba noodles in plain broth.

Udon noodles in plain broth. This dish is so simple but was one of my all time favourites. To me it's the perfect breakfast: warm salty broth for a morning rehydration hit, and some carbs for Weetbix power.

I could make this breakfast at home but it just ain't the same. It's better when made by tops Japanese ladies. The gals worked all day every day, early morning to midnight. Every time we walked by we saw the lady on the right on her feet, no matter what time of day. I wish I asked her for a proper photo, she has a lovely face that tells a thousand stories.

Sushi snacks to go on the counter. Incidently we saw sushi for sale like this much more than sushi train joints. Sushi trains are hard to find but they are around, and worth the hunt.

We catch the train to see Himeji Castle, but not before having a ball in a depochika. Himeji Castle is being restored and covered in scafolding. Just our luck. It was still amazing, and I'm hard to impress when it comes to tourist attractions.

We wander around Himeji and quickly fall in love with the place. Himeji is a laid-back kinda town with a big wide main street and an almost small-town American feel to the town centre. A great place for aimless walking.

Coffee break at our favourite Japanese coffee chain, Choco Cro.

Cheap and deliciously unhealthy bakery snacks to ready to plunge to our waistlines.

Ice coffee, American coffee, cheese and bacon pastry and a wee chicken burger. A traditional Japanese morning tea ;-)

Tops old lady scrum for street fruit.

Japanese ice creams are insanely good. We don't see ice cream vending machines too often so we can't pass it up.

I go for the creme caramel drumstick, which is almost as good as it sounds, I wish I went for the strawberry cheesecake. Miss Chicken is very happy with green tea flavour. In fact, she became a little obesessed by it.

I like this shot as it shows just how ubiquitous vending machines are.

Double decker bike storage.

And on the 8th day, God invented beer vending machines. A big 500ml can for 180 yen, just over $2. Heaven.

I'm becoming a vending machine spotter nerd. This one selling some kind of cheap rice spirit is a rarity.

A sea of bicycles outside the supermarket. It's a tricky business to retrieve your bike when it's quadruple parked right at the front.

We take a while to find a place that's to our liking for lunch. Eventually we hit gold.

Asahiya is a wonderful old diner type place, right up our alley.

Beer on tap, even in a little old joint like this. We love Japan.

We made an instant best friend who must have been on his eighth beer at lunch. He was very happy and insisted on carrying on a conversation with me from the other side of the restaurant. The waitresses scolded him and made him be quiet. He struck this pose for a photo, I have no idea what it means. A nice bloke. He made my day.

Ready made snackage.

More ready made snackage.

Even more ready made snackage. You just choose, and it gets delivered hot or cold, as you like, even the salad.

Will the snackage ever end?

Yes, more snackage.


Cute as a button bunny rabbit plate.

Octopus with mystery balls. Probably a type of yam.

Silken tofu with finely shredded ginger and the ever present sliced green shallots.

Beef bowl. Lovely thin slices of beef marinated in sweet sauce with onions on top of rice. Yeah baby.

Chicken katsudon. A deep fried chicken cutlet wrapped in a lovely gooey egg mixture. Divine.

I love the sense of design that goes into everyday things.

We notice this place has some vintage... We asked the boss lady how old this place was. She stops to think then goes and asks the other boss lady at the counter. Much discussion ensues and even an abacus appears. Eventually they come back with an answer. This place has been here since the 1950s. 

The beautiful boss ladies. They were so friendly and made a simple lunch into one of those magic travel moments. Once again we find it hard to describe just how friendly these folks were, it was like we had a little lunch time party, it was truly wonderful.

Standup noodle soup bar on a platform at Himeji train station.

Slurp and run.

Order by vending machine. It's much easier when there's pictures.

We get back to Osaka and walk into the Shinsaibashi Dotonbori area. This is a bit of a naughty street we see on the way

Upmarket restaurant. Looks too posh for us...

This is more our style. A street vendor with a cart full of goodies. We bought a small triangle of pressed noodles, about 200 yen. The hot dog rolls were also full of yakisoba - probably a great way to use up what's left at the end of the day, and brilliant for some Friday night 'better get a lining on your stomach before I drink myself into oblivion' snackage.

Dotonbori. Lots of people, neon, food and fun.

How to decide where to eat when there's food on many floors?

A very popular joint that serves 'cutlets', which are kind of mince meat patties. Quite fatty but lots of fun. We ate at this place last time we were here. It's like Pirates of the Cutlet.

Cutlet joy. You really do get only that many chips.

More cutlet joy. We've been meaing to get to Pepper Lunch in Sydney for similar goodness.

Takoyaki (octopus ball) vendor.

A popular ramen joint in the middle of dotunburi. One of the few places you can sit outside and eat, and that offers garlic and chili if you need a hit.

We ate here on our last trip and give it the thumbs up.

But this place around the corner is what we came for.

Order and pay for your ramen by vending machine before you enter. I wish I saw the extra side orders on the bottom - I would have got an extra soft googie.

Counter menu.

Counter fixins. Long lengths of spring onions, garlic paste and chili oil.

Serious slurping.

My ramen.

Miss Chicken's ramen, with googie egg.

The soft boiled eggs are divine.

More ramen fixens.

It's a very busy place. Extremely well organised. When you walk in the door somebody points to a seat and a mug of complimentary tea appears before you even sit down.

Celebrity autographs above the coat rack. Everyone gets a coathanger to keep your coat away from the slurps.

Groovy artwork hanging from arcade ceilings. What does it all mean?

More joints to eat...

This place looked great, we'll have to save it for next visit.

So much food...

We wander back to Fukushima and decide to try some Mister Donut. This place is just around the corner from our hostel and it is always packed.

I go for a strawberry donut, you can't go wrong with strawberry donut. Except at Mr Donut. These don't do it for me: sickly strawberry on top of a greasy light bready donut. Yech.

The plain donut sinks our boat as well, oily, bready. I love donuts of all kinds: from your basic hot cinamon number to your third world day-old street snack type, even a Krispy Kreme cardio-killer. I'm not a fussy guy. But Mr Donut, not so good. American style fast food in Japan strikes out again.


  1. I want a Japanese Food Vending Machine in my kitchen at home...really. I like the cutlet pirates serving size of chips - I only ever want a few on my plate as I have NO self control and can eat them til I'm sick.

  2. I'm the same, a few chips is all I wan. See, the Japanese are ahead in every way :-)

  3. omg kamakura ramen, my favourite yum!

  4. The photo of the pissed dude cracks me up. What a character. Lovin the Japanese posts

  5. The love Mr Donut over there. When I was there for a school trip the family I was staying with got me donuts for breakfast! I just couldn't do it..

  6. Donuts for breakfast - that's hardcore! We noticed Mr Donut was busy at all hours...

  7. Your "food blog" has an enourmous impact of good karma on humanity. Justifiably or not much of my perception about the Japanese had it roots in what occured as a result Japanese agression during WWII. I perceived the Japanese as cruel, barbaric, inhumane, severly lacking in empathy, deserving of Hiroshima & Nagasaki. Your "food blog" clearly illustrates that all people in this world are exactly the same. On the surface we might speak a different language, eat different food and look a little different, but once you scratch the surface we are all exactly the same, with the same capacity to do good and evil. You have had a profound effect on changing my perception of the Japanese people and for this reason I salute you. Don't underestimate the good work you are doing with your "food blog" because your blog is much more. I suspect that if you parachuted into a conflict zone and presented the population as "new best friend",etc in the same way as you have with Japanese in your "food blog" you would probably earn a Noble Peace prize. Keep up the excellent work.

  8. Thanks for the blog. I am going to Osaka next month and your blog will be such a helpful guide in looking for affordable eating in Osaka!

    1. Enjoy Osaka! There's so much to enjoy there, some in a very different style to Tokyo. Not as busy and chaotic, a little bit more laid back we think.


Thanks for your comment joy - please keep your musings happy - if you want to complain about a restaurant please do it on a restaurant review site (or your own blog) - we're all about celebrating cultural diversity and the great eats that come along with it :-)

Our ethics: We pay for all our own meals and travel (though sometimes Mum shouts us).