Thursday, May 08, 2008

Miscellaneous Food: Osaka

After Kyoto, Osaka was a mega-city with not much traditional charm but a bustling nightlife and food street.

It was raining pretty heavily when we arrived, despite that, we headed out to the giant crab and squid fixtures in Donburi and found the takopachi balls that we'd been eyeing the whole trip.

The best one was definitely the first stall we came across- fat squidy balls with fresh tasting dough and heaps of garnish, with dashi flakes that fluttered in the wind, weighed down by the drizzled mayonnaise.

I managed to do all the street-type eating that didn't get done in hectic Tokyo and which couldn't be found in traditional Kyoto. This was the ramen store, with the traditional vending machine for ramen bowl tickets.

The next morning, for breakfast, we went to Song Wu, a chain of Yoshinoya type restaurants (but more declasse). This was also a hole-in-the-wall counter where you had to buy a ticket and squeeze onto a stool (and eat with the Japanese equivalent of construction workers).

They had all different kinds of beef bowls that they prepared in their very efficient narrow counter kitchen. A grill for frying meat, a stove with a giant vat for stewed meat and another of sauce, a rice cooker and a fridge for cold salads and fruit, all very tidy and compact. Their beef bowl was yummy...I'm sure it was oily and sitting overnight inside the vat but it was so good! Like a lot of street food in Japan, I found it to be of very decent standard and value!

In Osaka, I also finally had time to stop and smell the supermarkets and department stores. Their food halls are marvellous, very expensive again but with tons of snack, biscuit and pastry stands and disturbing Japanese ladies with fixed smiles and pastel uniforms and peaked caps, according to which store they work for. The pastry stands in particular have gorgeous little mont blancs and strawberry shortcakes and cream puffs, just absotely perfect and petite.

I oogled at their gigartuan, overpriced fruit and enjoyed the heated, soothing toilet stalls and basins. Truly, a developed, clean's so maniacal yet manicured, it's quite scary.

On the last day back in Tokyo, I had of course, to go to Sadaharu Aoki and eat all his green tea pastries. However, I packed them up to go, as that day also contained a surprise, an improptu trip to line up for tickets to Jack Johnson's beachside concert in Yokohama.

I never knew that Yokohama was just slightly under an hour away by metro from Tokyo and that they had such a beautiful pierside city. The concert was 6 hours of surfer music, set next to the Red Brick Warehouse and as it turned out, the weather was perfect, the ticket line was short and we were early for a fantastic scene of flowers, ocean and Sadaharu Aoki tea-time pastries! I do like Japan!

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