I have a confession: this is maybe not the MOST unusual or hidden side of Osaka because, I mean, this city is pretty legendary in terms of WTF spots. However, since I didn’t do the usual Osaka circuit, I do feel I have a few new insights to bring to the table (haha, yes I’m that clever!). So pop a takoyaki in your mouth, and read on!
Ya, let’s start with takoyaki, because it’s Osaka. You can get them everywhere. You can BECOME a takoyaki if that’s what your heart desires. Since I’m currently trying to become a yuzu, I’ve settled for just eating them instead.
There was no way I was coming and going from Osaka without having their famous takoyaki, and so I initially settled on going to Hanadako near Umeda station. SPOILET ALERT: it never happened!
It never happened because, NO THANK YOU Google Maps, we kept turning around in circles, always missing it by 10 metres. But happy accidents always lead to tasty discoveries, and that’s how we ended up at the closet sized Takoyaki Baby. It’s not far from Hanadako, it fits about 5-6 people (standing up) and is VERY delicious! We shared the classics with mayo and a mountain of green onions, as well as the cheese and ponzu sauce version. Those balls were HOT and HUGE, yes, you can insert a dirty joke.
*Unfortunately I don’t have an address to provide, as it’s one of those hole in the wall finds BUT if you look for Hanadako, it’s close by.
Osaka is THE party city in Japan, or so I’ve heard, since I was travelling with family I didn’t exactly get my freak on but, we did indulge in many a drink. Hey, we’re French, of course apéro is going to make an appearance here.
I don’t know why but, we just kept flocking to closet sized establishments on this trip, and that’s exactly what Oui is. A delightful bar, whose owner is a Francophile and played George Gainsbourg for us when he learnt we were French; with room for about 8 people, and many a wonderful drink to offer. My highlights were the 2014 Umeshu national winner, a milky umeshu, as well as a coffee whisky.
Now, you need to know, that we had a few drinks there as an apéro before supper (which happened to be right next door at 串焼き バッテンよかとぉ アメリカ村店)* and we went BACK after supper for our digestif.
Yes yes, we do good things twice!
*See Izakaya, last piece
8G Horie RiverTerrace
If you check out their website you’ll see the word “wedding” in there as well as pictures with foreigners. DO NOT BE ALARMED. Leave whatever building prejudice you may be having at the (restaurant) door or else you’ll be losing out on a delicious experience.
Located in the rising hipster neighbourhood of Horie, the restaurant is a big black building that overlooks the Shirinashi river which means you’ll have a pleasant view during your meal.
The look of panic from the seating lady at seeing foreigners appear was the first sign that, if this is a touristy-place, it’s certainly not foreigner-touristy; having all the waiters AND chef in the open kitchen stare at us with outmost surprise seemed to confirm my theory. Luckily we had made a reservation so, everyone knew we meant to be there and didn’t just accidentally wander into the wrong building.
You’ll get your own private room so as to enjoy your meal in utmost privacy. So let’s get down to the food shall we? Now pay close attention, this is VERY important: skip to the END of the menu, past all the individual plates, and order the menu of the day. You’ll be served around 7-8 courses, kaiseki style.
My standouts were the delicate (seabream?) sashimi, dipped shabu shabu style into a broth that had yuzu jelly, the kalbi marinated beef that was both buttery and juicy, as well as the apple sorbet whose texture I’ve never before encountered! There was no ruggedness or flakiness to the sorbet, it just evaporated in your mouth. The fish, meat and a final rice dish, were all individually cooked on a mini stone oven, which added to the delight of the eating experience.
They can be fluffy, they can be jiggly, they can be wiggly, they can be airy but they must ALWAYS be cheesy! Or so is my motto for Japanese cheesecake. There was SO much cheesy goodness, we went twice.
Hit up the location in Dotonbori so you can enjoy sitting down at their cafe, as opposed to just grabbing and going. Although you’ll probably wait in line, don’t be discouraged as it moves quite quickly; this despite being able to enjoy your time inside with no sense of rush or urgency. We went during the Christmas holidays between 4-5pm, thus avoiding the later afternooners and early dinner…ers?
Whatever your choice, don’t bypass the original taste in favour of the other fancy flavours. Just go twice! It comes with apricot jam and ice cream, the jam being a really good pairing with the cheese. Oh and you’ll probably end up sharing it because that cake is RICH. CHEESY. GOOEY. All around goodness oozing out of a buttery and flaky crust. We tried the original flavour as well as matcha, and chocolate-cognac; the last two not being of the runny kind, but just as delish.
Osaka is foodie heaven, and we hit up so many izakaya that were all so delicious and had their own stand out dishes, but this one holds a special place for my no doubt liquored up taste buds.
Allow me to praise the house made kimchi from 串焼き バッテンよかとぉ アメリカ村店 as well as both their chicken liver and tongue yakitori; melt in your mouth tenderness, with none of that overly strong offal flavour. If you’ve finally convinced yourself to go for those funny bits, let your first time be there. I’m really not a potato person, unless it’s sweet or fried, so if I praise ANYTHING with potato, you know it’s damn good. Such is their potato salad. Usually a bland mayonnaise mess, this is anything but! Last but not least, try the seemingly bland an uninteresting nagaimo (long mountain potato), grilled and topped with soya sauce and katsuoboshi: crunchy, starchy, salty, a surprising delight.