Traveling. In my opinion, it can be one of the most exciting things you do, or it can be one of the most disastrous; depending on location, company, and season. On a more optimistic view, it’ll be an adventure you’d never forget. Winter 2018 was when I my first winter trip to Osaka. In one word, cold. I have to admit it wasn’t as cold as I thought it’d be (which was feet feel like they’re frozen), but I still need my fleece jacket.
One of the most exciting aspects of traveling is FOOD. (Competition is nice and all, but it only lasts a couple of hours - at most a few days). I kid you not, wherever I go, food is the one thing I always look forward to. The local cuisines and delicacies are always a delightful surprise to get to know the culture and its people. And Japan is no exception.
Of course, moderation is key. So, I make sure I share my meals/snacks with someone to get a bit of everything without over-indulging.
Whether it’s as sushi, sashimi, soups, grilled, I got to see the many different ways they can prepare seafood. All I can say is that I was blown away. The difference in plating, taste, texture, and smells just wowed my senses is ways I couldn’t begin to imagine.
If you’re a fan of crab, this one is for you! This restaurant, Kani Doraku is famous for their crab-centred dishes. This year they have added sashimi - among other things - into their lunch sets! I got to try crab sashimi, which was very creamy and had a rich and smooth texture. Then there was the crab gratin; surprisingly had a nice balance between the taste of the crab and the taste of the cheese.
One of the main dishes that was a crab on rice. The most interesting part of the experience was that the rice and the crab comes in a tiny, portable pot that will cook the rice and crab while on your table. Then you can only dig in once the fire has stopped burning. You then put the rice into a bowl, top it with crab, and pour as much or as little broth from a teapot. Then, Voila!
Dessert was another aspect that was unique. It reminded me of affogato, but with matcha instead of espresso. Essentially, it is a scoop of vanilla ice cream, floating on a freshly-made matcha. The ice cream added a nice subtle sweetness to the bitter matcha.
Don’t even get me started on street food in Osaka. While fine dining isn’t something people particularly go to Osaka for, the street food is. As a Japanese friend told me, “if you don’t try the Okonomiyaki, you must die!” And she barely uses that tone of language so it was amusing to say the least.
We were able to try okonomiyaki (savoury Japanese pancakes). It was definitely an experience to use the cute, mini teppanyaki spatula. The vegetables and sauces definitely hit the spot after a long day’s walk.
Then we moved on to rice crisp-covered takoyaki (octopus balls). It was interesting to say the least. I don’t know if I’d prefer it over the traditional takoyaki, but it added an extra layer of texture to the dish that I would call unique. The light ginger flavour, and the freshly cut octopus chunk made for a nice chewy snack.
Let’s talk desserts. Mochi, ice cream, cakes are just some of the ways the Japanese express their great attention to detail. Personally my favourite is mochi. They are sweet (but not too sweet), chewy and soft when freshly-made.
Over the years, more and more variety of mochi are coming out, but the traditional ones are still there. Presented in a simple yet clean manner, these desserts are pleasing to both the eyes and the tongue. With a cup of tea on the side, it creates a nice balance between the bitterness of the tea and the sweetness of the mochi/dessert.