Sunday, July 2, 2017

Osaka Food


We don't pretend to be the penultimate foodies--we've got far too many allergies and aversions for that. But when we heard that there is a place in Osaka called Dotonbori that celebrates all things food-related, we knew it was a destination we had to add to our list.  We had so much fun wandering around watching the animated food signs, people enthusiastically taking photos of their food, food trucks and walk-up food stands and street hawkers, oh my!

The legs on this crab move, like many of the signs on Dotonbori

What these photos don't convey is just how full of jolly carnival noise the street was. The video below gives you a bit of the flavor of Dotonbori.

Our first night there we tried an izakaya first, ordering all manner of fried things on sticks. There's lotus root, shrimp, sausage, and pepper, among other things we can't identify.


The izakaya was smoky, however, and so we left after one round of fried sticks, and decided to just wander around and buy what looked good off the street. First stop was the gyoza stand.


They were running a little behind at the cashier, so we got a chance to watch them make gyoza at record pace while we waited.

Charcoal grilled crab
Next up was charcoal grilled crab, which had our mouths watering from the second we wandered on to Dotonbori street.  They were a bit spendy for how much we got, and also more difficult to eat than we expected, but they were delicious.

"Melon" ice cream sandwich
At that point we were ready to move on to first dessert, so we headed over to the food truck section, where we ordered a melon pan ice cream sandwich. Why is it called a melon pan? Mostly because it looks like melon, but what it really is is a sweet bread dough covered with cookie dough. The inside is soft and the outside is like a sugar cookie. Here they cut the melon bun in half and stuff it full of ice cream. It was delicious, and the melon buns had just come out of the oven so they were still warm on the outside when we got our first one.


Lana goofing around while we took a little break from eating. Every so often that statute's eyes would bug out and his jaw would unhinge. Creepy.


Our second dessert (don't judge) was taiyaki, a fish-shaped cake cooked in a fish-shaped griddle mold and filled with various things, chocolate, custard, or more traditionally red azuki beans. We got sweet potato and vanilla. We got another the next night (don't judge) with red bean, which we liked a lot.


We spent some great hours in various markets in Osaka as well, combing through their offerings, everything from beautiful produce and plastic food to a whole store for chopsticks and huge whole wasabi roots.

plastic food

A shop just for chopsticks


We didn't stop for a snack of baby octopus grilled on a stick with a quail egg stuffed in its head, covered in a sticky sauce, but we did take a photo of it when we saw it.

Fresh wasabi root

After our very awkward and strange tour that we don't really want to revisit, we did go to a yakiniku place for dinner, where we got the most beautifully marbled beef and "vegetables" which ended up being a few slices of kabucha squash, which is grilled on a grate covered fire built into the table. It was delicious despite the strange tour guide company.


After we ditched our guide we wandered around some of the narrow alleyways filled with 4-6 seat bars, but were too intimidated to go in.  


We instead worked our courage up to try some takoyaki, which was surprisingly delicious! Our final sample (before a final melon cookie ice cream sandwich and one last fish cake) was a plate of takoyaki, which is basically an octopus filled abelskiver. In the video below you can see the steam from the hot takoyaki making the bonito flakes on the top of the them wave around.  While we waited for ours to cool a bit, we saw a Japanese business man, straight from work in his suit, get an order, and dig right in.  He very clearly burned his mouth, and we waited another few minutes--they were still incredibly hot, but so very tasty.

When we return to Japan, Osaka will definitely be on our list again.  We feel like we just had the appetizers before we had to move on again.