Monday, March 31, 2008

Ekiben (again) from Osaka to Tokyo

Ekiben stall in Osaka Station-- while we waited for shinkansen to Tokyo ... There are light box showing visual of food inside each number of ekiben. When I ordered, I just say number only. Again, there are cool fridge for cold beverage and hot cabinet for warm beverage which allow customer to pick and handle to shopkeeper with ekiben.

This time I ordered rice similar to onigiri topped with black sesame & plum. Aside are potato salad, pickle, grilled chicken, oden, together with sweet egg omelet (Tamako).

Osaka : Alcyon Tea Shop

After heavy dinner, we had a night walk for one last time in Dohtonburi, Osaka. We found one small tea shop named ALCYON -- it's a small shop selling tea, cake & decorated bakery, and tea leaf.

Everything was so cute here in this shop -- very neat on putting this and putting that on each item as decoration.

This shop was also on magazine article (shop owner left it to show to customers at the counter table as proven).

Osaka : Local Food

To eat oneself bankrupt is an expression used to describe Osaka people's obsession with food.

According to a popular Japanese saying, Tokyo people ruin themselves by overspending on fine footwear, Kyoto people on fine clothing, and Osaka people on fine food.

Talking about Osaka Local Food, ones must think of Okonomi-yaki and Takoyaki. My last night in Osaka, I went to this shop where they had local dishes available -- again, I just noticed there's a
reference at the front. It's is now movie star (KUI-TAN). Kuitan is a movie drama (and also manga) combined together "real gourmet - deep knowledge of feed" and "real mystery - crime case". KUITAN is the words “Big-Eating (KUIshinbo)” and Detective (TANtei) combined together.

What we ordered that night were : Yakisoba wrapped in a thin sheet of fried egg on hot plate and of course Shrimp Okonomi-yaki ...

Osaka : Kushikatsu

Kushikatsu is a Japanese-style of deep-fried (which can be made with chicken, portk, seafood, or vegetables. Kushi refers to the skewers used while katsu means a deep-fried cutlet of meat. Kushikatsu may be served straight, or with sauce and cabbage.

I saw in TV that there're lots of Kushikatsu where customer eat at counter around the frier. Customer would order whatever the shop had or shown. The rule is that customer may dip only one time into sauce pan. It's the sauce pan for sharing to all ... But if customers need more sauce while eating one of the stick, they just use cabbage (instead of spoon) to pour the sauce on top !!!

Japan : Soft Cone

I like ice-cream -- therefore, can't help talking about ice-cream or soft cone in Japan.
This is the picture of soft cone in America-mura. I have to say WOW, a lot of flavors ... from normal strawberry to fancy name like -- Strawberry Sundae. Zen Chocolate, Choco Stinger, Choco Mixed, Cookie Cream SP, etc.

The Machine is not like ordinary soft cone, where using the liquid and stir & freeze to be soft ice cream texture. It's plastic tube filled with ice-cream which need only press it down into each cone. That's why they are able to sell various flavor in one shop.

However, there are also normal soft cone ... which I tasted it 200Yen in cripy waffle cone. It was filled from bottom of cone ... yummy, creamy, and not so sweet. See the picture !!!

Osaka : Harbs Cake & Tea House near America-mura

This is one of my dream to eat cake and pastry in Japan. Yes, I saw it in Japanese Programme, Japanese Series, and Japanese Manga.

What I know is that Japanese patisserie normally has experienced in France. When back to Japan, they would develop all cake & pastry to be fit to Japanese customer. That's what I amaze about.

This is the shop in Osaka named HARBS -- I noticed from variety that showing that their patisserie must specialize in mille-feuille-crepe-cake.

Right, this were what we ordered ...

From the picture, the white one is Mille Crape Cake (which is mixed fresh fruit such as strawberry, kiwi, peach, banana) @700Yen while the dark one is Chocolate Crape Cake @680Yen. In terms of tea, we ordered Darlgiling Tea (700Yen per pot) and Tea of the season (at that time is apple cinnamon 750Yen per pot).

The taste of cake is so good -- very light feeling & not too sweet. Each piece of crape is very thin & soft (never felt as paper-like).

This shop (you can noticed by queueing & carpet written with Harbs name on) is one block away from America-mura (American Villege) which is a center of youth culture in Osaka. The streets are crammed with used clothing stores, miscellaneous goods shops, cafes, galleries and more ...

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Osaka : Eating in Kuromon Market

As I mentioned, there are lots of sushi shops & restaurants in Kuromon Market. In addition, there are also lots of Maki's Magic Restaurant Programme recommendation. I noticed lots of Maki's Logo.

This programme belongs to Tokyo Broadcasting System, Inc. (TBS) but I noticed that it on-air only in Kansai Area. Lots of shop & market in Kyoto and Osaka were included in. My Japanese friend said that Food is the Kansai people's favourite.

What I like here in Japan is that any shop that had TV programme recommendation or any movie star visited, the shop would have picture(s) shown at the front.

Right, most of the shop in Kuromon had logo, pictures taken with MC who visited (or Maki herself).

Osaka : Kuromon Market

I mentioned earlier about Kuromon Market ... Here is more about it.

Kuromon Market is the most active and busiest food market in Osaka. On both sides of the networks of narrow streets, approximately 150 food shops sell a variety of the freshest food, such as fish, meat, vegetables, fruits, dried seaweed.

They said "Kuromon is the kitchen of Osaka". This is because customers from the entire Osaka City, including not only house wives but cooks of high-class restaurants, look for the best ingredients for their Japanese cooking -- sushi-grade fish, best quality meat, fresh vegetables and fruit, pickled seaweeds and vegetables, including fresh sushi lunch & other small restaurant at bargain prices.

Know more about Kuromon :

I found video about Kuromon Market, Osaka, Japan in YouTube
Try :

Friday, March 28, 2008

Japan : Food Shop Sign

I'm not sure whether anyone who has been in Japan has noticed this ....

Food (or even drink) are pointed out to explained what it is -- very clearly to customer.
These two pictures I took them from Old Town Kyoto & New City like Tokyo. The left picture (even it's a traditional nabe shop in old town), it was pointed out by arrows what were contained in nabe pot. However, the right picture (it's the modern cafe -- a kind like fast food), there were also arrows point out to explain each cup of coffee.
I like Japan !!!

As I always says "They are very thoughtful for their consumer" ...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Osaka : Sushi (Toro) in Kuromon Market

Another following to Maki's Magic Restaurant ... I went out to Kuromon Market to see local fresh foods, again follow what I saw in TV programme. I was very lucky that day to find this shop ... It is a shop selling fresh Tuna (Maguro). Luckier that I found out that this is a shop that Maki's Magic Restaurant recommended. There was a picture of Mizuno Maki and Shop owner in TV programme on the fridge cabinet.

This shop is a family run shop in small room with 3 small tables (enough 8 seats). What we ordered was Makuro marinated in Choyu ontop of rice -- top with seaweed & white sesame.

The service was very nice. Even they could not speak English, they kept asking us whether we are okay ... The most important thing was that shop owner came to us and put one piece of Tuna on each dish. At first, we wonder what it is .... It's a Chutoro (fatty part of the tuna, found in the belly portion of the fish) ...

Wow, as of now I still remember the taste of it ... it was literally melt in my mouth !!!
This is the best sushi I've ever had ...

Kyoto : Yuzu Nabe @ Pontocho Quarter

Pontocho Quarter is a district in Kyoto, known for home to many geisha houses and traditional tea houses. It is 600 metre long and 50 metre wide -- locate near Kamo River (or Kamogawa).

Actually, when I was there, I realized that this is where the crime scene happened in "Detective Conan Crossroad in ancient capital" movie. The movie was talking about one tea houses where Mouri Gogoro and other 3 local characters drunk with geisha. It was mentioned about the plan where murderer planned to put knife across the Kamogawa River ...

Now back to food, I found one shop in Pontocho where they sell Nabe (Japanese Pot Dishes). At this shop, you can called "Donabe" since the pot was traditionally made of clay which can keep warm for a while after being taken off the fire. The soup was based on broth and yuzu. Key selling point of this shop is YUZU -- is one of Japanese citrus fruit with a sour taste & good unique smell. The way to order is to pick what type of meat you need (i.e., chicken, pork, fish, etc) -- no beef since they said it's not go well with their broth. The way to order is that One person for one order, but you can cook/share the pot. For a good combination, I suggest to order vegetable to eat with.

When they served us, they brough fresh pork & fish together in one plate with 2 pieces of lemon. Shop owner said that we could squeeze lemon onto our soup or wherever you liked ...

This shop is very outstanding since there is a big visual of YUZU at the front (even the shop owner and waiter/ess also wear black t-shirt with a visual of yuzu at the back).

What I like most is that this shop open earlier at 17:00 !!!

I have to say " This is my favourite shop -- I like it most among all I ate during my Japan trip in February 2008"

For more information :

Kyoto : Mochi Udon at Nichiki Market

This is one of my food hunting programme -- followed the route of Maki's Magic Restaurant. Here is Mochi Shop called "Mochitsukiya" in Nichiki Market where they normally sell different kinds of mochi. Mochi is Japanese Rice Cakemade of glutinous rice pounded into paste and molded into shape -- it is very sticky.

For this shop, of course, their hero product is Mochi. Therefore, during lunch time (only 11:00 - 14:00), they sell UDON -- Japanese Wheat Noodle cooked in fish broth and seasoned with soysauce.

In the Left picture is Special Udon Set 780Yen which was Udon with grill rice cake, tempura flake, Neghi, and seaweed. It was served with Grilled Onigiri (Japanese Rice Formed into triangle shape) -- in this case, they mixed only with salt. Just only salt, I was able to taste the real flavour of rice ... WOW ...

While the Right picture is Chikara udon or "Power udon" 580 Yen which was Udon with pieces of rice cake (plain & red pepper), minced green onion, and some fish paste. A little hot on Mochi but very tasty.

The shop itself has area of selling mochi at the front with a show of how to make mochi. Inside, is the kitchen follwed by tables with chairs and area that you can sit on the tatami floor.

Shop information :
Tel: 075-223-1717

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Osaka : Negiyaki (Okonomiyaki)

Okonomiyaki is said to be originated in Osaka. Yes, I tasted it especially the one with Japanese Spring Onion (Negiyaki).

Okonomiyaki is a pan-fried batter cake and various ingredients. Okonomi means "what you like" or "what you want", and yaki means "grilled" or "cooked".
To have negiyaki, it must be in Kansai (where Osaka is) ... it must be big pile of negi on top of noamal batter and take long time to cook (by chef of course) -- worth waiting ...

The one I poped into is in Dohtonburi, Osaka namely "Houzenji San-Pei". It is the shop where TV Show "Maki's Magic Restaurant" recommend. You can trust her !!!

If you do not remember Mizuno Maki -- check this out :

Osaka : Ice-cream in Sammy's Ebisu

This left picture I took from Sammy's Ebisu Plaza, Osaka. It's a scoop of ice-cream in cone -- cone here is not in normal shape, it is 2 seperated shells where a scoop of ice-cream is in the middle. The whole thing is in paper sleeve. I have to say, how can this shell be so fresh and crispy ?!?!

Now, about SAMMY'S EBISU PLAZA in Osaka ... It was shown in map as tourist attraction -- refer to that smiley face (as in right picture). It is on Dotonburi (near Big Crab & Glico man -- symbol of Osaka) in 3-4 storey building opportunity Big Crab . They said that delicious food all over Osaka is here !!! The set up is like Old Style Temple Fair or Fun Fair (theme park) -- Have to respect the setting.

On my opinion, don't bother going in ... you can find fresh local food outside !!! Anyway, you can try and see by yourself -- no admission fee, elevator available and only pay cash later after you eat. Check out at :

Tokyo Station : Yakitori Ekiben

This is a closer look of one Ekiben : Yakitori @ 950 Yen Price -- very neat indeed !!! Again, I have to say "Very thoughtful of Japanese on the bombination -- Rice (underneath) top with roast chicken, shreaded egg, bamboo, gari (pickle ginger) with a side dish of potato salad, shitake & carrot & horse radish cooked in shoyu.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Ekiben (Shinkansen Hikari from Tokyo to Osaka)

EkiBen : (Eki = station, Obento = meal in box)

Real Ekiben in Japan is in Foam box (a good quality) cover with Paper Toplid. It was in shrink wrap for cleanliness with chopstick inside. When I bough it, shopkeeper also gave me a wipe (with the commercial tea brand).

In the picture : two Ekiben and Hot Tea (Shizuoka Tea 290g) in can. It was a warm tea labelling with somekind of foamy paper (to protect consumer when handle) --- Very thoughtful, Japanese !!!