Osaka Eats

Since my last two posts documents where to eat in Hong Kong and Tokyo , I figure I’ll continue this trend and document eating places in Osaka. This way, my friends (and also myself) can find it in one place.

Sushi Places

Ichibazushi (市場ずし)

https://tabelog.com/en/osaka/A2701/A270201/27012165/

This is one of my earlier finds when I first went to Osaka and I continue to go back when I’m in Osaka. It’s not a fancy sushi nor an expensive place. It has quality fish and is consistent every time. There’s a couple of shops within the Shinsaibashi area but the one I’ve listed is the biggest one. There’s often a line during peak hours and they don’t take reservations. They have cooked foods as well, but I haven’t tried any.

Beef Places

Kisoji 木曽路 – Sukiyaki/Shabu Shabu

http://www.kisoji.co.jp/kisoji/english/index.html (English)
http://kisoji.co.jp/kisoji/index.html (Japanese)

This is part of a chain and has locations in major cities of Japan and was a recommendation from a friend. I went to the Shisaibashi outlet, very close to the Apple Store. I went there several times and have had both their sukiyaki and shabu shabu. Both were good, but preferred sukiyaki simply because of the richness from the Sukiyaki sauce (and the beef fat that needs to be used for searing the beef!) They also offer a small selection of other dishes, like salads, toro (fatty tuna) and seared beef. I must say, for a restaurant specializing in beef, their toro is just as good as any sushi restaurant! A must have! I would recommend making reservations as the one in Shinsaibashi has limited seating.

 

Kitamura Sukiyaki House  北むら すき焼 

http://shimizu.or.jp/kitamura/home.html

A Michelin 1 star restaurant, Kitamura has been open since 1881. Similar to other traditional and established places, they also have a butcher shop attached to the restaurant where locals can purchase their beef to have at home. This is another restaurant where reservations are recommended. This is one of my go to if I want Sukiyaki.

Other Japanese Goodies

Ajinoya 味乃家 – Okonomiyaki

http://ajinoya-okonomiyaki.com/top/

I rarely eat okonomiyaki because I find it too saucy and extremely filling. However, my opinions have slightly changed after dining at this place. It’s still saucy and filling, but the combination of the ingredients and condiments blends perfectly together and it’s not too oily, unlike other places I’ve been to. A friend took me to this famous spot where lines can be very long (no reservations) during peak hours. I was told that different regions in Japan serve their own versions. The Kansai style (ones in the Osaka area) typically have all ingredients mixed together in a thick batter, whereas other places like Hiroshima (the most famous) the batter is more crepe like and ingredients are layered on top of each piece of crepe. The taste of the sauce is slightly different too. This place is definitely worth a try, but go during off peak hours!

 

Rikuro’s Cheesecake 

http://www.rikuro.co.jp/cheesecake/

This is one of the most fluffiest, and smoothest cheesecakes I’ve had. The best part, it’s quite airy, so it’s not filling at all (which means I can have more)! In the Namba shop where I usually buy it from, there’s always a long line waiting for the freshly baked cheesecake to be available. Every time a batch of cheesecakes are ready, the staff rings a cow bell a hot iron stamp with the Rikuo’s logo is stamped on each cheesecake before it is sold. They have various stores in Osaka, but not all of them have freshly made ones. I always go to the Namba store (a very short walk from Takashimaya department store). This store has a sitting area, so after purchasing the cheesecake I can have it right away when it’s still hot! Always buy the freshly made ones, it’s so worth it!

Chain/Nationwide Spots

Hiroshino Coffee 

http://www.hoshinocoffee.com/

There’s a lot of coffee places in Osaka that’s worth going to, but for chain coffee shops, my favorite is Hiroshino Coffee. Not only are their coffees good (they have a wide offering), their food selection is also worth trying out. I’ve been there for lunch and also afternoon tea. I particularly like their thick pancakes. These ones are quite dense, but it’s has a strong egg and butter flavor, which is quite hard to find elsewhere (at least in a chain store).

 

Gozasoro 御座候- Imagawayaki Red bean dessert

http://gozasoro.co.jp/

Imagawayki, or obanyaki (in the Kansai region) is a pancake like dessert with a red bean filing. It is common dessert/snack in Japan and is readily available, but not all places make good ones. In Osaka, I found a stall in the basement level of Takashimaya department store in Namba that makes one of the best ones I’ve had in Osaka. Apparently this brand can be found throughout Japan too. The store in Takashimaya makes fresh Imagawayki  so it’s nice and hot when served. There’s two flavors, red bean and white bean. I’ve only tried the red and has the perfect amount of sweetness. There’s often a line, but every time I went, I didn’t have to wait for long as they’re pretty efficient. Locals often buy by the dozens to take home.

Tokyo Eats

I’ve been to Japan dozens of times and friends always ask for restaurant recommendations. While I have some favorites, my usual answer is I usually pick restaurants based on where I end up at the end of the night, rather than reserving places before arriving to Japan. This way, it wouldn’t restrict me from having to rush to the reservation if I was at the other side of town. I was told, at least in Tokyo, that there would be a charge for any cancelations regardless of reason. I know some desirable places really need reservations, so I have since limited myself to making 1 restaurant reservation on each trip so that I can try those more desirable restaurants. I do also sometimes make same day reservations for places I know may need a booking.  Also, I don’t tend to go to too fancy places, or Michelin starred restaurants. I find there’s a lot of good choices everywhere I go.

Instead of sending restaurant info emails to friends or me keeping track of business cards (which I’ve lost a lot of already), I’ve decided to list out my favorite places here. This list will be updated when necessary. Most of these places didn’t have English menus nor did their staff spoke any English, but it was still easy to communicate as their menus usually had pictures.

SUSHI PLACES

Sushi Midori 寿司の美登利

http://www.sushinomidori.co.jp/shop.php?name=shibuya

They have various locations in Tokyo but the one I usually go to is in Shibuya. They don’t take reservations and the wait can be long. During my last visit (Jan. 2017) we waited for 3 hours, but the average wait is around 1.5 – 2 hours. They now have have a ticket system, so you can walk around while you wait for the table instead of lining up (which we have done many times). Although there is a long wait, I still frequent this place at least once every time because I find the sushi to not only be of quality, but the cuts  of the fish are generous. They also have cooked items and sides. The average check per person is around HK$250 (US$31). It’s definitely value for money!

img_3194

Shibuya Shop

Uogaashi-Ichi Standing Sushi Bar 魚がし日本一 

http://www.uogashi-nihonichi.com/english/

Like sushi Midori, there are a number of outlets within Tokyo. The one I go to is in Shinjuku. This was a recent random find. As it states, it’s a standing sushi bar, so the shop (at least the one in Shinjuku) is quite small, with around 15 spots. This place usually isn’t that busy, but during peak times, there is a short line. The average check is about HK$250 (US$31).

Chapter 1 – Food Finds: Hong Kong

I can’t say I’m the type of person who constantly searches for the newest restaurants in town, and who will go out of their way just to try a new restaurant. I’m the type who stumbles across restaurants I haven’t tried (new or old) and if it’s convenient for me, I’ll give it a try.

The Hong Kong restaurant scene reminds me of the New York City, the strongest and fittest survives. Being the 10th anniversary since my move back to Hong Kong this year, I definitely have my favorite ‘go to’ places, but at the same time, I do get curious to try new places that I come across – whether it be a friend’s recommendation, a review, or if I just simply pass by.

I can’t say I’m an organized person, so more often than not when I try to recall the restaurant I went to last week (forget about last month!) I struggle to locate the information. More often than not, I use my Instagram page as a first reference point, but I still find it difficult. Therefore, I’ve decided to document my food finds here, on my blog! It’s a great reference point for me, and it’ll be good to share it with you too! I will share three food finds periodically focusing on different parts of the world, so be sure to check back often! I will not only share positive recommendations, but also not so great finds, which really is to remind me not to go there again! For my first post, I’ve decided to highlight my home base – Hong Kong! So here goes:

Spot 1Pho Vietnamese Restaurant (越色牛肉粉餐廳)

Address: G/F, 3 Lan Fong Road, Causeway Bay (銅鑼灣蘭芳道3號地下)

I find that good Phở, or Vietnamese soup noodle, is extremely hard to find in Hong Kong. I’ve tried many places, from high end to ‘hole in the wall’ joints –  I haven’t been impressed, until I found this place. I came across this place about five years ago when it was at another location. Since they moved (at a more convenient location for me) about six months ago, I’ve been frequenting this place almost every other week. This place offers not only Phở, but other Southeast Asian food items such as Pad Thai, and Hainan Chicken Rice. Service is typical of Hong Kong operation – fast and efficient (at peak times, they push you out the door to turn the table for the next guest). Needless to say, I would still go back for a bowl of hot Phở any day, especially when the weather is chilly.

Spot 2Fleur de Sel 

Address: Shop 2J, Po Foo Building, Foo Ming Street, Causeway Bay (銅鑼灣富明街1號寶富大樓2樓J室)

I came across this place just by simply looking up! Residential buildings in popular commercial areas in Hong Kong are often occupied by retail or restaurants. It’s one way for independent shops to make it financially feasible for their existence (rents are typically much cheaper than ground floor storefronts). I was wondering in Causeway Bay, and looked up to admire the blue sunny sky on a Saturday afternoon – it was after days of cloudy weather, then I saw this European looking balcony and intrigued me to head to the second floor of that building. This cozy French themed venue only serves crepes, savory and sweet. From their chefs to their ingredients, it’s all imported from France – yes, even the chef! Every time I go back, the food is consistently fresh and tasty. Although their management of reservations needs more work (making a booking doesn’t mean you’ll your table is secured), their staff is friendly and caring. The staff once offered me a cup of honey with hot water after seeing (and probably hearing) me cough nonstop because of a sinus infection I had. I don’t go to any other crepe places except this one!

Spot 3i Creameria Dolce Giapponese 

Address: Various locations in Hong Kong
I became obsessed with this green tea themed dessert outlet during this past summer. The first shop started in Fashion Walk in Causeway Bay; a small standing room only locale, but within a span of a couple of months, three more shops opened, two in Causeway Bay (Sogo and World Trade Center), and one in Tsim Sha Tsui (Harbour City). The recipe to their success is simple – to have few but high quality ingredients, in their case, it’s primarily green tea soft serve, vanilla soft serve, red bean, mochi, fresh chestnut, fresh melon and grapes (both imported from Japan). Make it simple and make it good! Their green tea soft serve has a rich tea flavor, yet not bitter at all – one of the best I’ve had – definitely quality similar to ones you find in Japan! The combinations concocted by them is simply to die for!

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Taipei – toast a mile high…with a touch of bling

Taipei is known for street foods and snacks, but I came across a cafe that serves unique toasts – honey toast. When I think of toast, I think of the usual food item served at breakfast – thinly sliced pieces served with butter and jam.

At Dazzling Cafe, their version of toast isn’t for breakfast, but as a dessert or afternoon snack. Plus, the toast is so thick, you need help from just to correctly dismantle the concoction and a pair of tongs to serve. There’s a variety of flavors to choose from, ranging from chocolate to mango, but I decided on berries – strawberries, blueberries toped with raspberry ice cream and whipped cream on danish toast. Check this out!

Super High Toast

Super High Danish Toast with berries, whipped cream and raspberry ice cream

The staff first separates the berries and ice cream before evenly spreading the whipped cream onto the toast. The toast is then cut into individual sticks so that it can be further cut into bit-sized pieces to devour with the berries and ice cream together.

The cafe also serves savory dishes, also good, but ordering the toast is a must! For the first time, I tried their seafood pasta and truffle french fries.  The french fries had very strong taste and smell of truffle oil while the seafood pasta had strong flavors of tomatoes, olive oil and the seafood was fresh.

As you enter any of the seven outlets in Taiwan (four in Taipei, the rest in Taichung, Tainan, Hsinchu), an aura of elegance coupled with bling is exemplified. Decorations at all of the outlets are different. I was told that the owner of the outlets once started off selling jewelry, loves jewelry, then in 2010, opened up their first honey toast cafe and of course incorporating ‘bling bling’ into the theme. In addition, Hello Kitty is their mascot. Several merchandizes are exclusively sold in the cafes. A must go for Hello Kitty lovers.

A small tip. Lines at most of their outlets are very long and no reservations are allowed. I’ve waited for more than one hour to be seated. I have since found an outlet in Taipei Breeze Center (微風廣場) to be to lesser frequented outlet – Dazzling Cafe Deluxe.

For a complete list of dazzling cafe outlets, click here.