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Osaka – Osusume

December 13, 2011 by Chelsea Slone

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After a little research on the city of Osaka I came to find out it is not only considered to be the kitchen of Japan, but also referred to by many as the most exciting food city in the world. I had my doubts about this, seeing as I would think of New York City or Paris to be the most exciting food cities in the world, but after a few short days in Osaka I began to see why people like Anthony Bourdain and Anton Ego (the Ratatouille movie food critic) have such high opinions of this food haven city of smiles.

Soon after arriving we found a city fit to burst with incredible places to eat, from the dazzling depichika basement food halls (the greatest food shows on earth), to the exuberant restaurant quarter of Dotonbori, to the top end places like Kahala. Osakans even have a word for their insatiable gluttony, they call it “kuidaore” literally meaning “eating until you bust”, and with a single trip to Hanshin’s depichika filled with food stalls from one end to another I completely understood why this Osakan word is so frequently used.

Tyler and I decided to spend what we called Sunday Funday trying a bite of everything on the list of Osakan favorites from the okonomiyaki (thick, filled pancakes, made with yam flour batter, seafood, pork and kimchi), tako yaki (octopus doughnuts), and kushikatsu (deep fried, breaded skewers each slathered in a sweet, savoury, mahogany-coloured sauce). When western countries decided to open up Japanese restaurants offering a menu consisting primarily of sushi rolls I wonder if they realized how much they were leaving us in the dark? However, there isn’t much I love more than fresh sushi and with the help of Anthony Bouurdain’s No Reservations show in Osaka we had the best sushi of our lives at Koyoshi. This tiny rice paper door hole in the wall restaurant had maybe 10 bar stools with no standing room in the least was surpassingly packed with locals, we were the only tourists to be found. The adorable couple has been serving up the best toro, eel, tuna, and fish I’ve never heard of since who knowns when, and they quickly prepare and serve each flavorful piece of sushi with a smile.

And before I conclude all this food talk I mustn’t forget to mention it was in Osaka that kaiten sushi and instant ramen noodles were both invented in the city in the same epochal year, 1958. However, the sushi conveyor belt inventor Yoshiaki Shiraishi lost most of his fortune after trying to replace the few staff he had with robots, Momofuku Ando, inventor of the instant noodles in his garden shed went on to become a national hero in Japan. He died in 2007, but the artsy Momofuku Ando Instant Raman Museum was built dedicated to his life and work. After learning about this well respected Japanese man, I now see where David Chang got the name of his Momofuku Noodle Bar restaurant I love to visit in New York City. Tyler and I had a great time visiting the museum and participating in designing our own cup of noodles in the museum’s personalized noodle cup factory.

Other than all of our foodie exploring in Osaka, we took a day trip to the mystical Mount Koya. Mount Koya is located in a 800m-high valley amid the eight peaks of the mountain. We decided to visit this beautiful mountain and its scenery to see Okunoin, the thousand lit lantern mausoleum of Kobo Dashi. The mile long path leading to the mausoleum is swathed in a respectful darkness of giant cypress trees forming a canopy overhead for all of the 200,000 monuments and tombs that lie aside the path. At the end of the pathway you cross over a bridge and enter into the lantern hall where around 21,000 donated lanterns are lit throughout and in the center a monk kneels respectfully chanting as the day passes by.

What a great few days spent discovering the food of Osaka and visiting the picturesque Mount Koya. I can’t believe were halfway through our trip to Japan, it has flown by. Next stop, Yudanaka.

See You There,


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