Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Lost in Japan: Osaka - Part 1

On the fourth day of my Japan Trip, we go to Osaka using Shinkansen.

Let me tell you a bit about Shinkansen. I used my JR Pass to go to Osaka using Shinkansen (more info HERE) We went to Tokyo Station and looking for the Shinkansen platform. If you are lost, just ask anybody and they will show you the direction. By using the JR Pass, all you need to do is show the pass at the maned gate and find the platform. Wait for the train to arrive and pick the empty seat on Car 1 - 5 (It is the unreserved seat car)

By using JR Pass, you can ride any Shinkansen except the Nozomi and Mizuho train. I don't really know the difference since I never ride on Nozomi trains but according to some websites/forum there is no difference about the condition of the car. The difference is the schedule, the Hikari train which we took has fewer schedule than Nozomi train and stops at more station than Nozomi train. In other words, using Nozomi train will get you to Osaka faster than using Hikari trains. Well, we are on vacation so 30 minutes difference is not a problem, so don't be a princess and use JR Pass.

Now, the shinkansen ride... It was AWESOME. Seriously man, it was wayyyyyyyyyyyy better than the Malaysia Airlines ride to Tokyo. The train was ultra clean, reclining seat (semi sleeping position), wide leg space, bigger chairs and better interior. Don't forget to buy food at the station to be eaten on the train, well my idea of killing time is munching on food, so u know.... :p

The trip from Tokyo to Osaka took approx 3 hours, not that long and the train ride was smooth. We arrived at the Shin-Osaka Station and went straight to the AirBnB apartment. The place I booked using AirBnB is a small apartment 3 minutes walking distance from the Shin Osaka Station. Perfect choice, saving us a lot of trouble dragging the luggage and not changing trains/subway. Recommended place if you are visiting Osaka. Minimarts are like 1 minutes away from the apartment, Midosuji Subway Line Shin Osaka Station 2 minutes walk, clean apartment, what else do you need.

After checking in to the apartment and get a rest (actualy resting approx 2 hours) we started exploring Osaka! Destination... Dotonbori!

From all the googling I did, Osaka doesn't have much to offer. Besides Dotonbori, there's Osaka Aquarium, Universal Studios and Osaka Castle, nothing much right? BUT let's try them all

To go to Dotonbori, I took a subway ride on the Midosuji Line and get off at Namba Station os Shinsaibashi Station. From there... Just get lost :) In every trip, I do a lot of planning. BUT when I arrive in a place, I purposely try to be lost. Somehow, being lost in a foreign place adds a certain thrill to the trip.

Shinsaibashi is a shopping area. Like many other shopping spot in Japan, the characteristic is many many stores in a no driving zone. It's like Pasar Baru in Jakarta, if you know what I mean. I didn't do much shopping so I didn't really pay much attention to the shops. Dotonbori is an area consists of many restaurants, some shops and clubs. It's the place where you can find the iconic Glico Man.

Some say that Osaka is the kitchen of Japan. It's THE place to enjoy Japan's best food. I can't say that I agree since IMO Tokyo's food is better than Osaka... Well maybe I didn't explore much in Osaka.

One of the place I tried is a famous Okonomiyaki place called Mizuno. Okonomiyaki is a pancake like dish, consist of cabbage, scallions, meat in a batter, pan fried and then topped with katsuiboshi (bonito flakes), mayo and tonkotsu sauce (kinda like bbq sauce but less tangy)

Waited for a bit over an hour (Japanese really loves to queue) then finally got to taste the damn thing. While waiting for the queue I wondered around the area and found this queue of takoyaki shop. Ordered this takoyaki with lots of scallion and soft boiled/raw egg. The takoyaki is very mushy, the scallion helps a lot with the raw egg. I found it kinda weird but kinda yummy too. It's gooey and creamy at the same time.

After the long wait, we finally got seats and ordered two dishes. One is called Yamaimoyaki, a yam based yaki dish with pork and scallop and the other is Mizunoyaki, a typical okonomiyaki with 6 toppings.

The dishes are prepared in front of us. First is the Yamaimoyaki. The cook kinda put everything on the hot pan and mixed all the ingredients together. When it is cooked, he put all the sauces and slide the "pancake" in front of us, provided a small iron spatula, just like the one he uses to cook the dish.

Tastewise... Yummmm. Well, it is not something you can find in Jakarta. It's authentic japanese and a yummy one. The proteins esp the scallops are cooked nicely. This dish looks like a mess, but addictive when eaten. The combination of the savory tonkotsu, the fragrant katsuiboshi, the creamy mayo and the gooey cake is yummmm.

Second dish is the Mizunoyaki, which in terms of taste kinda similar to the Yamaimo but softer and more creamy.

Continueing the journey that night, we tried another takoyaki which tastes even worse. I dunno, I think all the takoyaki are mushy, I like it a bit firm and dry, not crumply and gooey... From what I learned, that kind of consistency (mushy and gooey) is the best for takoyaki, so maybe it's just my personal preference. One thing that's funny is when I bought this takoyaki, the lady seller yells a lot, there was a yelling war with the adjacent takoyaki stall and the lady won! Damn, Japan is so overwhelming (and this comes from a trained Muara Karang residents with all the yelling medanese auntie)

Last, before we got back to the apartment, we stoppend by Doutor, a coffee shop chain which can easily found all over Tokyo and Osaka. The cake and coffee package cost around 400 JPY. The coffee is so light, tastes like milk with a drop of coffee (like any other coffee in Japan) The choux is YUMMMM!!! Ridiculously creamy but not too sweet, the puff was crispy and has the perfect bounciness, love love love!

On the way back, at the station I found this stall called Horai 551, I remembered seeing the stall in Tokyo too. I was curious and bought a pack of gyoza for around 200 JPY. Then, we bought some instant noodle at 7-11 and a packet of pork belly. Oh damn, seriously yummy!!!!

See you on the next post!!! Next is Osaka Aquarium...