Osaka: If You Like To Eat...
There’s something about Osaka that feels more down-to-earth, relaxed, and grungy compared to its famous and buttoned-up neighbor, Tokyo. Don’t get me wrong. I love Tokyo but it’s a completely different energy. Somehow, people in Tokyo might dress very casual but they look so put together that it seems effortless. It almost reminds me of people in LA - even in workout clothes, people look so put together. Granted, some are wearing makeup on their hikes, but still.
Osaka is the land of constant eating. Not kidding. With all the street vendors serving only small bites, you are meant to buy an appetizer and move on to the next vendor. One of my absolute favorites is Takoyaki, a sphere-shaped snack made of wheat-flour based batter filled with diced octopus, scallions, ginger, and tempura crunchies. You can choose between a brown sweet and salty sauce with some mayo and scallions (the classic), or sometimes, they offer a soy-sauce option. I had it the first time in Osaka with my mother 5 years ago and I was hooked. When I was living in NYC, I made the error of ordering some in the Lower East Side and I was so incredibly disappointed. I vowed to never order it again until I returned to Osaka. We were in Osaka for 3 days and I ate 25 little spherical delights. You typically receive an order of 6 or 8 at a time so I was definitely aggressive. Mission Accomplished.
When visiting Osaka, the most touristy but still fun area is Dotonbori with the iconic, bright lights and signs. However, you must also visit the neighborhood of Umeda. Here you will find the best yakiniku, the best roll cake, and a dizzying food hall that will leave you salivating. Since Hokkaido, Avery fell in love with Japan’s roll cakes, a soft yellow cake filled with light, airy cream. I found a bakery in Umeda that claimed they had the best roll cake with Hokkaido cream. It really was the best.
On the same floor, there was one of the most amazing food halls I’ve experienced in Japan. Yes, there are plenty of food halls in Japan but this was one modern, clean, not overwhelming packed, and most importantly, not expensive. It had a great variety of sushi, Chinese food, kimchi, tempura, yakitori, and SALADS. I can’t tell you how much we missed vegetables (are we so obviously from California?). We weren’t planning on buying anything here but after walking around, we decided we were going to buy takeout to eat for dinner. MORE EATING! Hooray!
Kuromon Market is also another must-visit: the best place to have delicious melt-in-your-mouth sushi, grilled seafood, and kobe beef on a stick. The sushi is incredibly delicious - almost equally as good as the Washo Fish Market in Hokkaido. If you know Avery, he is probably meat’s #1 fan. We experienced some mediocre meat earlier in the afternoon and he really need to satiate his craving. As an investor and risk assessor, he decided to buy 5 pieces of kobe beef for $30. To be honest, I was getting a bit jealous thinking he was going to leave me for Kobe Beef. Relationship goals: find a man that can look at you the way he looks at Kobe beef. But hey, to each’s own. Some will pay a lot for meat. Some will pay a lot for shoes. Or some will pay a lot for a Jay-Z concert (guilty). Whatever floats yo boat, honey. I even tried a baby octopus with a sweet, soy-sauced seasoning and a quail egg inside. It was actually really good and looked pretty gnarly too.
You might notice that I’ve only been talking about food. That’s pretty much the main thing to do in Osaka. It’s not much of a sightseeing city in my opinion, but if you’re interested in a palace and a museum, they have it here. If you’re more interested in sightseeing, then I would advise to keep your Osaka visit short and do a day trip to NARA!!!
It was actually my first time in Nara - crazy since it’s a very popular city to visit when you’re in Japan. And I have to admit, I fell in love so hard. I think everyone has seen pictures but when you are face-to-face with these creatures, they are really adorable. My favorites were the babies and the really old ones laying down all the time. I fed these guys the most with the cookies and acorns you can buy around the park.
In Nara, there is also one of the world’s largest wooden buildings holding a massive, bronze Buddha inside. This structure was incredibly impressive and on top of that, we were so blessed to have such beautiful weather. I can’t believe this was my first time here., It was a Saturday so yes, there were a lot of people. Not ideal in my opinionbut we had no choice since the weather was not promising the rest of the time we were in Osaka. For a 45 minute train ride, it’s definitely worth the trip. Plus, it works up a great appetite for your return back to Dotonbori for some more Takoyaki.
When in Osaka, I chanted TA-KO-YA-KI a little too often. I debated naming our next dog, Tako - a play on words with both of our favorite foods. I feel like it works better if he’s one of those ugly, cute dogs with scraggly hair. I think it could work. Bao, the golden retriever, and Tako, the ugly, cute creature. Hmm, both food names. Not a coincidence. We just really like food, okay?
I should probably book my Soul Cycle class now. Meh, after this Twix.