Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Travel | Japan, Osaka: Waffles and Crabs and Ichiran Ramen



Our first meal in Osaka happened to be at the airport. This was a result of forgetting to order meals on our flight and surviving off only toasties and cup noodles for the 8 or so hours. Luckily for us, the airport had a pretty impressive selection of food outlets so we had quite a satisfying udon and unagi meal, although we gobbled everything up before I even remembered to bring out my camera.

Menyagaten

So by the time we reached the city, we weren't terrible hungry and only after a light-ish meal so we ended up at this small and cozy ramen restaurant for dinner. 

Maze Soba (700yen)

The menu was in Japanese but thankfully it had plenty of pictures so it made it quite easy to order. I had absolutely no idea what the maze soba was, but seemed like a good option seeing as it was posted all over the store on posters and signs.

It's an impressive bowl of thick noodles with a soy-like sauce mixed in, a piece of tender chashu pork and a mountain of toppings. Of which I'm pretty sure included a quite a bit of pig fat. And a generous serve of minced garlic to give you hours of garlic breath.

But if you cast your mind away from how unhealthy it may be and how bad your breath will smell afterwards, mix it all together and you have yourself a very very tasty bowl of noodles. Perhaps a little on the salty side for my tastes, but still very tasty indeed.

Gachi Shouyu Ramen Kai (980yen)

And for the not so adventurous, they also do shoyu ramen. We were quite impressed with the soup base, as the shoyu ramen we've tried in Sydney are quite plain in flavour- this one was very moreish.

Gyoza (280yen)

And we couldn't go past the gyoza, at only 280yen for 6 pieces! Very delicate dumplings with a crispy bottom and a delicious filling- we would have ordered a serve each if not for the fact that we were feeling quite full!

Maison de Gigi


It didn't take us long to discover that three meals a day was not going to do it for us in Japan, as there's food everywhere. A short walk down the Shinsaibashi shopping strip, and we find ourselves lured into this cafe from the display of waffles out the front.

Hazelnut Latte (630yen)

The three storey cafe sells mainly waffles but they also do some pancakes and crepes. You can buy takeaway waffles for roughly 150yen or you can opt to dine in, but there is a policy of ordering a minimum of one item per diner. 

The coffees look like coffee machine ones, with foamy froth and lack of coffee art. Whether or not it's machine or barista made, we couldn't figure out, but the coffee was surprisingly pleasant, especially with the hazelnut aroma. 

Liege Waffles (set, 980yen)

There's a huge cabinet of the cute liege waffles at the front of the store and they do them in four different flavours. These are pre-made however, so they're of the more bready texture.

Custard and Banana Waffles (780yen)

If you dine in, you also have the option of ordering the freshly made waffles which are definitely the better option- these come hot and are softer and fluffier than the liege variety. We love the presentation of the waffles, with quenelles of cream and ice cream, custard, bananas and chocolate sauce piled beautifully.

Dotonbori

By the time we reached Dotonbori, we had an hour to spare before lunch so we hit the streets and tried some of the street food. 


There was plenty of takoyaki, but none quite as noticeable as the Dotonbori Kukuru Konamon-Museum which has a massive takoyaki holding octupus. We didn't have time to visit the museum, although we did have enough time to join the long line for some takoyaki.


Watching takoyaki being made is like an attraction in itself- there's something mesmerising about the way the chefs turn the little balls at lightning speed. The end result are piping hot takoyaki balls which are incredibly soft inside- quite unlike any takoyaki I've ever had elsewhere.


We also tried this takoyaki place further down the street which was a little less busy both out of curiosity and because we can't have enough takoyaki.


They looked a little different, with less round balls and a more generous sprinkle of bonito.....but tasted pretty similar to the other ones!


There's also a cute melonpan food truck towards the end of the street which claims to be the "second delicious melonpan ice cream in the world". Not sure where they got that from, but I wonder where I'd find the one ranked number one?


The melon pan are heated and the slab of ice cream is sandwiched between the bun when you order. This makes for a great combination of warm bun and cold ice cream with a particularly crunchy outer layer. If this is only second best, now I'm really curious as to how good is the best?


Amongst the many food vendors on the street was this scallop store which only sold the one thing- grilled scallops.

Grilled Scallops (500yen)

They tasted even better than they looked- really fresh and sweet. And they were massive! 


Kani Doraku


And of course, we couldn't visit Osaka without trying out the famous Kani Doraku- the main store of the chain. You can book online in advance but we turned up before lunch to get a ticket from the front, which designates you a time to come back when a table will be ready so that you don't have to stand around waiting. 

Peach Sake Drink

We were advised by a friend to visit during lunch hours, as their lunch sets are much cheaper than their dinner. For a 9 course crab feast, their lunch sets are great value- we picked the Ruri set for 4320yen per person and the Moegi set for 3780yen to try a bit of everything.

Ordering is via their iPad system which is quite simple to use- tap your selection and you're ready to go!

Boiled crab

All the required utensils are provided for removing the crab meat from the shells- I love how the section of shell is removed so all that you need to do is give it a bit of a scrape to remove all the meat. No nutcracker required!

The boiled crab is simple yet tasty- fresh crab meat is nice and sweet in itself, and although dipping sauce is provided, I prefer eating it without.

Raw crab tsukuri

We're not completely sure we'd like the raw crab, as we're not huge fans of raw anything other than salmon. Luckily it's not as chewy or sticky as we'd thought, and rather sweet, although I don't think we're completely sold.


The claypot rice with crab is the last course, however, it's brought to the table early to heat up and cook.

Grilled crab

The grilled crab tastes quite similar to the boiled version, just a little drier.

Crab tempura

What's not to love about crab tempura? The pairing with okra tempura is rather odd, and though we're not huge fans we're happy to find that it's not very slimy.

Crab gratin

The crab gratin comes in the cutest mini claypot with a crab painting on the lid. And a cute spoon too!


All cuteness aside, it's an amazing dish, with crab meat blanketed in creamy cheese sauce.

Streamed egg custard with crab


Continuing on with the cute theme are these super smooth and silky steamed egg custards- a sort of Chawanmushi but with a crab topping instead of filling. 

Steamed crabmeat dumpling made with Yuba 

The crabmeat dumplings are bite-sized dumplings made with a delicate tofu skin wrapper, each beautifully presented in its own little bowl. 

Japanese soup

We can't seem to figure out what the little colourful balls are- they're a little like fish balls but not quite. Nevertheless the miso soup is quite enjoyable.

Claypot rice with crab

By the time we'd finished all the other courses, the claypot rices were ready. There's a fragrant smell coming from the claypot when you open the lid, but unfortunately, the crab leg in the rice doesn't impart as much flavour into the rice as we'd expected

Ice cream with green tea sauce

And onto arguably my favourite course of the meal- ice cream! The waitress comes with perfectly round scoops of vanilla ice cream, and then whips up the matcha at the table before pouring it onto the ice cream. It's the perfect ratio of matcha to ice cream to balance the bitterness of the green tea to the sweetness of the vanilla.

Teppan Jinja

When dinner comes rolling around, we find ourselves on Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street looking for food. We're lured into teppan jinja by the sight of the yakitori grilling and the friendly chef waving at us.

Beef, Chicken, Stuffed lotus root and Scallop with Miso Sauce

There are seats by the bar downstairs where you can see the grilling in action, however it does make for a stuffy environment so we're taken upstairs to a private room. There's a little buzzer in the corner to signal waitstaff to come when you're ready to order. 

All items are priced per skewer and aren't too pricey so it allows us to have quite a variety of food. I'm a huge fan of the stuffed lotus root which are nice and crunchy and have the perfect amount of mince stuffing in each of the holes. The scallops aren't nearly as big as the ones we had in the afternoon at Dotonbori, however, they are sweeter and tastier with the thick miso based sauce on top. 

Asparagus Wrapped in Pork (250yen)

There's menu also ranks their top choices by popularity, with asparagus wrapped in pork ranked number 1 so we had to try this. And we're glad we did, though we'd rank the scallops higher than this one. The pork is cooked perfectly, without the asparagus being too soft or hard, accompanied by a light teriyaki-like sauce.

Prawn Toast (190yen)

The waiter recommends these prawn toasts which are mini bite-sized toasts. Whilst there isn't a whole lot of prawn on the toast, there's just enough to impart enough flavour to leave us wishing we had ordered more.

Ichiran Ramen

As delicious as the skewers were, it didn't take us long to figure out that it would take a ridiculous amount of skewers to fill us up so we decided after round two of skewers to find something a little more substantial to fill us up.


And so we ended up at the legendary Ichiran Ramen. 

We thought we'd beat the queues by coming late-ish at night, but we find that there's many more night owls than we'd though, with the queue starting from the entrance and snaking its way into the back of the store where the ordering machines were.

Calpis

Luckily for us, the store is much bigger than it appears, with 8 or so levels and separated into sections with individual booths or those with tables.

Tonkotsu ramen (790 yen )

Each ramen is customised so you choose exactly how you want it from noodle texture to the strength of the broth. We can't exactly remember how we ordered our one but it was perfect. The broth is so good it's addictive, with a strong pork flavour without being too salty or overwhelming. We're glad we ordered a kadaema to finish off the soup!
Menyagaten
2-7-28 Nishishinsaibashi Chuo-ku Osaka Osaka
大阪府 大阪市中央区 西心斎橋 2-7-28 萬壽福ビル

Maison de Gigi
 2−2−17 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo-ku, Osaka 〒542-0085 , Japan
〒542-0085 大阪市中央区心斎橋筋2-2-17
 http://maison-de-gigi.com 

Kani Doraku Dotombori Honten
〒542-0071 1-6-18, Dotombori, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
http://douraku.co.jp.e.at.hp.transer.com/kansai/honten/

Teppan Jinja Dotonbori
1-6-4 Dotombori Chuo-Ku | Dotonbori Erika Bldg. B1, Osaka 542-0077, Osaka Prefecture
〒542-0077中央区道頓堀1-6-4道頓堀エリカビルB1

Ichiran Dotonbori
〒542-0084 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Chuo Ward, Souemoncho, 7−18, 1F
〒542-0084中央区宗右衛門7-181F
http://www.ichiran.co.jp/english/html/kin_douton.html 

5 comments:

Navaneetham Krishnan said...

Wow, wow, wow! Indeed a food galore. Sure, ample street food. Have not been to Osaka but I was in Hokkaido last year and I tried some of these items as well. Nice but after 4 days, I couldn't wait to run back home for sambal belacan, roti canai and Hokkien mee.

Liz Berg said...

You've had a lot of adventures and glorious food since I last stopped by! Hope the fun continues!

Angie Schneider said...

Lots of amazing food! I love and miss those dumplings.

Summer said...

The custard and banana waffles has me drooling ♥

summerdaisy.net

Emma @ Bake Then Eat said...

I remember when I was first in Japan I really struggled to order anything to eat, being vegetarian. Thank heavens for the picture menus and plastic food in the windows!!! I lived off dessert for days until I cracked the very basic code. Sounds like you were in foodie heaven :D

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