Haute Food In Osaka
Haute Food In Osaka Reviews
Haute Food In Osaka Nov 29, 2011
Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki!
O ko no mi ya ki! Quite a tongue twister for me at first but I got used to speaking it straight and fast after the first bite. And, ta ko ya ki! That’s easier to pronounce. Okonomiyaki/ takoyaki if nobody disagrees with me, is the quintessential food in Osaka. It is written in almost all travel journals and food reviews that these casual konamon(flour based)food are a must try when in Osaka, and anyone’s visit will be incomplete if one does not take a bite of these popular and talked about Osaka food. I took note of this information prior to my Kansai trip and I’ve placed okonomiyaki and takoyaki food hunt to be the top food-related agenda during my Osaka trip.
Yaki basically means fried or grilled. Well, I’d easily go for fried or grilled but just make sure it’s yaki(fried) and not yucky! Yucky like the Manila version of takoyaki that they call samurai balls. Samurai what??? My taste buds screamed horribly in disagreement when I first tried this food at SM Megamall back in those days when I was working at a japanese firm in Ortigas Center. Now, there are some newer versions of takoyaki around Manila that tastes better than samurai balls. I've tried the takoyaki at Tonteiyaki something- I forgot the real name; at Cash & Carry- Makati. It is still quasi-takoyaki when compared to the original Osaka version,and are smaller in size, but at least they taste way better than those samurai balls, and even taste closer to the real thing.I’ve eaten in that small food stall at Cash&Carry more than a few times already, just to soothe my craving for the real Osaka takoyaki.
At Osaka, I stayed at Nipponbashi, very close to the glitzy Dotonbori area, where restaurants and street food stalls are all over the place. Each time I get out of the ryokan(inn), I immediately smell takoyaki and okonomiyaki in the air. My lack of motivation to initially try takoyaki stems from my bad experience with samurai balls. I was intent on trying okonomiyaki first, because I never tried and seen okonomiyaki in the menu of all the Jappy restos that I’d been to around Asia. At Nipponbashi, I ended up confused where to eat my okonomiyaki as there were lots of similar okonomiyaki restaurants and stalls to choose from. I didn’t take note of the name of the restaurant I went to. I could only remember it was near Amerikamura.
The waiter cooked the okonomiyaki right before my eyes on a griddle built on the table. The ingredients and manner of cooking were pretty basic- flour, water, eggs, chopped octopus, and cabbage mixed in a bowl, fried on both sides until brownish and when it was done, the waiter asked me to finish off by topping it with the sauces and condiments of my choice, pointing to the small containers arranged in a rectangular tray beside the table. These were okonomiyaki sauce, bonito fish flakes, aonori, the dried finely chopped green stuff I mistook for oregano, and Japanese mayo. I sprinkled a bit each of all the toppings there was on the tray and waited till the sauces and toppings were absorbed while the okonomiyaki sizzled down to its ready-to-bite warmth. I was staring at the food in front of me and tried to figure if it was some sort of an omelet/omelette, pizza, or pancake. I'd know when I start eating it. First bite was good! Second bite, very good! Third bite, very very good! It was unique! I never tasted anything like that before…… but I prefer takoyaki!
Fried octopus(tako) balls. My friends from Tokyo and I met that Sunday afternoon, after I came back to Osaka from Kyoto. We all agreed on having some takoyaki for lunch so we all met at the takoyaki stalls at Dotonbori. We joined the long queue of locals waiting for their takoyaki-to-go. I was convinced that takoyaki is a very popular food among locals as I saw lots of folks crowding the takoyaki vendors area.
From the queue, I could see the cook/vendor doing the same mixing of flour, chopped onion, ginger, octopus bits, etc. in a bowl and pouring the mixture into greased pre heated grill pans with many shallow cups. The cups were filled with the mixture and turned over several times with a pick until they were round and golden brown. The cook removed the fried balls from the pan and placed them into small serving paper plates, put sauce and mayonnaise, sprinkled bonito flakes and aonori on top, and the takoyaki was ready to go! I can’t wait to sink my teeth into the first octopussy ball on my plate but I needed to wait for a few seconds more to cool down the hot stuff or I’d end up scalding my taste buds and suffer from ageusia(inability to detect taste) for the rest of my life. Soon as I thought my takoyaki was ready to be consumed, I took my eager initial small bite. It was still damn hot! I had to do an instant crazy short,rapid, multiple inhale/exhale breathing, panting like a rabid dog to cool the stuff inside my mouth. After waiting and making sure that the rest of the octopussy balls were bite-friendly, I finally started my best ever yummy,heavenly, delicious Kansai takoyaki meal. And the rest was bon appetit history!
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