Travel Series: Eating our way through Japan, Part 1

Day 1. Osaka the kitchen of the country.

A guest post series by Alberto Alvarez.

I always thought of Japan as a very expensive and exquisite country where trains cost a fortune, people squeezed into huge skyscrapers with no space to even breathe and good food was hard to find for anything less than 50 bucks per day.

Oh boy was I wrong.

We arrived in Osaka very hungry after spending the previous day in the sky eating airplane food (not bad Aeroflot!) and drinking horrible coffee.

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Aeroflot served some surprisingly tasty food during the 11h flight!

Since this was our first ever visit to the country and despite having rented an apartment on Airbnb, where we could have easily cooked dinner ourselves, we decided to hit the road and give our tastebuds a wild ride on the amazing Japanese cuisine.

Besides, it has been said that the people of Osaka spend more on food than on anything else, and the term “kuidaore” (“eat until you drop”) is used to describe the food culture in the city so we had to check it out!

Before reaching our destination, we grabbed some Onigiri (rice balls) on a few different street stalls that will later become our staple food in our Japanese diet. These things cost only 100 yen (50p!) and they are rice balls cooked to perfection filled with different types of fish or meat and covered in seaweed.

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They have a 3-step opening procedure that we never manage to get quite right. We just ripped it open and made a mess of it! Tasty nonetheless.

Being fitness minded as I am, I know the importance of good quality protein and I always find myself trying to balance my restaurant choices between taste and nutrition so this first night we headed to a Japanese steakhouse called “Steak and Hamburg Takeru” in Nishi-nakajima.

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Photo credit: TripAdvisor. I forgot to take a snap of the place!

Steak and Hamburg Takeru Nishi-nakajima (4–5–27 Nishinakajima, Yodogawa-ku, Osaka)

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Huge steak pictures? All-you-can-eat rice, soup and salad? We were sold!

We later discovered that this is a chain restaurant (nothing wrong with that!) that has 4 other establishments in Osaka but the quality of the food and their service was not compromised by this at all.

There were a few tables full of people and the atmosphere was amazing.

It was definitely quiet and “serious” for European standards but you could feel the smiles and good vibes of everyone in the place. Quietness, happiness and safety is definitely a luxury that I miss in my home country (Spain) where restaurants become the chosen place for complaining and shouting. Not cool.

Back to Japan and our food!

Given that it was already quite late, we didn’t have the time to explore all of the menu options but definitely wanted to get something substantial.

 

We went with the almighty “meat sharer” which brought pounds and pounds of chicken, pork and beef to our table along with all the rice and salad in the world.

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The meat was cooked to perfection and had an amazing flavor, these guys know their stuff! After what seemed like our 40th plate of rice and meat we called it a day, paid around 10 bucks each (!) and decided to grab an ice cream on the way home.

One fine thing about Japan is the number of 24/7 convenience stores that exist and offer good food all day long for almost nothing. We went in and spent a good amount of time entertaining ourselves with all of the choices available.

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This. If you visit Japan, step into one of these “Family Marts” and grab one of the many ice creams available. They are insanely good!

Day 1 was over and I was already in love with this country.

Stay tuned for part 2, more Osaka and lots of street food! 

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