Japan 2014 — Day 1: Osaka — Dotonbori

Oh Osaka, we were glad to see you. We’d caught a 6AM flight from Sydney to Cairns, without hav­ing eaten break­fast before­hand because we stu­pidly con­fused the Cairns and Gold Coast inter­na­tion­al air­ports and thought there’d be a Hungry Jacks dur­ing our trans­it. Turns out there wasn’t, and we had to sat­is­fy ourselves with one cafe — the only place selling hot food, and at extor­tion­ist prices. But we had an 8 hour flight ahead with no meals so we ate. Even so, 8 hours is a long time, so we couldn’t wait to stuff ourselves with Japanese food! And Osaka is a food haven!

It was past 7PM when we arrived at Osaka and shops close late (unlike 5PM in Australia), so we quickly dropped our bags at the hotel. This time we booked a hotel close to Dotonbori (above). This meant good food was just minutes away!

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I had my sights set on ramen. I’ve not had a good rela­tion­ship with ramen (my first exper­i­ence was Ajisen Ramen in Sydney, which has since closed down, and my second exper­i­ence in Kyoto did not help), but I was curi­ous about it after hav­ing enjoyed the ramen at Ippudo in Sydney.

We were fam­ished and in no mood to join any queue, so we settled on a decent look­ing ramen res­taur­ant: Golden Kyuemon.

Being in Dotonbori, and hence tour­ist cent­ral, its menu was in English, which made the trans­ition to everything being in Japanese more gentle.

I ordered the kur­enai soy sauce ramen. I made my pick for no oth­er reas­on than my pref­er­ence for soup in my ramen (or any noodles, really) to be as clear as pos­sible (none of that teeth coat­ing col­la­gen stuff!).

D ordered the gold soy sauce ramen. D, slightly more adven­tur­ous than me, went for the slightly cloud­i­er ver­sion. Each bowl came with a slice of pork, a soft-boiled egg, bam­boo shoots, and a whole heap­ing of spring onion (urgh!). I chose the thin noodles, while D chose the thick noodles (thin noodles were recom­men­ded for both soups but we wanted to see the dif­fer­ence…). Both were tasty, and war­ded off the naus­eat­ing hunger.

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For D, how­ever, ramen was just the first course! He loves his takoy­aki, and wait­ing until the next day to vis­it our tried and true favour­ite store in Osaka was just too long. So, we got 8 from the takoy­aki store on the 1st floor of the Konoman Museum for all things takoy­aki. From the signs out­side, it claims to be the ‘No. 1’ takoy­aki store in Dotonbori, so it seemed like a safe bet.

These takoy­aki were quite dis­ap­point­ing. It’s a good thing we already had a favour­ite store for takoy­aki because if this were the first time we tried takoy­aki, we’d weren’t keen to eat more. We’re used to our takoy­aki being slightly crispy on the out­side, and sear­ing hot with gen­er­ous bites of octopus inside. Unfortunately, these were mushy both out- and inside, and only warm. Perhaps being on Dotonbori, they make huge batches wait­ing for their cus­tom­ers, rather than to order.

By now it was past 10 and the time dif­fer­ence was catch­ing up to us (11PM is bed­time ad the 2 hour time dif­fer­ence meant our body clocks thought it was mid­night). But we had two more places in mind: a SevenBank ATM for cash and the supermarkets.

On the way out of Dotonbori, an apple and cin­na­mon tart caught our eyes at Ken’s Pastry. We love apple pies so we indulged. Too bad it was cold and cus­tardy, and not at all like a hot apple pie.

We even­tu­ally made it to the ATM, which is con­veni­ently situ­ated out­side our favour­ite super­mar­ket in Osaka (the Life super­mar­ket under­neath Hotel Monterey). We had anoth­er super­mar­ket in mind though. D and I like to explore super­mar­kets, even in Sydney, so a super­mar­ket over­seas is all sorts of fun. Since our last trip to Osaka, I’d dis­covered a MaxValu just five minutes walk south from the favour­ite Life super­mar­ket. So there we went only to dis­cov­er that Life was cheap­er gen­er­ally. That’s good news though as Life is more central.

Look at these giant octopus and scal­lops for sale!

Eating ice cream in the cold is the best, I tell you. The crunchy chocol­ate top and the wafer cov­er­ing the vanilla and chocol­ate ice cream tasted just as good as I remembered from three years ago com­ing back from Tokyo DisneySea.

Before call­ing it a night, we dropped by the Life super­mar­ket for a few cans of chu-hi to be con­sumed over the next few days. Here are peach and pear…

…and nashi pear and apple.