Japan 14. – Osaka

First of all i have to say; all my respect for my beautiful ‘new/old’ friend Kiyoe. With a little baby and a bigger boy she insisted to come with me and show me around in Osaka to visit everything i wanted to see. So because of this i dont really have a backpacker point of view from this city. I was so greatful to her being my guide nomatter how tired she was – but didnt want to abandon me for a second. So i missed to visit the Universal Studios and to go up to the Umeda Sky Building which has a floating garden observatory on the very top. We just could not fit in the plan (another great reason to go again).

Another thing u just can not miss in Osaka (nowhere in JP) is the market ‘again’. Was probably the biggest i ve seen sooo far (and because of my disappointment in Tokyo i dont think i saw anything more than this here). Kuromon Ichiba is a century old 600 meter long market. Same rules – lots to try – only cash – dont walk and eat. U can find everything here.

After we planned our ‘being silly tourist day’ with the Castle Park – Osaka-jo – in the middle of the town. Cherry Blossom was blooming like crazy – plus Osaka is full of ‘hanami’ spots so it was just supergorgeous around the castle (and crowded because the mass tourism).

footnote: hanami is a place where locals gather together under the sakura trees in parks drinking and chatting, having picnic and great time.

We didnt enter the main castle building (600Yen). Was just gorgeous from outside standing still on its hill surrounded by bonsai style pine trees and cherry blossoms.

Kiyoe organised another workshop for us. It was something pretty weird – for me at least. Let me explain… in Japan ‘food samples’ are quite a big thing. It is like a 3D outside menu of a restaurant (made out from plastic) – so the tourist can see the plates before entering and decide if they like the look of the food. No need to decide by name (as very few visitors speak japanese and understand the gastronomic terms in the same time lol). If they do like it they enter the place and ask for the exact plate what they saw outside. Or dislike and just walk away. So this is ‘food sample’: a piece of plastic basically (a bowl or a plate to be exact).

And this is still a thing everywhere in Japan – the restaurants have a bright window on the side with these weird colorful bowls of plastic showing their ‘duck noodles’, ‘pork tonkatsu ramen’ or ‘sashimi board’. So obviously as better the food sample work as more expensive. And now u can find shops all over the big cities to find and buy these mini food samples – as fridge magnet, key holder, pencil or anything u can imagine. It really became an art. Art of precision.

So this is the workshop Kiyoe found for us – hoping that his little boy will enjoy also – making some food samples! Well – well. Well. I paid around 2100yen i think – was much more expensive than the ‘wagashi’ sweet workshop and to be fair it didnt give anything really. First of all the theme for that occasion was ‘sushi’, so we could pick 2 types of nigiri we wanted to make (only 6 to choose from). I picked the tuna and the prawn one (for some reason the prawn one did cost more ?), Kiyoe went for the egg omlette and another white fish. At this point i thought it still can be good fun as i know my artist side enjoy creating things – but as soon as they gave us the ‘already made plastic ‘rice’ and ‘fish slices’… eeeeeeeeeh. Basically the only thing we did is to glue together the pieces and paint a bit. That was all. We didnt actually make up anything – so i was very disappointed. But. At least we tried – another experience and now i have a weird looking fridge magnet and key holder in the kitchen. LOL.

Dinnertime was very freakin excited BTW. The plan was to make TAKO-YAKI!!!! Doughy dumplings stuffed with octopus and grilled in a special-made moulds. Very popular street food – at that point i still havent tried it so i felt very very lucky that i can actually learn how to make them!!!

First of all u need a special mould – allmost like a muffin tray mould but the holes are round and it gets heat everywhere evenly (electric). After u can make the mix – like a pancake mix but obviously not. U can find trillions of tako-yaki recipes online – i just tell u a bit about it. Your liquid is dashi and eggs and the solid part is flour, baking powder, sugar and salt (u can find tako-yaki/okonomiyaki mix in asian stores). Kiyoe bought some cooked octopus and little sausages for her boy as he doesnt like fish or seafood (he had cheesy sausage tako-yakis, new dimension). Important to have all the garnish ready as while u are cooking the pancake balls u wont have time doing other stuff. So we had the octopus bits, chopped pickle ginger and spring onion, bonito flakes, dried seaweed, tako-yaki sauce (like very nice oyster sauce) and mayo.

I think we put some oil in the mould then fill up the holes full with the mix and arrange your octopus pieces (or sausages hehe) in the middle with the pickled ginger and onion. Give some time. As it cooks the mix will separate from the side of the mould so u can turned the balls easily. Up side down. We were using chopsticks. Obviously. It will gonna be ready very quick after this – also u dont want to dry the balls out, its quite nice (and HOT!) when its soft in the middle. Done. Balls out, serve it with dried seaweed, bonito flakes, mayo and taco-yaki sauce. F*CKING DELICIOUS. I ate myself sick. LOL.

Open up your mouth…!

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