Thursday, March 8, 2012

Best ultimate 48 hours in Osaka

No way!

Yup! 48 hours is just not enough to do Osaka! I thought that there's not much to do in osaka.. how wrong I was! I enjoyed osaka so much that I want to go back again right now!

octopus on the loose in dotonbori
blow fish galore in  dotonbori
So much to see and eat, so little time! If you are planning to visit osaka, you need to dedicate at least 3 full days, if not more, to properly soak in the sights and eats. 2 days is just not enough, remember that!

It really is KUIDAORE in osaka! Eat till you drop! So much to eat, just not enough stomach space for it! And fatty hubby and I really stuffed ourselves silly as we wanted to eat as much of everything as we can (^^)

on dotonbori looking at ebisubashi-suji
on dotonbori looking at shinsaibashi-suji
We were lucky to choose a swanky boutique hotel in the very vibrant and exciting Dotonbori area, the Hotel Vista Grande. It's location is absolutely perfect! Right smack in the thick of action, that means on Dotonbori in Namba (Dotonbori) and Shinsaibashi. And only 10 minutes from Nankai Namba (covered walkways on Ebisu-bashi) and to Kuromon market (we timed this). We couldn't have picked a better hotel! Totally recommended, seriously.

Our late and dramatic arrival at 1am due to plane delay, forced us to spend a bomb of 18,000 Yen/RM720, on taxi from the airport. Luckily, we managed to share the cost with another couple headed for the same hotel. On hindsight, I'm glad we brought more money than we intended to spend, or we'd be forced to sleep at the airport.. or maybe we should have? 9000 yen is a lot of money! That's 10 bowls of ramen!

best ramen at Ichiran

Anyways, we headed to Ichiran for ramen after checking-in. It's really just round the corner and I must say it's the best ramen in osaka! The ramen and soup was PERFECT! Look out for a bright red square cloth-like signboard facing the dotonbori river. It's just 2 doors away from the brightly lit corner takoyaki shop! The takoyaki there is fantastic too! 8 pieces of takoyaki topped with shoyu and mayo at 500 yen. Even though it's the only one we had, I still say it's the best (^^). Sorry, no pictures.. we ate up all before I remembered to take any (^^||).

cute guy making takoyaki
Day 1 ~ Sumiyoshi-taisha. To get there, we went on the Nankai Namba train, and paid 200 Yen. From Sumiyoshi taisha station, it's just a 2-minute walk to the temple. You'll see some nice shinto shrines there. We were lucky to witness a wedding being held there that day. Also check out the flower shop in the train station and the Sumiyoshi park next to the station. I love it here!

peaceful and tranquil sumiyoshi park
Then it was back to namba for a late lunch at Jiyuken. We had their famous curry rice with raw egg. I didn't like it that much, but fatty hubby did. I did however, enjoyed the beef katsu with curry and white rice. The set of curry rice with beef katsu cost 1350 yen.

the famous curry rice

Next we headed for Kuromon Market. At 3pm, I expected most shops to be on the verge of closing, but they were still going strong (?!). I had a great time there. Lots to look-see and EAT! We stuffed ourselves with sugar-free soy bean drink, azuki dorayaki, doughnut, japanese cheesecake and sweet sweet strawberries (^^). But best of all, we found an out-of-this-world tuna toro sashimi in the market! It was so so sublime that I forgot to take a picture of it! We went back for more the next day but found the shop closed. So be warned, most shops in kuromon are closed on Sundays.

best-ever sugar-less soy bean drink - thick 'n creamy
azuki dorayaki

After all the food, we went back to the hotel and took a 3 hour nap, and woke up to feast on kushikatsu at Daruma on Dotonbori. It's right opposite Kinryu ramen and Shitenno ramen, you can't miss it. At peak hour, you'll see a line outside the shop. I love these fried stuff on skewers, which you dip into the sauce (no double dipping here!). Each kushikatsu order comes with a complimentary serving of cabbage. Yums! A skewer is around 120 yen.

outstanding kushikatsu!
Despite a full tummy, fatty hubby insisted we check out Kinryu (you can't miss the dragon signboard!). This really is the poor man's ramen. At 600 yen, it is the cheapest ramen in town. And you can stuff yourself silly with complimentary all-you-can-eat kimchi, garlic, chives and white rice! Ramen was ok, but the soup was too salty for me. Maybe it's salty, so that you can have it with rice later (?)

a "full"-filling meal
Day 2 ~ Kuromon market again. Found most shops closed. Bought sushi rice with karaage (fried chicken) for breakfast.. Fatty hubby's wild about karaage now.

karaage and rice - just the way we like it 
Then we headed towards the underground Namba Walk, which is adjacent to nankai namba station. There's quite a lot of shops selling "aunty" clothes there.. well, plenty for the young too (^^).

On Sundays and holidays, the unlimited day pass for the subways and buses is only 600 yen. So we went to namba subway station (midosuji line),bought the card and headed to Osaka Castle. It was raining when we got there (><). And since we didn't have an umbrella, we ended up at the Osaka Museum of History. It's ok, but I don't recommend it because there's no explanation in English. So, it's just another mediocre look-see. We took pictures of Osaka castle from the museum. No chance to visit the castle park (><). We did however, enjoy a really nice latte at Seattle Coffee before heading back to Shinsaibashi (^^).

The shinsaibashi subway station is right under Daimaru. And so we ended up at daimaru food market for more yummies. I remember that japanese food markets used to offer lots of food samples. Not anymore. Out of the many food shops in daimaru, I only noticed 2 or 3 shops that gave out samples. A cost cutting measure, you think??? Anyways, we bought original castella or kasutera cake from Ginsu, 525 yen.. And we had the most AWESOME deep fried oyster(-katsu) from the food mart. They were huge and oh-so succulent, and left us wanting more! Take note that there is no place to sit and eat whatever you bought from the food mart. Guess the japanese must be really disciplined and too polite to eat in public, unlike us hungry, greedy and impatient pigs! Well, we couldn't wait and had the oysters right outside daimaru's entrance on shinsaibashi-suji! (^^)

tall, tall angel cakes
pretty-ness in a row 
the awesome-mest oyster katsu ever!!!
Right across daimaru, on Shinsaibashi-suji is Fuku Sushi. They sell batera sushi - sushi in a box. We stopped by and ordered a box of sushi to take away, 1000 yen. Sushi's really nice. The rice was not vinegar-y like the ones you get here. In fact, all the sushi rice we had in osaka doesn't reek of vinegar at all! And the japanese omelette, tamagoyaki, is just a touch sweet, tastes really nice and just right.. unlike the eerily-sweet ones we have over here.

The walk on shinsaibashi-suji heading towards ebisubashi-suji (namba), was really nice. Lots of young people, lots of shops and lots of energy.. very vibrant and "happening". Alas, we didn't have the much time to browse through the shops (><). Just window-shopped and cuci mata.. would have been nice to be able to spend more time at shinsaibashi-suji.

vintage hokkyusei amidst modernization
Anyways, we had a leisurely walk down shinsaibashi-suji, as we headed for a late lunch (or early dinner) at 5pm at Hokkyusei for omu rice. This is a must visit! It's located on the next road (north) from Dotonbori Hotel, also near Cross Hotel. The omelette cupping the fried rice was done so well that while the outer skin was well done, the inside was still soft and a touch-runny. PERFECTION! The fried rice, whether with chicken or pork, was awesome too. Fatty had the omu rice (pork) set that came with beef stew, deep fried shrimps, salad and an Asahi beer, 1350 yen. My simple omu rice (chicken) cost 690 yen. We had a most amazing meal at Hokkyusei! love! love! love! I noticed that there's an outlet at Takashimaya food mart too. Go there if you have no time to get to the original outlet.

delicious omu-rice

ooey-goeey creamy omelette with fragrant fried rice
Since we had the unlimited pass, we went to Umeda for more sightseeing. Lots of eateries and shops underground. We didn't bother to go out.. err, up.. rainy day. We just looked around, and bought an interesting cheesecake (680 yen) from Pablo, one of the many outlets underground. It supposedly has a gooey, creamy centre, but you can choose the firmness you want. We took the gooey one. It held up quite well all the way back home.. a little battered but still good (^^). The cream cheese was not too sweet, and nicely gooey. The pastry which I thought was biscuity, turned out to be puff-pastry. Overall, very nice - think super-gooey tong kee egg tart.

wonder if I can replicate this at home?
Back in namba.. we had our last ramen at Shitenno's on dotonbori. We tried the salt based soup instead of the shoyu one. Soup was really interesting. Can't compare with Ichiran's 'cos we had the shoyu based one there. Still this is a very good ramen and soup joint. Shio ramen for 690 yen. Wish we had the time to check out Hakata Ippudo, near Fraser Suites (><). Maybe next time..

If you noticed, we did not have time to check out any udon joints, okonomiyaki, yakitori, or bbq joints. Due to the limited time that we have, we had to be really picky about the things that we really wanted to eat, instead of eating everything available.. We may be pigs, but there's really a limit as to what we can eat (^^) in such a short time! But we really KUIDAORE as much as we could!

I love OSAKA! Fatty hubby loves Osaka too! Till next time! KUIDAORE!!!


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