Friday, July 28, 2017

Revisited : Yummy Tofu and BBQ

We first visited this restaurant around November last year. Both me and hubby liked their homey style. It's a small mom and pop restaurant run mostly by one lady and sometimes helped by her teenager daughter.

Last time we ordered their gamja jeongol (potato with pork neck bone stew) and really enjoyed it. And we noticed that they had a few more stews on the menu. Most Korean restaurants only serve popular dishes like bulgogi, korean bbq or tofu stew. But we like a more hearty stew though of course stews probably more suitable for winter. This time though we decided to try the seafood stew (haemul jeongol).

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Japan Day 2: Namba and Dotonbori

River cruise on the canal. I think they're part of the Osaka Amazing Pass
It's summer so day got brighter way early at 5 am. Added jet lag to that and I was awake by 6 am. By 7 we were already talking about breakfast. Surprisingly hubby was suggesting ramen for breakfast. At home in San Jose, he would suggest other things if I brought up ramen suggestion. So I actually thought we would not have any ramen on this trip.

I looked up Ichiran ramen and found out that they open 24 hours. That was great news because the thought of waiting till 11 for the restaurant to open just made me grew weaker. So we got ready and left our apartment.

Shin Osaka station was packed with salarymen and career women. I noticed most of men wore similar outfit, white long sleeve and black pants.Women were not as many as men. Everyone move methodically almost like half dazed. While waiting for trains everyone heads down looking at their devices.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Transportation from Osaka Itami Airport

Bus schedule next to bus ticket counter. Next to it is a bus ticket vending machine
Osaka has 2 airports - Kansai International airport (KIX) and Itami airport (ITM). If you are flying straight from abroad, you most likely will arrive at Kansai International airport. This time because we flew from Narita we actually selected Itami because it is closer to town which makes easier airport transport.

One of my concern when arriving in a foreign country is how to get to my destination. The easiest way sometimes is to hop on a taxi if it would not break your travel budget. But Japan is not the place you want to flag a taxi so lightly. So I made sure to do my homework and did research prior.

What I found out was there were three ways to get into town (different parts of Osaka). 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Japan Trip : Day 1 - SFO - Narita - Osaka

After a bad experience with United Airlines years ago on our trip to Asia I swore I will not fly with that airlines to Asia ever. But  this time because we were flying in June which is considered high season so I was a bit worry about the ticket price. As soon as I found out that United actually had a ticket for $1400 to Indonesia even with a stopover in Japan I was ecstatic. I decided to give United another chance.

The trip to Japan started at San Francisco airport. We got to airport pretty early around 9 but were able to check in our luggage right away. Then we went for a proper breakfast since we left home pretty early. To our surprise there was a Wendy's there replacing some other restaurant which we didn't even remember other than being pricey. We got a spicy chicken sandwich and a panini sandwich. Both were satisfying.

The flight to Narita was full. To my surprise since I have not been flying United internationally for a while, the inflight entertainment was pretty good. Each of us had our own personal touch-screen for movies, TV shows and games.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Do you need Osaka Eco Card ?

While researching for Japan, I came across some information about Osaka Amazing Pass. With Osaka Amazing Pass one could visit a lot of sight seeing places varies from museums, river cruises to gardens for free along with unlimited free rides on subways.

Since we were there more for the food and not much on sightseeing so I decided to go with Osaka Eco Card instead. Osaka Eco Card  allows one day (not 24 hour) unlimited rides on subway, new tram, and buses. To help you managed your trip, make sure to select subway option when looking up rides using Google maps.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Creo-ru versus Hanadako - Osaka, Japan

Original takoyaki at Creo-ru
Just like okonomiyaki, another Osaka food that one must try is takoyaki (γŸγ“η„Όγ). Takoyaki is octopus ball made off mixture of flour, tempura scraps, green onion, pickled ginger, etc.

There are so many restaurants, shops and stalls serving takoyaki in Osaka. Each of them has their own secret recipes and distinction. My plan was to try a few places but unfortunately we were only there for two full days. So we managed to only try 2 shops.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Houzenji Sanpei - Osaka, Japan

Okonomiyaki with the bonito shaving topping
This restaurant was sort of thrown in last minute as we sat there by the Dotonbori canal contemplating on dinner. I have been wondering what the okonomiyaki tasted like but hubby wasn't quite convinced to try it. I managed to talk him into it by referring to an article I read recently. If you're interested, check it out at Tsunagu Japan.

But what is okonomiyaki ? It's like a savory pancake made of shredded cabbage, mountain yams and other ingredients like seafood, meat, mushroom, etc. Just like the name okonomi which means "how you like" or "what you like", you could put pretty much anything.

The okonomiyaki restaurant mentioned in that article on Tsunagu Japan was conveniently located at Dotonbori area. Google has it on the map and off we went looking for it.

Houzenji Sanpei was located on one of those discreet alley at Dotonbori. Like most of the restaurants in Japan, the name was in Japanese with a tiny English name which could be easily missed. A couple was outside the restaurant with the guy taking pictures of the outside of the restaurant before they went in. They were the first customer and we were the second. The restaurant was very tiny with only around 20 people capacity consisted of 3 tables and some bar seatings.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Rikuro Ojisan no Mise - Osaka, Japan

We came across a video on YouTube about some Japanese cheesecake that were just taken out of oven. Also shown was line of customers waiting to get hold of this cheesecake. The cake looked delicious and when we found out that it's available only in Osaka, we decided that it has to be on our must try list.

There were only about 3 locations that I known of in Osaka that sells this jiggly cheesecake. The Shin Osaka station, Namba location and Umeda. I will try to include the locations below.

We went to the Namba location early just after it was open and got ourselves a cake in less than 2 minutes. Practically no wait at all. There were another group of tourists enjoying their cake just next to the stall. We brought ours back to Dotonbori and found a seat outdoor while most of the shops haven't completely open yet.
Side look : about 2 inches thick with raisins just around edge

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

551 Horai - Osaka, Japan

We saw this brand mentioned on one of the videos by a favorite Youtuber - Tabieats on their Osaka trip. I thought it was interesting but we were not going to put it as a must try items for our Japan trip. But guess what we ran across a store on our first day in Osaka just as we passed through Shin Osaka Station.

It was already almost 9 pm and we still haven't checked in our Airbnb apartment yet. The thought of having jet lag and trying to find dinner in a foreign neighborhood didn't quite appeal to me. So I told hubby why not just do a take out as we passed through numerous food stalls at the Shin Osaka station. One of the options available were this 551 Horai which was popular for their bbq pork bun. But they also sell shrimp shumai almost similar to the dimsum restaurant version. So we bought some of those too.

Airbnb apartment 5 minutes from Shin Osaka Station

Before deciding on Airbnb I did look into the hotel price. The Airbnb price was surprisingly lower than I expected. Especially with additional amenities like pocket wifi, it's almost a no brainer to pick Airbnb over regular hotel.

This Airbnb apartment was advertised as 5 minutes from Shin Osaka station. The direction provided was clear so we got to the place with no issue. Problem happened when we tried to get through the automatic glass door downstairs. As we were trying to figure out how to open it, a resident came out. So nonchalantly we walked in. Later on we found out that out of the two keys provided, one of them supposed to be used to open the "automatic" glass door. It did open automatically from inside.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Ichiran Ramen - Osaka

Osaka weather the morning after we arrived was gloomy and a bit cool. Cooler compared to San Jose's weather when we left which was around 80s. I asked hubby what he felt for breakfast. Ramen.

I have a few ramen places on my to-try list for this trip. I googled Ichiran ramen and I found out that they're open 24 hours ! Perfect. It was 7 something and I was glad that I didn't have to wait until 11 for my bowl of ramen. We got ready and left our Airbnb apartment.