28th of October 2017 - Just a day after my longest daily trip in the Kyoto area, I went with my wife for a "food & urban trip" to Osaka. Here a recap of this journey in our beloved gourmet metropolis. In the galleries above and at the end of this post, you'll find all dishes of the day plus those of our last trip to Osaka a week later ;-).
10:00, after a light breakfast, we leave Omoya (our share house) and travel to Osaka. The weather is crap, but it doesn't matter: our main goal today is to eat!
1st stage of our food-strolling: Shinsekai
Until about 10 years ago, this southern district of Osaka was almost unknown to the foreign tourists and one of my favorite places, a great area to eat cheap and wonderful food enjoying an old-fashioned downtown atmosphere.
Then, after a famous television program on NHK (the Japanese public TV channel), everything changed: Suddenly Shinsekai became fashionable, especially to eat Kushi Katsu (deep-fried skewered meat and vegetables). Many old buildings were demolished, old restaurants closed and mainly replaced by kushi katsu places or pachinko parlors (Japanese pinball). Since then, most of this area lost its charme...
Today, we're trying to find the remains of the real Shinsekai! Fortunately, one small part of the old district still exists, a small covered alley with one Shogi (Japanese chess) & Go parlor full of old men and a few old but excellent restaurants.
For our second breakfast, we're going to my favorite sushi place. It's always crowded, often you have to queue outside, but it's worth it! All sushis are really excellent and cheap. The Kanpachi is a dream! Contact me for the address :-).
Then, we stroll around Shinsekai, past all the new shitty Kushi Katsu restaurants and their annoying and noisy staff trying to lure us inside.
Resisting this awful tourist exploitation, a small shop still survives! It's a barber and hairdresser I always wanted to try, so now is the perfect time! It's so great and cheap: 700 Yen (about 5,5€) for cut (ears and nose too!), shave and massage, everything in 10 minutes. I've never seen such a service for such a price in Europe!
Before leaving the area, we visit an old Shotengai (shopping arcade) near the subway station. Sadly, the place is almost dead, with only a few shops still in business. Along the way, we stop at a butcher and eat one of best Korokke (potato croquette) we ever tasted!
Not far from there, we discover an ancient Wagashi (Japanese confections) shop with a plenty of varieties. Everything looks and tastes so good!
2nd stage: Semba, the salary-man food heaven
A gigantic wholesale district named Semba Center Building is located under the elevated Hanshin Expressway. The buildings, numbered one to ten, are home to about 1,000 specialized stores selling everything from textile products to jewelry.
But we came to this place for another reason... The basement floor of almost every 10 buildings is a secret gourmet paradise with an abundance of restaurants. I'm here for the first time but surely not the last! After checking the gourmet alleys of 3 or 4 buildings, we decide to try a free-range chicken specialty restaurant.
And what a restaurant! I took the most beloved dish on the menu, Chicken Nanban, fried chicken with a sweet and sour sauce. A real palate revelation, so crispy and soft. Wow! Besides, the rice is great too and you can have as much refill as you want. And I forgot to mention the minced-chicken with Japanese pepper for free on the table and the service... and the bargain price... A great place!
Last stage: Sad celebration at the sea
Really full but happy, we leave Semba to the port of Osaka, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary. Unfortunately, a new typhoon will make landfall in the region today or tomorrow, so the organizers decided to cancel all the manœuvres planed with three masts sailing ships.
Due to the weather, most of the visitors are staying indoors, and after a long walk around the port, we take the subway and travel back home. What a great food day! Here a few other succulent pictures, enjoy!