On Day 3 of the Kansai Food trip, we visited 3 prefectures, Kyoto, Hyogo and Osaka.
10 minutes away from JR Nijo Station, we attended During the 1-hour class, we tried our hands making our own wagashi, traditional Japanese confections that are often served with tea, with the guidance of class instructor.
The pastry, red beans and confectionary tools, spoons and chopsticks were provided. After the demonstration by the instructor, we would follow along the steps to make two types of sweets. At the end of the session, matcha tea was served with other sweets for us to enjoy.
From Osaka, we travelled to Nishinomiya, in Hyogo Prefecture to visit the Ozeki brewery. A special tour was organized to enable us to see for ourselves how sake was manufactured in the brewery. The right combination of rice, water and brewmaster is important in making sake. We toured every brewing process from the examination of the rice conditions, determination of the rate of rice polishing, fermentation process and the monitoring of the temperature required for the whole process.
After the sake-making tour, we were offered different kinds of sake to smell and guess the ingredients used to flavor the sake. Like any versatile drink, sake can be paired with a lot of things to boost the taste. Another important tips for serving sake is that it can be served at room temperature, warm or straight from cold fridge. At the end of the tour, we made our way to visit Sekijuan where sake bottles were stocked up. Do not forget to look up for the sake skin care products on sale at Sekijuan.
Back in Osaka the same afternoon, we tried Okonomiyaki, a snack popular to the Kansai region alongside the takoyaki. From the moment we entered Kiji Umeda-Ten, the smell of the brown sauce filled in. Okonomiyaki is made of wheat flour dissolved in water with added Japanese yams and cabbage. The uneven square shape will then be half-grilled with filling of choice by the chef before the okonomiyaki is transferred to the iron girdle on your dining table. You can also order okonomiyaki topped with soba noodles. There is always a long queue before you can enjoy the okonomiyaki.
Address: 1/2F Shinumeda-Shokudogai, 9-20 Kakudacho, Kita-ku, Osaka-shi
Time: 11:30 – 21:30 (Closed on Sundays)
After feasting over Japanese food for the last couple of days, it was timely to make a visit to the Kuromon Ichiba Market of Osaka, where the fresh products were put on sale before ending up as meals. Kuromon Ichiba Market is also an excellent place to find array of street food to sample from takoyaki, grilled scallop, oden and sashimi.
Fresh sushi and sashimi are prepared fresh for immediate consumption. Being the most well-known fresh market in Osaka visited by tourists, the price can be quite stiff as compared to other local markets. But it will be difficult to resist the temptation of fresh food prepared under your nose. There is also tuna cutting demonstration available at Kuromon Ichiba Market.
Read more: Kuromon Ichiba Market, Osaka
Address: 2-4-1, Nipponbashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi
As for dinner, we were taken to the neon-lit food street in Kita-ku to have exotic Tora-fugu (tiger puffer fish) dinner at Guenpin Fugu. The wild tiger puffer is highly selected in Shimonoseki, Japan. With 93 restaurants nationwide, the Guenpin Fugu serves the exotic delicacies at an affordable price. As tiger puffer fish is by default poisonous, the chef requires training and license to cut the puffer fish and prepare the meals.
First, we enjoyed the wild puffer hot-pot course. After devouring the croquettes glazed with fugu sauce and the parboiled tiger puffer skin sashimi, I was fascinated to learn how the Japanese hot pot worked. A mixture of fugu, prawns, clams, mussels, zucchini in fugu-flavored clear broth was laid out in a paper pot and cooked on our table. Amazing how the food was cooked directly under fire without burning the paper. There are 3 choices of sauce for condiment ranging from ponzu (citrus sauce), soy sauce with miso and dip set of sweet spicy soy sauce, garlic salt and sweet spicy miso.
The leftover clear broth from the hot pot was then used to prepare a fusion Italian spaghetti cuisine. Then, a Japanese porridge mixed with egg was prepared in another paper pot as our final course. Our fugu meals was concluded with Guenpin’s special dessert. 5-dishes course at Guenpin Fugu costs between ¥4,500 – 9,000.
Address: 4-17 Doyamachou Kita-ku, Osaka-shi
The above is written in conjunction with a familiarization trip courtesy of Kansai Gastronomy Tourism Promotion Council Office, Japan Railway Company, Keihan Group, Don Quijote Group, Sakai Tourism and Convention Bureau, and Wendy Tour.