Osaka, as I experienced it, is quite exciting at night. Maybe even too exciting. A popular place to be would be Dotonbori, the brightly lit advertisements resembling the colourful consumerism of Times Square, harsh and overwhelming.
Beyond the glitz of the ads ahead, the food at restaurants all over the area were what attracted me. Something that originated in Osaka (and continues to be popular here) is kushikatsu, or deep-fried battered skewers.
Kushizanmai Wasabi, the kushikatsu joint we went to, had great ones. My favourite skewers in particular were the beef, oyster, quail egg, and shrimp. It’s easy to choose the skewers you want since this place as an English menu and English-speaking waitstaff.
Another late-night staple from Osaka (which has since spread all over the world) is the teppanyaki. There are many teppanyaki bars and restaurants around Osaka. We went to Kuishinbo. It didn’t have a queue, and had a few local salarymen eating sobameshi (stir-fried noodles and rice). Wei Chiang and I went for okonomiyaki and takoyaki.
The okonomiyaki had a crisp top and bottom veneer, but the inside was simply filled with squishy, mushy cooked flour and a mix of savoury ingredients such as pork and shrimp in ours. You can choose your combination of meat. Other options are squid, octopus, beef, and scallop. With the strong sauces and seasonings lathered on top, together with the dizzying variety of textures, a good okonomiyaki is a real wallop in the mouth. It reminded me of the fried carrot cake that I eat back in Singapore.
We also got a plate of takoyaki, otherwise known as octopus balls. A common export, I am familiar with them, but I never liked the ones back at home, which were often cooked hard. The balls here were soft and gooey, and the octopus meat was slightly chunky but mostly tender.
Dotonbori and the surrounding streets just have so much food possibilities: ramen, melon pan, parfaits…but one last thing caught our eyes and tongues, which wasn’t exactly from Japan, but Macau: egg tarts from Lord Stowe’s Bakery. It may have been Japanese cuisine, but we loved it anyway.