Although I stayed in Osaka for my trip, we barely traveled to any Osaka Attractions. Our itinerary in Osaka was filled with food, more food and shopping. Well, here are my recommendations:
1. ENDO SUSHI @ OSAKA CENTRAL FISH MARKET
This place has been highly recommended by many food bloggers, one of which was ladyironchef. Being a sashimi lover, we had to visit this place without much hesitation. Unlike the Tsukiji Fish Market which has an entire area dedicated to food & shops, this central fish market in osaka is a lot smaller and quieter with fewer food options.
Directions to Endo Sushi: take the train to JR Noda or Tamagawa station (Pink Line). Follow the recommended walking directions as seen by the blue line. The walk will take about 15 to 20 minutes if you don’t get lost. (There might be another entrance along the main road but I am not blogging about it because I am not sure.)
Look for the Mini Stop Convenience Store, which is opposite a kindergarten. There will be the yellow and black gates (as seen below). Enter the gates and turn left, then turn right and walk straight. When walking inside the Fish Market, do be very careful as there will be many huge trucks driving in and out, especially during the busy hours in the morning. As we reached at approximately 11am, there was only washing to be done in the market..
We were very lucky to visit the shop at the off-peak timing between 10:30am to 11:30am. There was no queue at all and we got a corner seat and spotted Bryan Wong’s endoresement back in 2008! Always refreshing to see the word “Singapore“ when you are overseas.
Alright so if you are not fussy and easily satisfied with set-meals, you can just choose between the 4 sets of combination. It cost 1,050Y for 5 sushi, containing one fatty tuna (aka Toro). However, me being the fussy and greedy consumer, had something I didn’t like in every combination. Thus, I ordered ala carte despite the person saying that it will be more expensive as different pieces are priced differently. We did not get the menu for the individual sushi pricing, thus we couldn’t split the bill fairly because my friends all ordered the set except me.
I eventually paid 60+ for like 13 pieces of sushi.. haha not really a fair gauge but whatever. Eating Toro (Fatty Tuna) was so heavenly. I don’t know how to describe the taste but it was the best Tuna Sushi I’ve ever eaten. Totally trash the one I ate at Tsukiji. They aced on the thickness. So chewy and tasty in your mouth. The next time I visit, I’m gonna eat like Toro and only Toro. Maybe 10 pieces of it. Sea Urchin (Uni) is somewhat an acquired taste which some people like and some people don’t and for me it’s average. Good to have but happy without.
DO NOT MISS OUT ON ENDO SUSHI ON YOUR TRIP TO OSAKA. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT. On a side note, their opening hours are 5AM to 2PM and they are closed on Sundays & Holidays.
2. MATSUSAKAGYU YAKINIKU (BEEF) @ NAMBA
Before this trip, I was reading articles on whether Kobe or Matsusaka Beef was the better one. I was practically drooling every night in front of my computer when I read about beef.
This restaurant is rather tourist friendly as they have full english menu (available online), including a history of this special Matsusaka Beef. The treatment it receives sounds pretty similar to Kobe Cows.
There are 3 outlets but we end up visiting the one on the 2F as it was the first branch I saw. I even went one day earlier to make a reservation as such popular places are often fully book and may not cater to walk-in customers.
The aburi-style beef sushi was 500Y. Delicious but could be slightly overpriced as it is rather thin. It’s kind of interesting to eat it with a small tint of wasabi at the tip of the beef. Delicious.
We were deciding between getting the set meal which ranges between 3.800Y to 7,800Y but we eventually settled for the deluxe platter – 13,800Y (below) which gives you 6 parts of the beef. There were 4 slices of every part (not all are of equal sizes). 24 pieces in total, 8 pieces each and that equates to $6.60++ per piece. Right.
Bottom Left 1, Left 2
Bottom Right, Top Right
The serving of the assorted vegetables were a little disappointing.
It’s a self service concept and you grill your own meat, to your own raw-level.
Conclusion: Yes it is delicious and there’s somewhat a melt in your mouth feel but the extent is not as significant due to the thin cut..
(The other food that I’ve ate.. not really a MUST-EAT.)
Ramen shop at Namba – I chose this shop because (1) I was starving; (2) There’s no queue & (3) I didn’t walk pass the 24-hours Ichiran. Like most Ramen shops, it is pretty small and cramp. I managed to snuggle at a corner seat with my bulky belongings.. Thankfully, there’s an English menu, free flow of cold water and hard boiled eggs. A bowl of Ramen (with one thick chunky meat) only cost me 850Y. The noodle was boiled to the perfect chewy-level and the soup was so delicious that I drank up every drop. I didn’t managed to eat Ichiran (one of the most-raved ramen chain in Japan) so there’s no basis of comparison but I guess most Ramen shops in Japan serves decent standards.
PICCOLO CURRY RICE
This brand of Jap curry is unlike the usual sweet ones. The sauce is thicker and if I don’t recall wrongly, you are able to choose the size of your rice and spicy level. I chose the seafood flavour but most people usually go for the beef.
It is located at some underground shopping area at Umeda. Use the map below to help you locate the place. We took quite a while to find the shop amidst the confusing underground maze where shops don’t display their unit number..
The outlet was very small, having only 10-12 counter seats with an open kitchen concept. Despite the very small shop, there were 3 staff working in this super cramp environment. It is not like super awesome but if you are in the area, why not try this brand instead of the usual coco ichiban? It’s somewhat of a different taste.
PIERRE HERME MACARONS
This french brand has been my favourite macaron brand ever since I tasted the Passion-fruit Chocolate flavour back in 2012 when I was in Paris. It was so nice that I recommended it to my cousin and she bought me a box back from London. It was so nice that I bought a box when I was in Hong Kong last year. It was $35 for a box of 7. This macaron shop was definitely on my itinerary the moment I confirmed my trip to Japan.
I visited the one at Umeda, Isetan Basement. When I was there, the Isetan departmental store (except the food market at the basement) was under renovation. I was so lucky ^_^
- JR Osaka Mitsukoshi Isetan
B2F, 3-1-3 Umeda
Kita-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka-fu 530 8558
Open every day from 10:00am to 8:30pm
Tel :+81 (0)6 6457 1111
Anyway, I’m not sure if it was a miscommunication or what. The staff did not let me purchase the passionfruit chocolate flavour unless I buy the expensive box of 7. Anyway it could be a miscom as I don’t think that explanation makes sense. Unlike Hong Kong, they allowed you to buy individual pieces of macarons (approx 300Y each). If I were to buy the expensive box of 7, I think it would be almost 400Y per piece. Anyway, they gave me a flimsy box because I only wanted to buy 6 pieces instead of paying more for that stupid box. I think that macaron companies charging exorbitant prices for their boxes doesn’t make sense at all! but it seems to be the norm among the french brands..
Anyway, the flimsy box doesn’t come with the plastic tray, as seen like the one I bought in HK below. So I spent the next few moments asking for this sacred plastic tray which can help to hold my macarons upright, allowing me to bring it safely back to Singapore. Sometimes.. I really wonder if they don’t understand English at all or just choose to act blur because they don’t like to “reject” people.. I got tired of explaining and gave up. They consoled me by giving me an extra pretty paper bag after I told them it was a gift. I’m pretty sure the plastic tray cost lesser than an extra paper bag but.. oh wells..
Thanks to my ingenious idea, I stuffed a lot of tissue paper into my entire box to keep it upright (as seen above). After a 12 hour flight itinerary in my hand carry paper bag (together with this awesome cheesecake), my macarons arrived in Singapore in perfect condition.
If you have not tried Pierre Herme macarons before, you have to taste it!
WHITE STRAWBERRY AKA PINEBERRY
The search for pineberry began when we were in Kyoto. My friend was talking about White Strawberries which I‘ve never heard of and I struggled to put an image into my head. My friend then showed me this video where DBSK/TVXQ ate this special fruit.
Read more: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pineberry
Very, very cool. Being a great fan of unique, quirky and hard to find things, I knew I had to hunt down and try a Pineberry during my stay in Japan. I did an instagram search for “pineberry” & “whitestrawberry” and chanced upon some people buying them in Tokyo, Tsukiji Market.
For the next two days, I started visiting supermarkets feeling hopeful but each visit always end in dismay. until.. UNTIL.. I SAW IT AT A RANDOM C&C MINI MART at NAMBA. It was displayed right outside the shop and there were only 7 boxes left!!
I stared at the boxes of pineberries in disbelief as I didn’t think that I can chanced upon this somewhat rare delicacy at such a random place. Took a photo of it, stared at the price tag – 2,980Y + Tax. That’s like almost $3 per piece. Messaged my friends but they didn’t reply me as they were in a concert. Posted on Facebook to sound out some rationality but there weren’t much comments as most people don’t even know what the hell this is. It wasn’t until I saw a family pondering upon the same few boxes before I made the rash decision to buy (in case it becomes sold out by the time I decide).
Took crazily a lot of photos before we pop these expensive goodies into our mouth.
Stare carefully, the seeds are red!
Although most people describe that pineberry tastes like pineapple, I couldn’t really agree with it as I don’t eat enough sweeet pineapples to verify that claim. To me, it was this sweet-smelling fragrant fruit which would be 100% sweet, in comparison to the usual red strawberries. It is juicy, sweet and a taste of heaven (alright, high exaggeration due to the difficulty in finding this fruit).
If you eat pineberries together with strawberries, you will be feeling puzzled on why your strawberries ain’t as sweet..
We bought so many strawberries that we ate it over two nights. I wanted to bring some home to let my mother try but she said it would be rotten by the time I reach home.. so we had to finish ALL our strawberries on the last night.
Feeling very proud of my achievement, I started surfing instagram to find like-minded individuals to make myself feel happier about the money spent. I felt damn good when I found out that 1 piece of Pineberry could cost up to 1,080Y in Tokyo.
Back in Singapore, I chanced upon someone buying a box at $149.90 ($10/piece). Then, I saw it myself at Isetan Scotts Square at $129.90 for a box of 15. Looking back, I feel damn shiok about my $30+ spent. until..
My friend chanced upon a box of 12 selling at $29.90 at Fairprice Finest, Bedok Mall. I’ve been wanting to purchase this cheaper box to let my parents/friends try but I haven’t chanced upon it at all.
<update: The seeds in the picture beow are not red! It might be a hybrid of strawberry but it’s definitely not the famed pineberry; explains the price though>
Anyway, to those that have survived my long-winded post, here’s the location of the C&C mini mart that I have purchased my pineberries from. Do note that this fruit is HIGHLY SEASONAL and there’s absolutely no guarantee that you will be able to purchase it when you are there.
GOOD LUCK 😀
SHOPPING IN OSAKA
WHERE TO SHOP IN OSAKA?
1. Dotonbori / Namba (The place with the famous Gulica Running Man)
This should be the liveliest place in Osaka when it comes to food & shopping. Never-ending displays of neon light boards, fanciful 3D attention catching advertising and a lot a lot of people.
Pachinko Challenge – Ever since I learnt about the game Pachinko (via online), I’ve been wanting to enter a Pachinko shop in Japan to try it out. Being a fan of arcades/jackpots and cheap thrills, I thought it might be an interesting challenge. There were so many pachinko shops along Namba, some looking dodgy while others look very inviting (like the one below) but.. I was too afraid to enter the shop alone. Never mind. Friend was with me the following day. We entered the Pachinko shop and left within 30 seconds. We felt weird (mainly uncles and mid to older generation at the machines), it smelt bad (full of smoke) and we were clueless. No signs of english, no pictorial instructions, nothing at all.
Mission failed, but I would love to try again perhaps with more daring/garang friends or a Japanese who knows something more..
<Update: I did try Pachinko in the following trip to Japan – Read more in this link >
Visiting Dotonburi/Namba is not complete if you can’t find the famouos and iconic Glico running man billboard. It looks so old school despite the ever-changing background. As you can see, mine was the Easter Island Statue.
My next shopping recommendation would be..
It is located at Umeda, occupying 3 floors (10-12F) of Daimaru building. AND THE BIGGEST TIP I HAVE FOR YOU IS TO BRING YOUR PASSPORT WHEN YOU SHOP. There was a special foreigner discount ON TOP of tax refund but.. all of us left our passports in our accommodation. *right*
By the way, there’s a Rikuro Cheesecake at the bottom of Daimaru building. IT IS SUPER DELICIOUS. I brought it back to Singapore and despite eating it only 3 days later, the cheesecake was still fluffy, light, soft and tasty! MUST BUY.
Although Tokyu Hands is like the best shop ever as it sells practically almost everything.. it is super hard to resist stupid purchases because everything looks great.
Cmon.. Look at this. Spirited Away Bath House!! How cool can cool get?
Sakura theme kitchenware. oh gawd.
Fairy tale themed teapot and cup for afternoon tea. The head is the cup and the dress is the pot. SO PRETTY.
Rice cooker with serving size of 1-2 people. Feels very useful for me..
And the best part.. they have A HUGE COLLECTION OF NANOBLOCKS!
The Rilakkuma section was a little disappointing for me.. except for this mega 100cm rilakkuma which doesn’t have a price tag.
Extensive collection of Sanrio’s Purin.
Little Twin Star collection was even more disappointing than the Rilakkuma section.
Totoro was cute too. They had the full collection!
Latte art deco tools:
They even have Little twin star polaroid camera mini8 series. What a pity.. I already have the better 25 series.. Can only look and feel miserable.
No Japan trip is complete without a visit to the convenience shop/supermarket/DAISO. Love the dry noodles series!
The mandatory shopping loot photo before you pack your bag for good on the last night.
Check out the other entries:
- JR Pass – To buy or not to buy & other train tips
- Tokyo – Tsukiji Fish Market
- Tokyo – Tokyo Dome and SHINee World Concert Special Edition in Tokyo Dome
- One night in Tokyo – Oedo Onsen Spa
- Half Day in Kyoto – Yasaka Shrine + Kiyomizudera
- Universal Studios Japan Express 5 – March 2015
- Free bicycle rental in Himeji + Kobe
- Osaka Aquarium
- Eating & Shopping in Osaka