Osaka: Japan’s Kitchen


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Phasellus facilisis id velit eu ornare. Vestibulum eu accumsan est. Fusce sit amet vulputate enim, eget pharetra ligula. Curabitur ultricies nisi mauris, ac faucibus dui varius in.

It was in the 90’s when I started to frequent Japan. Filipino celebrities were often invited to entertain our kababayans who worked abroad. In a way you can say our job was to relieve the homesickness of our hardworking overseas workers in the land of the rising sun. And those were really good times, and especially novel back on the time when the world that was not yet globalized.


While we went to many provinces then, I never really got to enjoy so much of the nation because of our odd working hours. We were asked to perform at three in the morning and often ended at around nine. We barely had energy to do anything else in the day and instead we slept in and got ourselves rested for another full night’s shift of entertainment.


Nevertheless I got to try the onsen (public baths the Japanese so love), shopped for little trinkets at Don Quixote, and spent much time trying to understand what was written on the menu. My shopping included Akihabara for anything electronic, and boot bargains were almost everywhere.


2000, Yokohama


Ten years after the turn of the millennium, and I entered a new course of life. I married a ministry man in 2010 and we went to fly to Japan together three years into it. I was surprised to see a very different Japan. First of all, our church was in Yokohama, which is a province quite obscure from Filipino tourists. It is an hour away from Tokyo and is beautifully situated by the bay. And as always, I prefer the appeal of small and quaint city over the bigger and high profile ones of the country.


2017, Osaka


There was nothing beyond Yokohama for us in the last few years and it’s because most of our friends live there. But I always thought it would be good to visit the other provinces, as our friends say each region will also display quite a different character from Tokyo and Yokohama. So this was my inspiration when a seat sale flashed on my feed, and I immediately booked my family and some friends to visit Osaka this year.


Apparently, this city in Kansai is a food destination, and for the first time in my life, I actually had an itinerary that was pretty much spent mostly on eating! Even our friends from Yokohama say that food tripping is an utmost priority in Osaka, as well as its neighboring cities and really, we had no problems of obeying. All five days were about tiring ourselves enough to eat a horse for every meal. And today I share some of the best stops that filled our hearts, minds and tummies as we explored the streets and eats of what is actually called to be the “nation’s kitchen.”


Day 1


Because we came from a red eye flight and took us a half a day to settle that we ended up ready for lunch at three. Apparently, all restaurants around our airbnb in Shin-Osaka were closed and thus we ended in Family Mart. Nevertheless my friends swear by their Karaage. It is a delicious way to tide through your next meal.


There was also quite a lot at the Shin-Osaka station for eating and shopping. I believe all stations must have a variety of local food, as well as small shops for light shopping and souvenirs. We stopped by for quick ramen before heading out to Dotonbori.


Now Dotonbori is a different story all together. Here, you will find Takoyaki, Okonimyaki, and ramen that you will probably never find to be as good outside of Japan. It is hard to miss the restaurants, but part of the experience for us was eating al fresco, out in the cold yes. We ordered from the stalls and shared our discoveries. All were superb!


Day 2


The itinerary was Osaka Castle, which we did not bother to enter so we paid nothing but for transportation. (We used trains all the way, FYI. No cabs for us, all subway and JR.) It was more than enough to talk along the yards and enjoy the beautiful fall scenery, anyway.


And if you get hungry, almost every shrine and landmark would have food stalls that sell the usual Japanese delights: takoyaki, okonomiyaki, sugar-laced sweet potato in cups, grilled corn, hot pot, and more.


At night we headed to Umeda. We were supposed to see the Sky Building but temperatures kept dropping by the hour. It was also very rainy and windy the whole day that it slowed down our pace, walking to and fro stations and destinations. But the delight of our day came when we chanced upon the Umeda Shopping Arcade and a stall called Tart Stand which sold the best cheese tarts I have ever tasted in my entire life! Goodness, from crust to the quality of cheese and how it melts away in your mouth is world class. This is worth your effort. Don’t leave Osaka without getting even just a piece of this. Plain and crème brûlée flavors are both so good that you really cannot possibly go wrong with the choices.


After this cheese dessert, we all wanted to have some coffee and stopped by a branch of Hoshino Coffee in the area. (They have lots all over Kansai. Arcades mostly have it.) It is when we tasted perhaps the best pancake soufflé in the world, that was best paired with their coffee. (Japanese coffee by the way, has a very strong flavor and kick.) This warm pancake was also so comforting to our souls on a rather chilly day.


Day 3


Note: Osaka is also a favorable destination as it easily springs toward other cities like Kyoto, Nara, Kobe.  


It was Sunday and there goes our biggest mistake. This was the day we reserved to explore picturesque Kyoto and it was nothing short of crowded! Nevertheless, follow lists you find online. It hides many pathways that are conducive for thinking and reflecting. We went to see Arashiyama and Fushimi Inari, ate a standing-only udon/soba soup bowls stop at the train station and it turned out to be the best meal of my trip! Later on, we decided to find a sushi on a conveyor belt like of restaurant, which we also happened to find at the train station. Here is a tip: if and when in doubt, you can always find something gastronomic around the train stations!!!


For Memoirs of a Geisha fans, do visit the Gion District where some geishas are said to appear before sunset as they walk to work. I saw some people in kimonos however I was not really sure if they were the real deal, nevertheless it is a very cinematic walk to take and very fulfilling for trigger-happy photo hobbyists!


Day 4


Some of our friends from Yokohama arrived and they suggested to meet at this really famous pancake place in Osaka called Elk. ( It is actually all over Japan and it is only a matter of finding the nearest branch to you, but just like the Tart Stand, this too, is a MUST. Fluffy pancakes, with awesome flavors. My advice is to get the simplest, the most basic on the menu and if you want to try anything outside of it, the pistachio Christmas special.


Now the rest of the day was about walking around and also a little shopping. As I have recommended once before, my most favorite shops in Japan are Daiso, Flying Tiger (which is a Copenhagen brand that somehow found a place in the quirkiness of Japan), and GU.


You can almost always find this around you, too, so do find a Kushikatsu place. This is a Japanese dish of deep fried skewered meats and vegetables with special dipping sauce. We had this for late lunch on Day 4 and found our way back to Dotonbori for dinner. I told you, we were only tiring ourselves out so we merit the right to eat more meals.


Day 5


On our last day, we went through the ultimate Japanese experience of getting lost in their intricate subway system as we went to Nara Park. It is the park where people get to feed droves of deer that inhabit the place. My son had so much fun feeding them off his hand and observing their behavior. On our way back to the station we chose to eat at a decent restaurant and I think that I won the award for having ordered the best set on the menu!

Aside from my shop recos above, do try Bic Camera also for all your technology needs. They have almost everything you can think of when it comes to photography paraphernalia, and all other gadgets.


And because this was our last night that we couldn’t resist going back to Dotonbori for dinner. Once again, we braved the cold and the crowd that went along with us, and ate perhaps the best ramen I have ever tasted in my life. It was in a ramen house called Todai Ramen. With your meal comes unlimited free raw eggs you can crack into your soup bowl or turn into sauce for your beef. If it sounds good it is because it really is and there was no other way we would have rather closed our five-day agreement that instead of our hearts, we would be following our stomachs around Japan.


How did you like this article? How is it helpful to you?


Leave a Reply

Previous Post
Free WiFi Service
Read More
Next Post
A Table Is Not Just a Table
Read More