Friday, March 07, 2014

Kyoto's Kitchen in Nishiki Market

Kyoto bound from Osaka.  And it's so easy by train.  Depending on the train you take, the ride from Osaka station to Kyoto Station can range from 20-45 minutes.

In planning the day trip to Kyoto, temples and shrines were naturally on the itinerary as this is the city to take in the sights and nature's beauty.  When the day arrived, it was soo cold.  We decided to focus on our main purpose, the food market.  The other sights in Kyoto will have to wait for our next visit.

The Nishiki Market is a five block long shopping street filled with over a hundred shops and restaurants.  It's known as "Kyoto's Kitchen," as the shops specialize in everything food related.  Generations of families have been running these shops since it first opened in 1310 when it started as a fish wholesale district.  Today, they sell fresh seafood, produce, snacks, kitchenware, and all these local specialities.  It's a place for locals to shop for their meals, and for tourists to taken in the local foods and atmosphere.

The market is almost ridiculously crowded with people.  There were a number of times when I felt like a was floating in a sea of people who were crammed to every inch of my body.  But as crowded as it was, it was almost...pleasant.  Strange, right?  But I think that's just Japan for you.  The people aren't as rude, they don't smell..and maybe the cold air helped to filter out the potential grossness from the crowds.  In any case, this is definitely a market to check out if you have interest in local culture and food.

The start of Nishiki Market

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Hands down the best pizza I've eaten to date, in Osaka

If there's one food I can't do without, it's pizza.  Well, actually I can do without pizza if it's average or mediocre.  What I'm talking about is the Neapolitan pizza.  That slightly charred chewy crust made from quality flour, tomatoes, and mozzarella.  Yeah, I can't get enough of that good stuff.

Last time in Osaka, my brother kept raving about this pizza place called Echi Ponte Vecchio which he claimed to be the best he's eaten.  This time around, I was not going to miss out.  And, boy, did we get our fill of it.

It is, hands down, the best pizza I've eaten to date.  The Japanese have mastered Italian food and made it their own in the best way possible.  These pizzas were flawless and our stomachs were bottomless.

Here's just a sample of the pizzas we had in the two times we were able to eat here.  I think we ordered the margherita pizza at least 4 times...

Margherita pizza

Monday, March 03, 2014

Osaka's Okonomiyaki

The beauty of traveling with a food focus is that you travel to eat every town and city's specialties.  In college, the big traveling dream was to roadtrip around the US to all the ballparks and watch a baseball game in each of those cities.  These days, the big traveling dream is actually two dreams: 1) A wine roadtrip around the old world of wine, and 2) A expedition around Japan discovering the all their ramen origins.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying eating my knowledge around the regional foods of these current cities visited.  Osaka has a few known specialties.  One is the filling and flavor-filled okonomiyaki.  Okonomiyaki is a savory pan-fried pancake consisting of batter and cabbage.  The toppings vary to your preference, as "okonomi" translates to "to one's liking."  It is said that this dish originated in Osaka.  Other parts of Japan have variants of using noodles in the batter.

In Grand Front Osaka Mall, there are a few okonomiyaki restaurants.  Momojuu is a great place to discover the dish or the eat it again in a fun, casual setting.  The pancakes are cooked at your table so you get to enjoy the presentation and the heat of the food.  If you're in Osaka, you have to try out okonomiyaki in a restaurant to fully appreciate the dish and the experience.

The tables