Friday, February 28, 2014

Back for the Beef at M Yakiniku in Osaka

If there's one thing my family loves, it's steak night at home.  It's so hard to eat beef and steak just anywhere.  But when you find that restaurant that serves beautifully marbled, quality cuts of beef and can grill it to the point of slightly charred and glistening, you go back as often as you can.. well, as often as your heart and pocket can take it..

In 2012, I had one of the best meal's of the year in Osaka.  Since we were back in the city, we naturally had to re-live the meal.  Matsusakagyu Yakiniku has a a few locations around the city.  We went to the same location because of the great service of Kuni-san.  He's great with visitors to the city and remembers who you are when you come back.  Food and service, they always go hand in hand.

The beef was just as beautiful as ever.  Complemented with grilled vegetables and kimchee, this was again one of the highlight meals of the trip.  If you like beer, you should also try out Osaka's local bottles of pilsner, pale ale, and double IPA.  All locally crafted and pairs perfectly with the grilled meat.

Plates of meat

Plates and plates of meat

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Intercontinental Hotel Osaka

Last time in Osaka, we stayed at the St. Regis Hotel, with convenient walking access to Shinsaibashi all the way down to Dotonbori.  It's a great location if you want to be in that vicinity.

This time around, we wanted to be based around Osaka Station to enjoy the department stores, restaurants, and train access.  The new Intercontinental Osaka is located inside the new Grand Front Osaka mall.  I love hotels that have indoor access to malls.  You get to enjoy the conveniences of nearby restaurants and take out foods which you can bring back to your room.  Plus, if the weather is too cold or rainy or snowy, you can spend time in the mall and enjoy a warm meal without suffering outside.

The view from the room

The bedroom

Monday, February 24, 2014

Train ride to Osaka Station

The best way to see Japan is by getting out and onto the train.  Their train systems are so efficient and allows you to really see the country and other great cities and towns.  From Tokyo to Osaka, the JR Shinkansen (bullet train) takes about 2-3 hours.  The ride goes by so fast, and smooth.  Plus you can bring food from the stations or even buy it on the train.

The winter scenery along the way really changed once we neared Nagoya and into Osaka.  Fresh snow was starting to coat the grounds and roof tops.

From Tokyo, you arrive into the Shin-Osaka station.  From there you can take a cab or another train to connect to your destination.  The main station is the Osaka station.  It's worth a look as there a few great department stores, malls, and a lot of restaurants.  Plus since it was the year end/new year, the spirit of the holidays were beautifully lit around the station.

Katsu sandwich and a beer from the station for the ride.

Snow covered scenery along the way.

Osaka Station dressed for the holidays

Friday, February 21, 2014

Spanish cuisine in Tokyo

Aside from yakitori in Ootemori (the Otemachi tower) in Marunouchi, you can find the world's cuisines in the surrounding restaurants.  There's really something for everyone and for every mood.  Plus, you're in Japan.  And Japanese can make a cuisine even better than the original.  French macarons in Japan are near perfect, and I've heard even better than some of the good patisseries in Paris.  Japanized Italian food is amazing.  The pastas are perfectly al dente and saucy, and the pizzas are perfection (more on the pizzas in my Osaka posts coming up).

So, when we saw a new Japanized Spanish restaurant, we had to try it out.  Spanish food, after all, is one of our family favorites.  La Pesquera has a menu full of classic tapas and entrees, cooked with a Japanese touch - in that, some of the flavors are catered to the Japanese palate.  Overall, the experience was enjoyable in a great atmosphere with good service.  However, after trying this restaurant's interpretation of Spanish food, I prefer the traditional dishes in Spain.  In future trips back to Japan, I definitely have to try out more Spanish restaurants to get a better gauge of Spanish cuisine in Japan.  In all honesty, though, after traveling around in Spain and having a mom who cooks amazing Spanish dishes, it's a high bar when it comes to eating great Spanish cuisine.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Chicken and more chicken in Tori Kansuke

There is way too much to eat in Tokyo.  And it seems like every time we go back, even if it was just a few months ago, there are so many new restaurants and buildings popping up.

Because of the cold winter weather, we opted to spend some meals underground so we wouldn't freeze walking around outside.  Marunouchi is one of those places in Tokyo which is perfect for underground walking.  It's a whole city down there that connects to most of the buildings in the area.

The new Otemachi Tower (Ootemori) has a great selection of restaurants with varying cuisines for varying budgets.

For a fun yakitori meal, Tori Kansuke is the spot.  It's a corner restaurant with tables low and high.  The restaurant serves specializes in classic yakitori dishes, like grilled chicken parts and karaage, as well as kamameshi rice.  Plus the drink selection has something for everyone - wine, Japanese craft beer, sakes, sochus, etc.

This is a great place to check out if you're looking for a light meal, or an epic meal where keep ordering and drinking as the night goes on.

Karaage - Japanese style fried chicken

Grilled chicken wings

Monday, February 17, 2014

Japan for the Holidays

Back in Tokyo!  This time, it was for the holidays.  The last time our family celebrated a winter-cold holiday was in New York City right in the middle of Snowpocalypse.  While snow didn't hit the cities we visited this time around, it was definitely a chilly trip.  But, Tokyo is the perfect place for any weather because of it's amazing underground world.

We stayed at the Palace Hotel Tokyo again.  It's the perfect location if you want to be based in Marunouchi and near the Tokyo Station.  Like with all our favorite cities, we revisited restaurants we enjoyed in previous visits.  Some were consistent, and others like Birdland were unfortunately inconsistent with it's quality of food.

We also discovered new eats in our vicinity.  For breakfast I was hooked on 7-11's hardboiled eggs.  It's perfectly cooked and beautifully orange.  Japanese convenience stores serve some incredible food, no joke.  And sometimes there's nothing more comforting and clean than a good plate of soba.  It's so refreshing and satisfying all at the same time.  And because it was winter, we found comfort in hot meals like Japanese curries and tsukemen.  Filling and warms you right up.

The best part about eating in Tokyo is that you walk so much everyday.  My fitness band logged in an average of 20,000 steps each day.  It makes eating all those carbs a reward.

Back in Tokyo!
View of Marunouchi from our balcony in the Palace Hotel Tokyo