A friend recommended us to Isshin, a small local sushi joint that is yet to be discovered by foodie-tourists. She tells me the food is excellent and the price is beyond reasonable for the quality. I always trust her food recommendations in Japan – they have all been spot on for us.
We booked the place for lunch on our second day in the city. As the restaurant is away from the main tourist areas in Osaka, I figured that we might have difficulty getting there and back if we had opted for a dinner reservation. It turns out that the restaurant is located in a very convenient place (next to a Japanese shopping arcade) that is within walking distance from a subway station. Isshin is a typical Japanese restaurant. Tiny, beautifully decked out in light wood, it has a calming effect on the senses. Manned entirely by the chef (and his wife chips in too), Isshin has space for about 7 persons, all at the counter.
The one thing that I enjoy most about eating in Japan – be it a simple ramen joint, or a more formal sushi restaurant – is the interaction with the chef. You sit at the counter, watch the chef prepare, cook and assemble your food, perhaps have a chat with him about various topics, then have him serve you your food with a brief explanation of what it is all about. The Isshin chef cannot speak much English but we managed to plough our way through the entire meal without too much difficulty in understanding each other.
We ate and drank our way through some 13 courses (excluding fruit) of appetizers, sashimi, sushi and 3 carafes of sake for approximately ¥10,000 per head. For the amount of food that we ate and drank, the cost of the meal was very reasonable. Isshin accepts only cash. I am sure dinner will cost a lot more money but even then, we will be happy to fork out money for. It would have cost us double, or even triple the amount to eat that quality of food in Singapore.
Of the 13 items that were served to us, the kaisen donburi and shirako ponzu were my favorites. It is wonderful to be in Japan during shirako season. The kaisen donburi had all the stuff that I love – uni, ikura, ika, and the shirako was fresh and creamy. Even the usually shirako-squeamish husband ate up all his shirako. The chef served us more shirako in a sushi later on. I was in shirako heaven.
There are tons of good restaurants in Osaka which we did not have a chance to try given the limited time we had in the city. We were really glad to have gone to an excellent local sushi omakase place that is clearly off the tourist track..
Rest of the food photos are in the gallery below.
Sushi Dokoro Isshin Hanare
Address:〒530-0041 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Kita-ku, Tenjinbashi, 3 Chome−5−9
Telephone: (81) 06635217077
Directions: Take the subway to Minami-Morimachi station. Leave the station via exit #5 and walk straight ahead along the main Tenjin-bashi Suji road. Walk on the RIGHT side of the road and watch out for this restaurant called BUFF at a corner. At the next street after BUFF restaurant, turn right and walk straight ahead. You will cut through one of those traditional Japanese shopping arcade. Keep walking and you will spot a small park and some residential housing. Isshin is at the corner on the left of the small street. See Google Maps below. Enlarge the Google map and you will spot the Japanese name of Issin where the red marker is.