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Osaka: Dojima Roll Cake By Mon Cher Patissierie

In Tokyo, I satisfy my Japanese cake and pastry cravings at Harbs. Even though Harbs is also present in Osaka, I wanted to find out which are the other patisseries that I should visit.  One name kept popping up in my research – Mon Cher Patissierie’s Dojima roll cake.

I love love love roll cakes so I made plans to drop by their main outlet at Dojima in Osaka (which was a little way out from where we were staying).  Interestingly, the Mon Cher roll cake was created by a Korean lady.

 photo IMG_9261-160224-v2__zpsfszgaama.jpgAs luck would have it, I did not have to make my way to Dojima.  We were walking around in the Hankyu Department store in Umeda and saw a Mon Cher outlet in the mall’s food basement.  I hurried to the counter and stared at the roll cakes for a long time, struggling with the decision of whether to buy one entire roll cake back to the hotel, or be sensible and buy just two slices. We still had some Pablo cheese tarts sitting in the fridge in the hotel room!

In the end, good sense prevailed and I decided to get two slices of the plain roll cake.  By which time, the plain roll cake slices were almost sold out and only one slice was left if I wanted it.  Arggghh – the cost of indecision.  In the end, I bought the remaining slice of plain roll cake and a slice of chocolate roll cake.

 photo IMG_9279-160224-v2__zpscytitkaa.jpgThe roll cake was absolutely delicious.  The cream filling, made from Hokkaido milk, was very fresh, light and silky.  Mon Cher’s sponge cake was denser and had a more chewy texture, unlike the usual feather-light and fluffy Japanese sponge cakes.  I felt that bread flour may have been used in making the sponge, giving the cake its denser texture, which goes very well with the cream filling.

I should have just been greedy and bought the entire roll cake!

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Osaka: Pablo Cheese Tart

 photo IMG_0450-160222-v2__zps4t4bhpfa.jpgOriginally from Osaka, I have never heard of Pablo until a friend mentioned its popularity to me.  When I spotted a Pablo shop in Dotonbori, I joined the queue to get some tarts.

I bought a box of 3 mini plain cheese tarts and 1 chocolate cheese tart.  The plain cheese tarts were very yummy – the crust was light and flaky, the cheese filling was light and moist.  I did not find the chocolate cheese tart to be as tasty as the plain cheese tarts.

When in Osaka, look out for Pablo!  I read that the Hokkaido BAKE cheese tarts will be opening in Singapore this month.  Ooooh, I cannot wait to try. 🙂

 

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Osaka: Duck Udon In Dotonburi

 photo IMG_9226-160223-v2__zpsckp2wonn.jpgWe were walking along one of many covered shopping arcades in Dotonburi when we came across this duck udon shop.  It is the quintessential local Japanese eatery – you buy a meal ticket at the machine outside the shop, hand over the ticket to the staff in the shop, find a place at the counter and wait for your food to be served.

Duck udon sounded absolutely delicious, having had duck nabe in Kyoto a couple of years ago.  There were several duck udon combinations on the menu, eaten tsukemen style.  It took me a while to decide on whether I should order standard udon, or thin udon or soba to eat with the duck broth.  I ordered the standard udon set in a medium size serving while the husband ordered the thin udon set in a small size.  I am usually the greedier (and hungrier) of the two of us.

 photo IMG_9225-160223-v2__zpsbfcn6y1a.jpgOh gawd, the duck udon was delicious!  The broth was so good, that the husband ordered another set (udon + duck broth) while I ordered just another serving of udon as I still had plenty of duck broth left from the first set.  This is simple comfort food at its best.  I cannot remember the English name of this shop but I think it is called Kamokin.  It looks like they have several outlets in Osaka.  We are going back there again when we next visit Osaka!  It is so conveniently located in Dotonburi.

Kamokin Duck Udon

Address: Not sure
 photo IMG_9227-160223-v2__zpsg99ri88r.jpg

Directions:  Walk along Dotonburi (in the opposite direction from Midosuji Dori) until you spot this shopping arcade (the entrance is directly opposite one of the Kinryu ramen shops – the one with the dragon signage).  Enter the shopping arcade and walk ahead till you see the duck udon shop on your left.

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Osaka: Sushi Dokoro Isshin Hanare (鮓処一心はなれ)

 photo IMG_9190-160223-v2__zpskaac7zbb.jpgA 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.

 photo IMG_9175-160223-v2__zpsn8yh7tq1.jpg photo IMG_9173-160223-v2__zpst5vpp3px.jpgOf 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 loveuni, 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.

 photo IMG_9170-160223-v2__zpscjoutp4x.jpg
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.

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Osaka: Biotop Corner Stand

 photo IMG_9119-160222-v2__zpsc2impp4i.jpgA beautiful cafe along Orange Street that feels like a lush floral wonderland similar to Blute in Seoul.  Biotop is a concept store, with a cafe and nursery in one room and clothing, accessories and toiletries retailing in the next room.

 photo IMG_9120-160222-v2__zps793ulkfu.jpg photo IMG_9128-160222-v2__zpsyjxnyb7w.jpgI really like the idea of a nursery-cum-cafe concept.  How is that no one in Singapore has thought about setting up something like that?

 photo IMG_9127-160222-v2__zpsyooxmvdd.jpgBiotop sells drip coffee, pizzas and some baked goods (I think).  I would have liked to sit outside at the corner stand with my coffee but the weather was too cold to do so. This is a pretty place to hang out at while shopping in Orange Street, but if you want really good coffee, better to head to Granknot further down.

Biotop Corner Stand

Address: 1/2/4F, Meburo16kan, Minamihorie, Osaka
Opening Hours: 9am – 11pm
Nearest Station: Yotsubashi/Shinsaibashi

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Osaka: Granknot Coffee

 photo IMG_9219-160223-v2__zpsiodardrh.jpg

If you are in Osaka and want some good coffee, drop by Granknot near the Yotsubashi subway station.  Or you could easily walk to the cafe from the Dotonburi area, the cafe is in Orange Street (which makes it an excellent stop after shopping in the boutiques and shops in Orange Street).

Granknot
Address: 1-23-4, Kitahorie, Nishi-ku Osaka-shi, Osaka.
Closed: Wednesday

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Osaka: Hanamaruken Ramen & Other Ramen

I love ramen but with age, I don’t eat it very often because I can’t eat the amount of carbs in a bowl of ramen, not counting the slurp-worthy broth that is packed with so much calories.  However, it was hard not to eat ramen during our recent trip to Osaka.

We stayed in a hotel that is just a street away from Dotonburi and every time we turned a corner, we were bound to see a ramen shop, or a takoyaki stall, or an okonomiyaki restaurant.  I don’t really like takoyaki or okonomiyaki, so it was fairly easy to ignore those.  But ramen, tough.  So over a 2.5 day period, we ate 3 bowls of ramen (plus another 3 in Kyoto and Tokyo) which is quite a feat for us.

Kinryu Ramen

 photo IMG_9193-160223-v2__zpscua47ogx.jpgI read online that Kinryu ramen is one of the popular ramen chains in Osaka.  There were at least three Kinryu ramen shops near my hotel in Dotonbori – you can’t miss the chain’s impressive dragon signage.  I think Kinryu (and probably most of the other ramen chains) is open 24 hours, as we saw plenty of Japanese eating at the shops early in the morning.  Slurping ramen for breakfast?  Yummilicious.  So we had a bowl of Kinryu’s tonkotsu ramen for breakfast one morning, which was really nice in the cold weather.

 photo IMG_9239-160224-v2__zpswbu2nzcm.jpgLooks spectacular right?  I liked the thin Hakata-style noodles but the pork bone broth was not particularly memorable.

Ichiran

This is my second time at Ichiran, the first was in Shimokitazawa in Tokyo.  I hear that there is always a long queue for Ichiran ramen in Tokyo, so when we saw that the queue at this Dotonburi outlet was fairly short, we decided to join the bandwagon.

Ichiran’s thin noodles are great but I thought the broth in this Osaka outlet was a little too salty for my liking.

 photo IMG_9150-160222-v2__zpsyo2jhmpt.jpg photo IMG_9166-160223-v2__zpsovdlspps.jpgWe went to the Ichiran outlet along the Dotonburi river which seems to have a queue at all times of the day (probably because of its very prominent location), but there is another shop tucked inside one of the Dotonburi shopping arcades just 2 minutes away that does not usually have a queue.

Hanamaruken Ramen

I spotted this tonkotsu ramen in one of several shopping arcades that run perpendicular to Dotonburi and decided to pop in for afternoon tea.  I ordered the Double Happiness bowl and it was fabulous.  Definitely my favorite bowl of ramen amongst the three. I loved the tonkotsu-shoyu broth – the flavor was rich, intense and full of umami! Just look at the color of the broth!

 photo IMG_9268-160224-v2__zps8sk1sg0b.jpgI forgot to take a photo of the shop-front, but if you Google Hanamaruken, you will see many blogs featuring a photo of the shop.

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