Crab is on the menu again? That was my initial thought when Stan and I were led into a separate room for our breakfast. The first food item we saw was a bowl of steamy, hot soup with half a crab inside. As I gave a quick glance on our table, I saw a closed bamboo box and two fish laying on top of a portable charcoal grill and felt somewhat relieved. The hostess sat us down and gestured towards a pot, telling us we could help ourselves with more crab miso soup. I was really surprised and impressed that the hostess set my chopsticks on the left side of the table. A small gesture but I really appreciated it. I know custom-wise it is considered rude to hold chopsticks with the left hand but as a lefty, it just could not be helped. It baffles Stan that I could do many other chores with my right, such as cutting, chopping, holding a badminton racquet, and scissors but my left is reserved only for 3 things, writing, drawing and holding chopsticks.
Despite it being another crab dish, the mild crab flavoured miso soup was a great complement on a cold winter’s day. Accompanying our bowl of piping hot rice was a selection of pickled veges, plum, salad, tofu with mushrooms, and tamagoyaki. My favourite among the batch was the tofu. From what I have tasted, it had been seasoned with soy sauce with a hint of sweetness. As for Stan, his favourite was the tamogoyaki. I also got to try umeboshi for the first time. Contrary to what I have watched or heard from television and reality shows, umeboshi did not taste as bad as the reactions portrayed on the screens. The reaction we often see is the constant squint in the television host’s eyes while he or she tries to find the nearest bin. The rice made the plum’s sourness less overwhelming and it was really appetizing.
Stan’s worst enemy fish with BONES! He has been trying to avoiding non deboned fish throughout his time as he told me he had 2 traumatising experiences as a child. Both times, he had a fish bone lodged in a his throat and his father had to use a pair of pliers to get it out. He face his feas and spent a good 10 – 15 minutes carefully excavating the fish with surgeon like precision, removed the frame of the fish and finished the fish in the end feeling very accomplished. Overall, the meal was simple and a nice breakaway from the heavy meals that we had for the last two days in Tokyo.
Before checking out, we left the ryokan to have a short walk and explore the quaint little town. The canal was lined with a seafood marketplace, a variety of omiyage and craft stores, onsens, vintage snack stores and arcades and quaint cafes and specialty stores. The closest translation for omiyage in English is souvenir but there is a slight difference in terms of its concept. Omiyage typically consists of specialty food items that the region is specifically well-known for and is not supposed to be consumed by the traveller but given out to family, friends and work colleagues. Well, Stan and I had broken that latter rule. We bought two packets of flavoured prawn crackers; one for ourselves and another for a friend whom we were supposed to meet on the next day.
Stan told me that this area is famous for is cherry blossom viewing. During springtime, Kinosaki gets busier as both local and foreign tourists come here to enjoy the cherry blossom viewing. Hopefully, we can come back here again some time in the future.
An obligatory black and white shot from yours truly, Stanley Tan.
After our short walk, we headed back to the ryokan to check out. The caretaker of the place gave us two laminated copies of photos of us during our stay, which was really sweet.
We took a couple of hours long train ride to Osaka. I know what I am about to say next is too much info but I really have to say it: As a girl, using a squatting toilet in a moving train is more challenging than using the lavatory on a plane. However, Stan described peeing in one of those toilets like trying to aim with a blindfold on. During these times and many other times when I visit public toilets, I silently wished I could change into a man so I could avoid long queues and not ‘hover’ above dirty toilet seats. For Stan, squatting toilets are more of a challenge for him since he grew up in Australia, he never came across one until he was around 9 or 10 while travelling in Malaysia. Let’s just say, it didn’t end well the first time he used it. Anyway,we reached Osaka at about 12-1 pm and checked into Arietta Hotel and headed to Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi. If you like your food and shopping, this is the place to be!
Walked around for a while, ate some street food that was too good that Stan forgot to take pictures. I also did a little shopping and was spoilt for choice while browsing the cute tights that were on sale. Stan also got to try some new arcade games and we took some wacky pictures from the purikura. Boy, do those Japanese girls take those purikura seriously. There was a row of makeup counters set up for them to prep themselves and also another counter renting out costumes. As for dinner, we ate at Mizuno for Okonomiyaki and Yakisoba.
The line was quite long but it was worth the wait. While waiting, Stan and I enjoyed observing both the locals and tourists around us. One tourist couple was giving attitude when they were told they needed to wait for 45 minutes to be seated. The lady gave a ‘tsk’ noise, put the menu aside and stormed off with her boyfriend much to Stan and my amusement and from our observation was probably from Singapore or Malaysia.
We ordered one of the set menu that came with 2 different okonomiyaki toppings that we could choose and a serve of yakisoba. Stan and I went for pork and scallop. Well, since the pictures speak for themselves, I do not think I need to describe the tastes any further.
Stan had documented the cooking process and had shown it to one of our ex-housemates. In one of the videos, she found one of the cooks who bent down to pick up some sauces pretty good-looking and was disappointed that he did not get more ‘air-time’.
Our last stop was a dessert resturant near the train station. I told Stan I never had parfait before even during my first trip to Japan I never had a chance to try it. The display plastic samples always look so pretty and delectable. Japanese parfaits generally comprise of layers of soft serve, cornflakes, fruits and various toppings. We each had a decent glass of chocolate parfait because one is never enough. It was nice and not sickly sweet much to our liking.
Before ending this post, one of the snacks we did manage to snap some pictures were these cheese tart and cheese pudding we bought from some franchise store called Pablo, there was a massive line outside the store, so Stan couldn’t resist checking it out. We just wanted to try a slice but due to communication breakdown, we ended up with the entire cheese tart itself. Like most Japanese sweets, the cheese tart and pudding were light, fluffy and not too sweet. We also like the light buttery taste of the shortcrust pastry.
Before heading off to bed,we watched this really weird late night Japanese show. It was sexploitation not at its finest but its weirdest. At first glance, it looked like some innocent travel show with two of the tv hostess exploring Korea. Things got weird whenever the girls tried the food there. There would be a closeup of the girls’ mouth as they ate while the chorus from James Blunt’s ‘You’re Beautiful’ played at the background. To make it even weirder, all the little actions the girls did became some sort of innuendo. For example, there was a closeup of one of the girls holding the rails as she walked down the stairs. Come on, I know hand rails are long but I do not think they are that ‘phallic’ right? And… that was the end of our third day in Japan and we could not wait to watch the next episode as the preview showed them going for bra and bikini shopping. Wow, much sexy! What will be in store for them? Will they flash their boobies at each other? Who knows?! I kid, we never came across that show again and we were actually excited on what Osaka has in store for us! P.S