551 Horai 蓬莱, Osaka

551 Horai is one of the most popular Chinese food chain in Osaka, famous for their Butaman (豚まん, pork bun). They have a high concentration of stalls littered all across Osaka and we also saw them in Kyoto. There is always a queue whenever we passed by the outlet in Kyoto hence we skipped it due to a packed schedule back then.

Got the chance to try their famous buns, which can be bought fresh or even as frozen food! Actually they also serve other Chinese dishes such as siew mai, gyoza etc. but were sold out when we visited them. The outlet that we visited even has a dine-in area serving Chinese food like fried rice, soup noodles etc.

In honesty, I don’t quite understand the hype behind these pork buns…They are as ordinary as our 大肉包 in Singapore. Somehow Chinese food 中华料理 seems pretty popular in Japan??? I recalled having passed by Paradise Dynasty outlet in Tokyo and there was a long queue to get in~

Another popular restaurant that we saw a long queue for is Chibo 千房 – a place selling okonomiyaki. However instead of getting an okonomiyaki, we ordered a gyoza teppan takeaway since it was sold out at 551 Horai.  It turned out to be quite an interesting find as their gyozas are served teppan-style. Instead of the usual dumpling shape, these are fried flat such that the skin are thin and crispy.

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Wanaka Sennichimae Honten, Osaka

Having spent an afternoon exploring Tennoji area we were back in Namba area for more street food. We tried another Michelin Bib Gourmand listed Takoyaki shop – Wanaka Sennichimae Honten.

Unlike the version served at Umaiya, the takoyaki served here resembles the ones we have in Singapore – topped with generous bonito flakes.

The centre of the takoyaki is slightly softer and more creamy while having a golden brown colour outside.

This shop is located within 5 minutes-walk from Namba station and there are a few other street food finds situated in the same area which I would cover in subsequent posts.

Photos taken earlier:

Took the subway and stopped at Shinsekai (新世界) to see the well known landmark of Osaka, Tsu-ten-kaku. This area has a nostalgic old-school atmosphere which is totally different from the modern Umeda part of Osaka.

From there we walked over to ShitennojiJapan‘s first full-fledged Buddhist temple, constructed more than 1400 years ago.

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Meoto Zenzai 夫婦善哉, Osaka

After a satisfying beef yakiniku meal, we headed around the corner to queue for our desserts at Meoto Zenzai. The shop was established since 1874

Although there is a queue outside, it moves pretty quickly as they only serve 1 item – red bean soup. We waited only about 10 mins and were shown to our table. The tiny shop space only seats about 15 pax, most guests leave quickly after finishing their dessert.

Each person is served 2 bowls of the red bean soup, they are exactly the same. It was served this way as the name of the shop 夫婦善哉 means couple red bean soup. However the shop does not allow sharing of 1 serving. Each guest must have 1 set by themselves as it is bad luck to eat it separately by 2 people.

I must say the serving is really only for 1 pax. Although it is served in 2 bowls it is actually very shallow. We had no problem finishing it despite having a full meal before coming here.

They use local produced azuki (red bean) specifically the Tanbadainagon grown in Kyoto and Hyogo which is a premium variety.  They serve it with a salted kelp for guests to refresh their palate because it gives a great contrast to the sweet red bean. This dessert makes a great comfort food when served warm during the cooler season.  A mouthful of this deliciousness goodness would fill my heart with ‘Happiness‘!

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Matsuzaka-gyu Yakiniku M, Osaka

Since we wouldn’t be travelling to Kobe, the alternative option to trying out quality wagyu is to try Matsusaka wagyu 松阪牛 which is available in some restaurants in Osaka. As we had a short planning time, it was a slight challenge to source for an available booking slot. We had to settle for lunch instead of our preferred dinner slot at Matsuzaka-gyu Yakiniku M. The restaurant has 4 branches Dotonburi area – all within walking distances, so it is easy to go to the wrong one if you didn’t get the exact address.

I liked that the tables are all private ‘rooms’ for small groups (2-4 people). Actually, they are not exactly ‘rooms’ per se, each table has booth seats and a curtain partition such that every dining group has some sort of private space to enjoy the meal comfortably. Ventilation is also well-managed. In fact we were initially wary of having to walk around town in our grease-tainted clothes for the rest of the day but it turned out well, and it wasn’t really a concern at all.

As for the menu, there are options to go ala carte or set course platter. We opted for the latter – DX platter with 6 different parts of  Matsusaka beef and vegetables for 2 pax.

Here’s the amazing and beautifully plated platter~ Look at the fats distribution on the beef~ The 6 parts range from lean (Ran-Ichi) to the marbled (Sirloin steak).

To show the difference of the parts when grilled, you can see that the one on the left belonged to the lean part whereas the right side belonged to the marbled part. The marbled parts turned crispy, hence more fragrant and has a melt-in-your-mouth texture that does not require much chewing compared to the lean part.

This place is heaven for beef lovers! A very satisfying meal.

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Fukutaro 福太郎, Osaka

We continue to explore the street food scene in Osaka by visiting Fukutaro 福太郎 – a Michelin Bib Gourmand listed eatery specialising in okonomiyaki.

This shop is really popular. We tried to avoid dinner peak and chose to visit them at 9.45pm to put our names on the waitlist. Thereafter we roamed around the nearby shopping street area while waiting for our turn. We finally got in about 1 hour later.

Chefs were seen preparing the dishes at the counter at the front before serving them to the guests at the seats. While the signature dish at this place are their okonomiyaki and a special negiyaki (negi leek-filled okonomiyaki), we were concerned that it may be over-cloying to finish 1 whole okomomiyaki per person.

While observing the Chefs at the front of the counter, I observed that there were bacon strips added to the negiyaki..although I’m a negi-lover, I’m not that keen on bacon… So we went with a seafood Yakisoba and a more conventional okonomiyaki. The yakisoba was served first and we finished in pretty quickly. It suited my taste as it was not too savoury nor oily – I guess we had too much poorer quality ones in Singapore

Up next was the Okonomiyaki which was topped with the rich brown okonomiyaki sauce and generous mayonnaise. It was surprisingly bare without the bonito flake toppings but that certainly did not affect the overall taste of this dish here! It was also not over-cloying to finish one by my own with the generous ratio of crunchy cabbages underneath.

It was a nice meal but I’m not sure if I would spend an hour queuing for it in future with so many other supposedly good quality okonomiyaki stores available in Osaka.

Passed by Dotonbori to visit the iconic Glico Running Man and what a difference 8 years make! They have upgraded to LED display, which made the man looked sharper in terms of resolution. Interesting to note that the surrounding advertisers have remained the same as well.

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PABLO mini, Osaka

Passed by the Pablo Cafe at Dotonbori around noon but decided that we probably can’t finish the 15cm diameter whole cheesecake during our stay in Japan (in fact we are flying off the next day and we wanted to try a lot more variety of food than be burdened by this huge serving of cheesecake).

We gave it a missed until we chanced upon Pablo mini where they sell the smaller sized cheese tarts.

There were seasonal limited editions while we were there – Cinnapple and Roasted Marshmallow Strawberry. I had to check that these flavours were available before committing to purchase a box of assorted flavours so that we get to taste a variety of flavours. The small size tarts are great for someone like me who wants to try a bit of everything!

So there you have it~ At the top tier were the regular flavours: Original cheese flavour, Chocolate and Matcha; and at the lower tier were the Strawberry (Pablo mini store limited edition), Roasted Marshmallow Strawberry and Cinnapple.

I like the limited edition Roasted Marshmallow Strawberry the most followed by the Cinnapple then the Matcha. The cheese tarts have a flowy filling and I ate them chilled so it was really refreshing.

People frequently compares between Pablo’s and Kinotoya Bake‘s cheese tart. In my opinion, I like the variety available at Pablo, but felt that in terms of original cheese tart flavour, the Kinotoya’s filling is richer and lighter.

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Mikkouya 蜜香屋, Osaka

Mikkouya was an accidental find while strolling along the Tengo Nakazakidori Shopping Street where we visited so as to try a Michelin Bib Gourmand Takoyaki and a place popular for their Kakigori.

What caught my attention was because they specialise in sweet potato products. The shop sells baked sweet potatoes, with more than one type of sweet potato on offer, such as yellow or red or purple.

We were quite full and were not able to stuff down the baked sweet potatoes so we decided to buy a box of the freshly fried Nakazaki potato slices. The sweet and crunchy chips were coated with honey and was very addictive.

With this we ended our leisure afternoon at Tengo Nakazakidori Shopping StreetIf you have more time to spare, you can take a short walk over to the more famous Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Street – the longest shopping street in Japan spanning 2.6km!

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