Osaka Day 2 Leftovers and Day 3: Day trip to Kobe, beef bentou, meeting friendly cats, and Himeji Castle.

After a exhausting day of braving the sun at Osaka Castle, for dinner on day 2, we opted for a nice meal at a random restaurant in Daimaru department store. This was because after scanning the perimeter in Americamura, (near Namba) I didn’t really see anything I wanted to eat. Duh. Americamura is famous for its hip stores, restaurants, and bars that cater towards foreigners or people interested in western culture or food. I wanted something more traditionally Japanese, so off to Daimaru we went in search of a restaurant.
I do not remember the name of this restaurant but judging by the selection of plastic food replica displays, the specialty was chilled soba noodles and unagi (eel) topped rice.

I’ve been to restaurants in department stores in Korea, and I was always disappointed by the quality of food compared to its price. But I learned that even department store restaurants are delicious in Japan, and the prices are actually reasonable comparable to prices in other restaurants as well.

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DSC_0166 Started off with a hot cup of Oolong tea. I must say, I really wanted a cup of cold water because I had been walking out in the hot sun all day, but after taking a sip I strangely felt refreshed. Oolong tea is also good for digestion.

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DSC_0168 Unagi-don (eel topped rice) with scrambled eggs. You could taste a smokiness in the unagi due to it being grilled over a fire instead of being cooked in a pan. The sauce was not too sweet and served as a delicious condiment to the perfectly cooked rice.

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DSC_0170 Udon with shrimp tempura. The soup tasted like it was made with a quality dashi stock, and the noodles weren’t under/overcooked. *slow clap* Impressive, Japan.

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DSC_0171 The unagi-don and shrimp tempura udon came with a couple of side-dishes as well as a dessert, sweet tofu pudding, which was also surprisingly delicious.

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DSC_0172 I ordered soba noodles with a tempura-don. I was given a mini pestle and mortar to grind up toasted sesame seeds and put it into the dipping sauce for the noodles.

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DSC_0173 Freshly ground wasabi and sliced long green onion.

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DSC_0175 The soba was paler in color to the soba I’ve had in Korea, and had a fragrant delicateness about them that paired well with the not-too-salty dipping sauce. Came with shredded egg, mushrooms, and a mysterious green vegetable that was crisp yet juicy at the same time.

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DSC_0177 Various pickles and aburaage (fried tofu skins) that has been simmered in a stock.

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DSC_0178 Tempura. The batter was nice and light and the insides were cooked just the right amount. There was a whole shrimp, potato, eggplant, pepper, and mushroom, with a good amount of rice.

After a satisfying meal, I had a nice sleep and woke up to head to Umeda station for the Hanshin special express to Kobe’s central Sannomiya station.

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DSC_0195 Looked around the block for anything interesting, specifically any Kobe beef joints but couldn’t really find anything.

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DSC_0197 Sannomiya station has numerous lines running through it and is pretty expansive, so there are buildings connected to the station. Went into a random department store and was surprised to find a very, very small stand(?). It wasn’t even a restaurant. But there was a huge line.

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DSC_0199 Interested, I took a look and found it sold bentous, specifically beef bentous. Just what I was looking for. There were approximately ten single counter seats and everybody ate in silence. Always a good sign.

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DSC_0200 Prices ranged from 600 to 3,000 yen for quality beef bentous. I chose the yakiniku bentou, which consisted of a few slices of grilled beef. You can choose your own sauce, and hearing the five people in front of me consecutively choose the yakiniku tare sauce, I chose it as well.    

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DSC_0204 The beef was nice and tender and came on top of a bed of thinly sliced cabbage doused in ponzu sauce (yuzu soy sauce). I recall the price being about 1,200 yen. Not as expensive as if you’d order a Kobe beef steak in a restaurant (runs from 5,000 yen and up), but judging from the line and from the taste, was just good enough for me.

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DSC_0206 Also came with perfectly cooked rice, a few pickles and a bowl of miso soup. The tare sauce was so amazing I regret not buying a bottle. The restaurant is apparently also a butcher’s and sold all kinds of cuts of meat as well as its special sauces.

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DSC_0208 Square watermelon.

After a satisfying meal we went on a search for a nice dessert before heading to Himeji Castle, which is about a thirty minute ride from Sannomiya. Came upon LaChaTa, a dessert shop that sold all kinds of tarts and cakes but also pastas and salads.

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DSC_0210 A fruit tart.

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DSC_0211 Cheesecake. The cheesecake in Japan is so different from the thick, dense American cheesecakes. So light and fluffy, complemented perfectly with the tartness of fruit.

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DSC_0212 On the train towards Himeji. The scenery on the way to the castle was serene and peaceful with a good stretch of visible sea. It almost felt like I was on the train that Chihiro goes on to visit Yubaba’s sister in Spirited Away.

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DSC_0215 Got off the station and walked approximately fifteen minutes to get to the castle. A lot of people in Japan wear arm sleeves to protect themselves from the sun. A lot of Koreans do as well, but mostly people on motorcycles, cars, or people who work in the sun. It seemed like a lot of pedestrians wore them in Japan as well.

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DSC_0216 Lanterns.

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DSC_0217 The architecture in Japan is just so simple but beautiful. I love the use of earthy wood and clean colors.

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DSC_0219 A cat I met on the way. With a Buddha figure photobomb.

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DSC_0220 There were a variety of shops selling food and souvenirs along the way.

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DSC_0231 Finally!

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DSC_0234  But. As you can see, the castle is being renovated. So there is a huge crane that ruins the picture.

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DSC_0236 I had to walk towards the other part of the huge park surrounding the castle to take a nice picture. The sun was also almost unbearably hot this day, but the area around the castle wasn’t as expansive as around Osaka Castle, so I’d say even during the summer an outing to Himeji Castle is totally doable.

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DSC_0249 Plastic replicas of food.

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DSC_0250 A cat I met on the way back.

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DSC_0257 Got on the train to go back to the apartment.

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DSC_0260 As we moved more in towards the city, I saw a lot more salarymen, office workers, all dressed the same.

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DSC_0266 Got off at I think it was Awaza or some station around Nishinagahori, the stop were the apartment is. Found a large department store/supermarket and decided to have dinner at the food court. Black curry with donkatsu and rice. Looks intimidating but tasted exactly like any curry.

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DSC_0267 And takoyaki. Takoyaki always tastes good. I don’t think I’ve ever had bad takoyaki. It’s difficult to mess it up. Just cook the little balls until golden and cover in sauce and it tastes great.

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DSC_0272 Tried a different brand of Mont Blanc.

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DSC_0273 WHY YOU SO GOOD? After having so much cake in Japan, I’ve decided my favorite dessert is Mont Blanc.

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DSC_0277 Also tried warabi mochi with bean powder. Tasted meh. Had a much better version I will blog about in an upcoming Kyoto post.

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DSC_0280 Of course, I had to buy a pack of shyoyu senbei. Soy sauce flavor thick, crusty rice crackers.

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DSC_0282 They have a delightful crunch and salty flavor that pairs perfectly with a cold, frothy beer.

Stay tuned for my upcoming Kyoto adventures!

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3 responses to “Osaka Day 2 Leftovers and Day 3: Day trip to Kobe, beef bentou, meeting friendly cats, and Himeji Castle.

  1. 핑백: Kyoto Day 2 and 3: a written oracle at Kinkakuji Temple, my dango wishes come true at Arashiyama, and the eventful last meal. | yorimcha·

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