4 Jun 2013

Japan Trip 2013: Day 2

Mon, 13 May 2013
(Osaka Castle, Osaka Aquarium, Den Den Town)

I had planned a nice morning in front of Osaka Castle while we sip matcha and eat breakfast, but the reality of it was far from what I imagined. After taking a look at the shops open that morning, we ended up getting McDonalds to go. After some drink spillage and walking under the hot sun (much warmer than anticipated), we arrived at the gate and decided to consume our meal across the moat from the castle.

okonomiyaki and takoyaki mobile stall

The castle itself, and the area surrounding it, was nice, but nothing to write home about. Still, we lingered for much longer than anticipated. Next stop was Osaka Aquarium.

tenpozan ferris wheel beside the aquarium
quite huge
Looks quite impressive from the outside, but the inside was slightly disappointing. Well, a bit hard to meet my expectations after having visited the awesome Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium last year. While this one in Osaka was a bit disappointing, it was still enjoyable. Tickets are 2,300 yen for adults.

spoiler: today's lunch

I can't remember exactly what time we entered the aquarium. It was probably sometime around 11am. We left at about 1.30pm for lunch. The giant crabs at the aquarium sure made us hungry... so we decided on Kani Doraku at Dotonbori for lunch. If you plan to visit the aquarium, I would also recommend eating at Tempozan Marketplace beside the aquarium.

The meal at Kani Doraku was kind of a mixed bag. Some dishes were quite average. But I still think it was worth the price for lunch (crab kaiseki starts at 3,500 yen). You can check out their menu online. Photos of the meal below...

crab gratin
the simplest dish was the best dish
had to remove the meat from the shell ourselves, mix the crab meat and rice, then cover the pot and wait a while
the rice was drenched in the heavenly flavours of crab
alternatively, you could eat it as a ochazuke
The crab and rice dish made it worth every yen.

After that fulfilling meal, it was time for my first shopping spree of the trip: Osaka's Den Den town! Situated in Nipponbashi, Den Den Town is similar to Tokyo's Akiba, right down to its electronics-turned-anime-town history. It's missing all the glitz and glamour of akiba though.

It was here that I bought my sufami (Super Famicom) and a couple of games for cheap. Be aware that shops like A-Too will often be cheaper than the more established Super Potato, though the range of games is slightly smaller. Shop smart, compare some prices before committing.

I had planned for Den Den Town to take about 1.5 hours, but some of my friends were in slow window-shopping mode and ended up entering a lot of shops and spending quite some time there. With it being past 7pm already, I broke off from the group to locate A-Too and buy a 2nd hand sufami (console, power, AV cables, 1 controller) for a cheap 2,950 yen. With that done and one of my friend a little bored with the otaku shopping, we headed for dinner. On hindsight, I should have scheduled 2.5 hours for shopping there and came up with an alternative plan for non-otaku members of the group.

Dinner was at a 88 yen per stick yakitori place we saw yesterday. Japanese names in the brackets, for your future reference. Maybe I'll write (or search for) a yakitori guide one day.

minced chicken meatball (tsukune)
deep-fried shitake mushrooms (shiitake kushiage)
(from top left, clockwise) Fried prawn mayo (ebi mayo), fried onions (tamanegi), chicken heart (haato), ???, small pregnant fish (shishamo), chicken with leek (negima)
chicken skin (kawa)
eggplant (nasu)
I surprised myself with how many dishes I recognised on the words-only-no-pictures menu. My only mistake was probably the tamanegi, which I thought was some eggs and onion thing. lol. Most of the group was quite open to trying the more exotic stuff, and it was definitely worth it. My personal favourites were the chicken skin (kawa), heart (haato), mushrooms (shiitake), and onion (tamanegi).Probably one of the most memorable meals of the whole trip! Actually, this day was pretty great, food-wise.

Even after that satisfying dinner, we bought some stuff from 551 Horai before heading back to the hotel. Perhaps it was because we were already quite full and the food was a little soggy by the time we got back to the hotel to consume it, but the famous meat buns (nikuman) were not all that great. I would go for a regular da bao (chicken, eggs, and mushrooms!) in Singapore any time!

We had to pack that night and sleep early as tomorrow morning we'll be heading to Kyoto...

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