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Dotonburi Sushi
I’ll be posting a lot of backlog from my last Osaka trip so this is just a heads up. I get a lot of messages from family and friends asking me what my favorite Osaka food finds are so I thought it’d be convenient to just post them all here for everyone to see.

Dotonburi Sushi
I have no idea what this restaurant is called but we found it when as we were walking around Dotonburi for brunch. It was a brightly lit take-out sushi and sashimi joint where all the fish is freshly packed and refrigerated, just like in the grocery aisles. What sets this place apart from a grocery is that there are stools and high tables on one side where diners who buy their fish can dine. The tables have soy sauce, tissue and chopsticks and the place sells drinks as well.

Dotonburi Sushi
It’s a pay at the counter kind of place. I can’t say it’s a restaurant cause it’s a lot more like a deli with rows and rows of pre-packed sushi and sashimi.

Dotonburi Sushi
There was even a booth where they were selling fresh and grilled oysters for ¥400 a piece.

Dotonburi Sushi
We had grilled oysters topped with soy sauce, butter and lemon.

Dotonburi Sushi
Then we looked through the different rows of fish and picked out the stuff we wanted to try. There was a wide array of sorts, from the affordable to premium.

Dotonburi Sushi

Dotonburi Sushi
I was happy to see fresh slabs of otoro in the mix. It’s the fattiest best part of any tuna and comes straight from the belly. It’s usually pricey but in this fine establishment, Otoro Sashimi was ¥1500 which at Php 550 is affordable.

Dotonburi Sushi
Of course, I ordered it. After paying, you can have it sliced by any of the chefs on-hand. If they’re not prepping stuff for customers, you’ll find them slicing and packing more fish and putting them in more take-out containers.

Dotonburi Sushi
Sake Nigiri and Rolls for ¥500 / Unagi Nigiri for ¥200 / Tamago for ¥100

Dotonburi Sushi
Look at the stripes on the salmon slabs, absolutely gorgeous. Tasted great and fresh as ever.

Dotonburi Sushi
The Otoro was served with hot, seafood miso soup with baby clams. It was the best sashmi I ever tasted. It melts in your mouth just like butter and it’s rich, creamy and just such a dream to eat. I savored every second I had it in my mouth. It’s best eaten with your eyes closed.

Dotonburi Sushi
We also saw that they were filleting a huge tuna by the time we were done eating. It’s some sort of tourist attraction there. There are guys gutting and cutting this huge fish and showing the different parts of meat inside.

Maybe you’ll all laugh at me when I say this was one of the best sushi/sashimi meals I had in my life. Never cared much for ambience and I find that the most unassuming places end up surprising you. What makes this place so special to me is how fresh everything is and the quality of the products and the prices all just don’t add up! It’s too good to be this cheap but I’m glad. Thank you Japan for going above and beyond my expectations every single meal.

It’s strange but I’ve been visiting Osaka yearly for 3 years now and I find that sukiyaki shops are hard to come-by. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of restaurants and food everywhere – but the thing with Japan is that most (if not all) restaurants just serve the same kind of food. If you want sushi, you go to a sushi place, ramen shops will only have ramen, katsu shops will only have katsu, you get my drift. I always stay in the Shinsaibashi area which is just walking distance to Dotonburi and Namba – and I don’t know if it’s just me but sukiyaki restaurants are few and far between. There seem to be a lot of shabu-shabu Japanese hot pot places but nope, not a lot of sukiyaki joints.

The first time I discovered Syabuya Sukiyaki was on one of the last few days of my trip last year. I was hell bent on eating sukiyaki and lo and behold, a google search came up and lead me straight to the mall – Namba Parks.

Sukiyaki Namba Parks
Tried both the Japanese Beef Lunch Set (¥2,037) and got Imported Beef on the side just to try. The lunch set comes with everything in this photo but since it’s a set, this is pretty much your whole meal.

Sukiyaki Namba Parks
I never ordered the Imported Beef again – as you can tell by the photo it’s lean and barely has any marbling.

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Their menu is pretty straightforward. You pick if you want Sukiyaki or Shabu-Shabu. Beef or Pork? Japanese beef or US beef? Do you want to eat a set or unlimited? When you pick the unlimited option, everyone in the table has to get the same thing.

Sukiyaki - Namba Parks
I went back with my family and we all got the Unlimited Japanese Beef Sukiyaki Set (¥4,298). This comes with unlimited everything – beef, rice, raw egg and veggies. It’s a steal at Php 1570 if you ask me cause you’d be hard pressed to find unlimited sukiyaki this good at this price point anywhere in Manila.

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Just a closer look at the Special Japanese Beef. Check the marbling on that thing! It’s embarrassing to admit but I think we finished twelve of these trays total. Sulit na sulit! Lol.

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It’s a full plate but enoki is all that matters. They served us about 4 small extra plates of enoki.

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If you’ve never tried sukiyaki, it’s basically a Japanese hotpot stew. You start by letting the soup (soy sauce, sugar, mirin) boil, slowly adding leeks and some onions for a bit more flavor then when it heats up, you dip thinly sliced beef in and swish until it cooks.

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What really sets this dish apart is the quality of the meat. Because prep is so simple, the ingredients really do stand out. Just by looking at it, you can tell Syabuya’s Japanese beef is top-notch.

Sukiyaki - Namba Parks
Swish til it’s brown!

Sukiyaki - Namba Parks

Sukiyaki - Namba Parks
When the meat cooks, you dip it in in a separate bowl with beat raw egg and eat it. You can have it alone or with Japanese rice or noodles or tofu or veggies. I particularly enjoy eating it with rice and sometimes enoki. Dipping it in raw egg is a must. It enhances the flavor, adding a creaminess to the bold taste of the meat and the sweetness of the sauce. It just balances everything out better.

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This is all the natural oil that came from the fat in the beef. The soup had zero oil in it, just had to take a photo for reasons unknown.

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The aftermath. Thankfully they remove the trays of beef every time they see them empty otherwise our table would have a little tower.

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The bill!

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Sukiyaki Namba Parks
The restaurant is located at the 6th Floor of Namba Parks – it’s in the area where all the other restaurants are so it shouldn’t be hard to find.

Syabuya Sukiyaki
しゃぶしゃぶ食べ放題 しゃぶ家 なんばパークス店
Phone: 06-4396-1729
Namba Parks 6th Floor, 2-10-70,
Nanbanaka, Naniwa-ku,
Osaka-shi, Osaka, 556-0011
Menu & More Info from Gurunavi
Click to see their Japanese calling card!

Japan is convenience store heaven. There’s literally a shop in every corner. The hotel I’m in is surrounded by Family Marts – there are two here indirectly across each other at just 20 paces apart. When I travel, I like digging through groceries and convenience shops just to look around and sample the wares.

Japan Convenience Store
The Haagen Dazs Caramel Classic Crispy Sandwich is something I look for every time I’m in Japan.

Japan Convenience Store
My mom says it reminds her of sansrival. The wafer is really light and airy, the sides are coated in what tastes like caramel flavored white chocolate and the ice cream in the center is Haagen Dazs caramel – which is my fave.

Japan Convenience Store
Saw this on the shelf and I thought – Laughing Cow x Royce – not at all a bad idea.

Japan Convenience Store
Packaging is spot on Laughing Cow.

Japan Convenience Store
But the taste? Oh, man it tastes really effin’ weird – like chocolate flavored cream cheese. Not my thing.

Japan Convenience Store
I’ve been having a hard time finding Bikkle around here – this actually was not from a convenience shop but from the vendo. It’s a yogurt drink that’s a lot like Yakult but isn’t very sweet which is why I like it so much. Been searching far and wide, inside every Family Mart, Lawson and 7-11 only to find no Bikkle – so to the overpriced vendo it is – look for Suntory. Strange times we live in.

Ikinari Steak

We found Ikinari Steak accidentally as we were walking through the streets of America-mura. Here in Osaka, it’s a pretty young area to be in – lots of little interesting shops, most of the American fast food chains are here, vintage shops, specialty bike shops, record stores, etc. Anything with the word STEAK in it appeals to me. I’m a carnivore through and through even if I’m not necessarily proud of it.

Ikinari Steak

We stopped by the door to read the signboards – it somehow looked a lot like Pepper Lunch. Meh, we thought, dismissing it at first since the thought of eating in a chain-type restaurant didn’t appeal to us. Mayabang. We walked around s’more and couldn’t get the steak out of our minds so we found our way back.

Ikinari Steak
The restaurant was smokey as hell! And we were surprised to find that there weren’t any chairs!

Ikinari Steak
When we got there, we found out that we had to order our steaks at the counter. I was surprised to find that the ribeye was the cheapest cut. That’s usually what I get so I was thrilled at this fact.

Ikinari Steak
The minimum order for a ribeye steak was 300 grams so this great butcher-chef man cut me a perfect piece.

Ikinari Steak
Weighing 305 grams, I was informed that I’d be charged ¥1,977 (Php 711) which is kind of a bargain for this beautiful cut. Just look at the marbling on that thing, jeez!

Ikinari Steak
We waited patiently as the steaks were grilled. I think it took about 10-15 minutes to get our orders out. Or longer I don’t know. I felt tired standing around.

Ikinari Steak
And then it was ready! The steak was evenly grilled, seasoned to perfection (just salt and pepper), topped with garlic butter and toasted garlic chips and served on a bed of buttered corn and onions.

Ikinari Steak
I ordered some garlic rice (¥200/Php 72) on the side and found that their version tasted just like Pepper Lunch’s beef pepper rice. So good.

Ikinari Steak
As requested, the steak was cooked to a perfect medium – just the way I like it. It’s really so tender and because of all that marbling it literally melts in your mouth. This was cooked so well – it’d pass Masterchef standards.

Ikinari Steak
The aftermath. They also have this soy-based steak sauce in a pitcher that you can slather your meat with – chose not to use it cause it made the dish too salty for my taste. I took the big fat bits off and chose not to eat them because I’ve been literally eating everything in sight so this kind of lessens the guilt?

The ribeye at Ikinari Steak is surprisingly one of the best steaks I’ve ever had. I never imagined that a fast-food high quality steak restaurant could ever exist but here it is and it’s strange and perfect. Can you believe they have a wine menu in there? Somehow, not having a place to sit didn’t bother me as much once I started eating. If you ever find yourself in Japan and you don’t care about smelling like grilled beef, give it a shot and tell me your thoughts.

Ikinari Steak
Stage 9 Building,
1-8-15 Nishi-Shinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06-6120-9129
Subway: Shinsaibashi
Opening Hours:
11am-11pm (Lunch 11am-3pm on Weekdays only)
Click for Directions

Bau House Dog Cafe - Seoul

When I got home from Seoul, my mom said “Mukhang yinakap mo lahat ng aso doon ah! (looks like you hugged all the dogs there)” to which I said, “I love them all and I love Korea because they love dogs”. I couldn’t leave without visiting a dog cafe. We found Bau House accidentally on the way back home from trying to locate a famous Korean BBQ restaurant that ceased to exist, close to the Hapjeong station. Through the window, we saw a neat looking cafe with lots and lots of happy dogs so we said we’d be back.

Bau House Dog Cafe - Seoul

And back we were. The nice thing about Bau House is that it’s a big cafe with two divisions. Up front is where the small dogs hang out and out back is where the medium to large size dogs are.

Bau House Dog Cafe - Seoul

So here’s the drill, to hang around the adorable dogs, each person has to order at least one drink and with that you can stay as long as you want. The drinks are about 8000 won (about $8) and even if they’re pricey, they’re actually pretty good. Liana and I had a Banana Yogurt Shake while Carina had a cuppa coffee.

Bau House Dog Cafe - Seoul

The dogs there were all pretty sweet, they go up to you, sniff you, beg to be pet and sit on your lap. The dogs also mostly speak Korean but once in a while you’ll meet one who responds to ‘sit’. When we got there, these two dogs flocked to Carina to sandwich her.

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When I’m in another country, the first thing I do is look for a convenience store or a grocery to explore. I could spend an entire day at the grocery, noting the differences in produce, learning about the things that fill up their shelves. I wonder about their local fruits, how their meat looks, the kind of fish available, the spices and mixes, the ready-to-eat section and of course, the snacks. Convenience store shopping is something I do almost ritually when I’m abroad. It’s sort of become this obsession to discover the next awesome foreign snack or drink.

Seoul Mini Mart Finds

I gage how affordable staying in a certain country is based on how much they sell a liter of mineral water at the convenience store. In Seoul, a bottle costs 900 won which is equal to Php 36. I learned that on day one. Not bad.

They have a whole lot of different convenience stores in Seoul and each of the stores have a different selection. The one closest to us was 7-11 but there’s also GS25, CVS CU Later, Family Mart, Mini-Stop, etc. It never ends.

Seoul Mini Mart Finds
I tend to gravitate towards Yakult-like drinks everywhere. Among the three I tried, this was the absolute best. Unlike Thailand and Japan, Korea doesn’t serve their probiotic drinks in bigger bottles. This was about 500 won.

Seoul Mini Mart Finds
Wasn’t hot on kimchi until I found this inside a GS25 freezer – Spam with Kimchi Fried Rice for about 3500 won.

Seoul Mini Mart Finds
After 3 minutes in the microwave, you get all of this junk. Beautiful. It was such a perfectly honest dish, I scarfed down the whole thing for breakfast while Carina was in the shower. I find this frozen meal to be great because it delivers what it promises. It’s simple and straightforward and that’s what I like when it comes to food. You get a generous helping of Spam with a possibly pedestrian tourist friendly version of Kimchi rice. Nothing too sour or aggressively spicy, just enough.

Seoul Mini Mart Finds
This trip’s new discovery – Samjak-Kimbap, also popularly known as Onigiri in Japan. Samjak-Kimbap is basically triangular shaped Korean fried rice, wrapped in dried seaweed (nori). These go for about 800 won and come in different interesting flavors. The ones I tried and enjoyed were the Tuna Kimchi Rice, Fire Chicken Rice, Jeonju Bibimbap, Chicken Galbi Rice and Beef Galbi Rice. In some shops, the wrappers didn’t have any English translation so we’d just hope for the best.

Seoul Mini Mart Finds
Seoul has a great instant noodle selection and since I’m more drawn to instant pancit than I am to instant ramen, I decided to get my staple: Paldo’s Bibim Men. This is both sweet and spicy but not in the overpowering way that you can’t taste anything else. This was 1200 won in 7-11.

Seoul Mini Mart Finds
The serving’s big, noodles are perfectly bouncy. And you can find this in SM grocery stores in Manila for about Php 38. Go try it please.

You might be wondering why I didn’t go and try other pancits in Korea. I actually did once but it was just too spicy I failed to document the entire experience. I kind of died not being able to feel my tongue cause. My basic tourist tip is to avoid black and red packaging with chillis on them if you don’t want your mouth to burn.

Seoul Mini Mart Finds
We were fortunate enough to have a kitchenette in the apartment we were renting so when we were at HomePlus, one of the bigger grocery stores in Seoul, we bought two bags of Bibigo Korean Royal Court Dumplings at a buy one take one deal for about 7000 won. There were about 20 dumplings per bag so this was practically a steal.

Seoul Mini Mart Finds
Carina boiled them to perfection and we had them for two days worth of breakfast. These dumplings tasted like a mix between gyoza and kuchay dumplings – pork with chives but with noodles in them. Yummy. We ate these with no soy sauce but they were still so tasty.

Seoul Mini Mart Finds
It was cold one day so I opened the ‘warmer’ (aka opposite of a ref) and pulled out this interesting looking drink. I’m guessing it’s Black Soybean Milk. It was comforting and tasted like a combination of black sesame and soy milk.

That concludes this post. I thought I took more photos of the other things I ate and drank but I guess I decided to ‘live’ more than I remembered to document. I suppose that is a good thing? Tell me about what you eat when you’re abroad? Which country has the best probiotic drink? Japan’s Bikkle still takes the cake for me.

maps

So the blog’s been kind of quiet lately. It’s cause I’ve been out of the country travelling for a while. It’s funny, because I haven’t touched my laptop in over a month I had to get my password reset cause I couldn’t figure it out. Got home last night from a month long New York visit so I have a lot of posts coming up, hopefully I get to weed through the 10GB of photos I snapped.

Chillin at the Park

Before crossing continents, I actually also spent the first week of April in Japan so I have a bunch of Osaka-based posts lined up as well so check this space from time to time.

I kind of get overwhelmed just thinking of all the pictures I have to sort thorough but whatever, I’ll get that done in time. For now, here are some photos from both trips just to give ya’ll an idea of what’s to come.

Sukiyaki Udon

Gion Yutaka Chef

Matsusaka

Fushimi Inari

Empty ramen bowls

st anselm

tourist

shake shack