Jul 9, 2015

Japan Travelogue: Last Day of Exploring Osaka (27 Oct 2014)

Now that we had ticked off Osaka Castle, Dotonbori and Hozenji Yokocho Alley, that left us with Sumiyoshi Taisha, Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street, and Osaka Museum of Housing and Living. To start our day, we went to Nakau なか卯 again to have our fast fast, good good and cheap cheap breakfast.

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Udon with Rice Poppers? @ Nakau なか卯
I must say Nakau なか卯 was a gem. Despite the lack of English menu and English speaking staff, the food and service was superb. This random udon with these delicate rice poppers was equally amazing. The broth was flavorful and the udon had decent texture that outmatched most of the Japanese restaurant's in Malaysia.

Total Damage for 2 Pax = 500 yen

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Red Bean Manju @ Gozasouro's Taiko-manju 御座候 (85yen, tax inclusive)
After breakfast, we headed to ShinOsaka Station to board our train to Osaka Station (via JR Tokaido/Sanyo Main Line), followed by another (via JR Osaka Loop Line) to Shinimamiya Station, before boarding Nankai Main Line (210yen each) to Sumiyoshitaisha Station.

Right before we entered into ShinOsaka Station's platform, we saw Gozasouro's Taiko-manju 御座候 opening. For all you know, I have been wanting to try theirs but most of the time it was either not opening yet or closed for the day. Without much hesitation, we grabbed two pairs, one with red bean, another with white fillings which was more starchy.

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White Manju @ Gozasouro's Taiko-manju 御座候 (85yen, tax inclusive)
The outer layer was similar to those of apam balik's but soggier due to the heavy fillings. Mildly sweetened, it was a good choice for non sweet tooth. With so much expectation on these manjus, I found myself rather disappointed by the lack of contrast in overall texture.

Total Damage for 4 Manjus = 340yen

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Torii Gate @ Sumiyoshi Taisha 住吉大社
Being Shinto shrines, Sumiyoshi Taisha 住吉大社 is very similar to Fushimi Inari Shrine in many ways. Both shrines have torii gates marking the entrance of sacred ground at different directions, marking the borderline of shrine ground.

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Ema @ Sumiyoshi Taisha 住吉大社
Both shrines have Ema (as seen on the right in above picture), which is a sheltered wooden plaques bearing prayers and wishes.

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Entrance to Sumiyoshi Taisha 住吉大社
Both have Haiden (oratory, as seen in the centre of the above picture), where you can ring the Suzu and say your prayers.

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Blessing Corner @ Sumiyoshi Taisha 住吉大社
Both have blessing corners, where you can purchase a token and write your wishes or prayers on it.

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Honden @ Sumiyoshi Taisha 住吉大社
Last but not least, both have Honden (main hall, as seen on the right), fenced up by Tamagaki and surrounded by many sessha/massha (small auxiliary shrines) .

I must admit, what drew me to Sumiyoshi Taisha 住吉大社 is no other than their signature Honden donned in bright orange.

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Yours Sincerely @ Taiko bashi of Sumiyoshi Taisha 住吉大社
And this orange Taiko bashi too. There is something about this Taiko bashi that stirs up the mood of romance, which would not be a bad choice at all to bring your another half for a morning walk or evening stroll.

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Little Girl in Kimono @ Sumiyoshi Taisha 住吉大社
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Devotee @ Sumiyoshi Taisha 住吉大社
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People Watching @ Sumiyoshi Taisha 住吉大社
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Pigeon Stalking @ Sumiyoshi Taisha 住吉大社
If you are alone, you may also spend some time people watching, bird stalking or life pondering. People watching and pigeon stalking spoke well to me!

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Roasted Rice Tea on the Go @ Daily Yamazaki
After spending an hour plus at Sumiyoshi Taisha 住吉大社, we decided to move on to Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street. On the way to Sumiyoshitaisha Station, we grabbed this bottle of roasted rice tea at Daily Yamazaki.

It was totally recommended if you are looking to quench your thirst but wanting nothing sugary. I loved particularly the aroma that lingered around your tongue.

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Sumiyoshitaisha Station
Being a Monday afternoon, Sumiyoshitaisha Station was in its solitary mode. To go to Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street, we took Nankai line (150yen each) to Tengachaya Station, switched to Sakaisuji line (280yen each) to Tenjinbashisuji Rokuchome Station.

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Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street
Our goal of the day was to visit Osaka Museum of Housing and Living, which should be located at 8th floor of the Housing Information Center, just above Tenjimbashi-suji Rokuchome Station. Based on these pointers, we looked high and low for any likely indication to Osaka Museum of Housing and Living but to no avail.

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Lunch @ Kitano Hachi Bantei 北野八番亭
Needless to say, we ended up with tired feet and hungry stomach. Luckily, we found Kitano Hachi Bantei, which looked rather promising compared to the other restaurants (if they are opening at all!) along Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street.

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Chashu Ramen @ Kitano Hachi Bantei 北野八番亭
Kitano Hachi Bantei 北野八番亭 is similar to Nakau なか卯, whereby you have to order your food and pay at ticket vending machine, grab your tickets and wait for your food to be served.

The tanner half decided to try their chashu ramen, which was not bad at all! Though the broth was not very thick, it had the complexity of flavor, which complemented the ramen very well. The portion of chashu was smaller than we liked but it went along well with the rest.

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Niku Don @ Kitano Hachi Bantei 北野八番亭
I, on the other hand, opted for niku don. Small it may looked, I actually felt bloated finishing it. I loved the gloriously orange running yolk sitting atop of stir fry beef. A poke was all you need to unleash its gravy potential. Beef was quite decent, though its fat proportion was too much to my liking. To add another dimension of flavour, I added few dashes of chilies.

Total damage for 2 pax = 1,870yen (free flow of green tea, few pieces of fried chicken to go with each mains)

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Double Cheeseburger in Black Bun @ McDonald
After our filling lunch, we proceeded to explore Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street. To our dismay, it was almost empty on Monday afternoon. 6 hours gone by and we ended up buying nothing. As we stumbled across McDonald, we made up of our mind quick enough to end our day with some local McDonald meals.

Double cheeseburger is one of the most value for money meals in Malaysia and same could be said in Japan. Coincidently McDonald was running their black and white burger promotion, so I had my double cheeseburger in black.

Bun aside, the double cheeseburger was no different than Malaysia's but the bun made all the difference though. Not only it was soft and fluffy, it was not dry at all.

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Sweet Potato McFlurry @ McDonald
Currently in season was sweet potato McFlurry. Since we had none in Malaysia, we grabbed one to try too! Similar to my double cheeseburger, the ice cream was no different than Malaysia's. The taste of mashed sweet potatoes was subtle yet somehow I liked the fact that it was not too sweet.

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Red Bean Pie @ McDonald
Besides McFlurry, we also grabbed their red bean pie for dessert. The pie was crusty and crispy, which I found much better done than Malaysia's. Similar to sweet potatoes, red bean pie was not too sweet yet of substance. I would like a little more sugar in this though.

Total damage for 2 pax = 1,740yen (for 2 double cheeseburger set meals + sweet potatoes McFlurry + red bean pie)

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Our Last Dessert (128yen) in Osaka
We spent some time resting our feet in McDonald until our feet regained some strength to move on. Before we finally retreated to our hotel, we made a quick detour to nearby Lawson to window shop and ended up buying this ice cream cone to end our final night in Osaka.

Our overall 4-night stay in Hotel Consort was excellent. Not only the price was fantastic (less than RM200 per night), the 14 sq m twin room was the largest among our budget stays in Japan. Room was very clean and well equipped. Bedding was top notch comfort. The only downside was the air conditioning was down for maintenance for last night of our stay and we were quite frustrated that it was not highlighted upon our check in.

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Ciaoz!
Oh well, let's suck it up and sleep well, for Fuji awaits!

IN SUMMARY,

My personal dining ranking (5 being the full score) based on following criteria are:
  • Ambiance
    • Nakau なか卯 - 3/5
    • Kitano Hachi Bantei 北野八番亭 - 3/5
    • McDonald - 3/5
  • Price
    • Nakau なか卯 - 5/5
    • Kitano Hachi Bantei 北野八番亭 - 5/5
    • McDonald - 4/5
  • Food
    • Nakau なか卯 - 4/5
    • Kitano Hachi Bantei 北野八番亭 - 4/5
    • McDonald - 3/5
  • Verdict
    • Nakau なか卯 - Decent meals at cheap price tags
    • Kitano Hachi Bantei 北野八番亭 - Another "Nakau" for some cheap and decent meals!
    • McDonald - Interesting promo items which were worth the try
My personal attraction verdicts for:
  • Sumiyoshi Taisha 住吉大社 - A good place to spend your chilly morning, be it for dating, people watching, prayers or for life pondering
  • Osaka Museum of Housing and Living - I simply couldn't locate it!
  • Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street - I would advise you to go on weekends for more activities!

DINING INFO:

Nakau なか卯
淀川区西中島3-23-9, Osaka, Ōsaka, Japan
Operation Hours: Likely to be 24 hours
Tel: Not available
Credit Cards: No (Payment is made at self service meal ticket vending machine)

Kitano Hachi Bantei 北野八番亭
3 Chome-2-23 Tenjinbashi, Kita Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 530-0041, Japan
Tel: +81 6-6357-0341
Credit Cards: No (Payment is made at self service meal ticket vending machine)

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