Planning visits to the Japanese cities of Osaka and Kyoto? Here are some recommendations on what to eat*. To view all the photographs (with the captions in full) of each city, click on any image and navigate using the left and right keys.
1. Upon arrival in Osaka, after we settled into our apartment in the Ebisuchō area, we headed out for late-night ramen and gyozas. And it was a great first meal. The chashu pork or braised pork in particular was charred very nicely.
2. For breakfast I tried the instant miso clam soup from the convenience store, because the soup was packaged with actual clams (!!!) A novel experience, but it was a little too salty.
3. The parents love the Japanese red bean pancakes. Those sold in Singapore are usually pasty with a small dollop of fillings, yet the ones we had in Osaka and Kyoto were crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, with generous servings of red bean, green bean, or even sweet potato (in Kyoto).
4. Mom posing with her takoyaki, a ball-shaped snack made of flour-based batter and filled with diced tako – or octopus – in front of the stall in Dōtonbori.
5. Along Dōtonbori was also a stall selling freshly-grilled scallops. Fresh, as the chef shucked the white flesh from its shell, returned it to the shell warming on a bed of charcoal, before marinating it with butter, garlic, and soya sauce.
6. A scallop, up close.
7. A wide selection of fish and seafood at the Kuromon Ichiba, or the Kuromon market. This is a treat for sashimi-lovers, but there is also the option of grilling the items and devouring them within the stall or along the streets of the market.
8. There is an ever wider selection of fresh fruits. Because we stayed in an apartment, with seven people, we bought back whole watermelons, honeydews, and peaches to share.
9. A serving of Kobe beef, from a stall further up the Kuromon Ichiba. Segments or stretches of the market offer different items, and it takes about half an hour to cover the entire market.
10. Stewed beef tripe, which comes from the lining of a cow’s stomach chambers, was sold by an enthusiastic lady. The tripe is topped with some onions and chilli powder.
11. I had my first taste of fresh uni, or sea urchin at the Kuromon Ichiba. It is an acquired taste, yet still in huge demand within the market.
12. After the hour-long fireworks at the Benten-shu Meioh-ji Temple and the subsequent trek down the hill, we had Japanese yakiniku – or grilled meat over a charcoal fire – at a nearby restaurant. In addition to the meat we also had seafood and vegetables.
13. Butterbeer was on sale at the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, in Universal Studios Japan, and it was a very sweet soft drink. It tastes like root beer with vanilla foam on the top.
14. Within Universal Studios Japan were many snacks shaped like cartoon characters. This is a savoury bun shaped like a minion, containing stewed meat.
15. With the wide selection on offer, we made a return trip to the Kuromon Ichiba a few evenings later, and bought a range of raw (oysters, tuna, uni, fish, and scallops) and cooked items (bento sets, scallops, salads, and Japanese pancakes) for dinner.
16. Our first meal in Kyoto was soba noodles – eaten hot or cold – and when we arrived at the restaurant the owner prepared the handmade buckwheat noodles from scratch.
17. Our lunch of soba noodles and other accompaniments.
18. In the same restaurant we had agedashi tofu – or lightly deep-fried tofu – which was topped with dried bonito flakes and presented in very intricate fashion.
19. Near the Gion district in Kyoto we had okonomiyaki, a Japanese savoury pancake with a number of ingredients and topped with sauce and mayonnaise.
20. Our traditional Japanese breakfast at the ryokan – or Japanese inn – we stayed in, consisting of tofu, eggs, miso soup, salad, rice, and other small dishes.
21. In the same inn, there was a daily tea-brewing session. The matcha green tea was prepared using a bamboo whisk, and then served in unique tea bowls.
22. Matcha mochi, or Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice, topped with red bean paste.
* Not an advertisement, and also not sponsored (unfortunately).