The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Adventurous dining in Osaka (blowfish)

After a brief ride in the giant ferris wheel in Tempozan, we wandered around inside the Marketplace in search for dinner. The place offered many dining opportunities, but most of them were quite unappealing to us, serving fast-food types. The more decent restaurants were located on the second or third floors, and it was here we found a nice restaurant that served Japanese food ranging from sushi to nabemono (hotpot). It wasn't anything fancy, but we weren't looking for more than just good food and perhaps good service. It was a cold windy evening, and nabemono appealed very much to us.

Rob waiting for the water to boil:

We ordered Tecchiri, which, we were informed by the friendly waitress, was a nabemono specialty of Osaka. This dish contained fish, but we didn't know the type of fish used. Truth be told, I wasn't all that bothered by not knowing, since I am always eager to try out the regional specialties (dining in Japan for the past six months has taught me to "try now and find out later" because Q+A exchanges between us and the waiters isn't a simple affair due to the language barrier). So what is the fish in tecchiri? I only just (as in a few minutes ago) found out that the fish is fugu, a type of highly toxic puffer/blow fish. Hm, I wonder whether we would have ordered this, had we known that consuming the toxin found in some parts of the fugu results in paralysis and eventually death from asphyxiation. Haha, of course we would have!

How was it? Well, it was very bone-y. I remember that while I was eating it, I was actually thinking that the chefs must be cutting costs and using fish bones for this dish. Now I know better. There's a good reason why we don't keep any blowfish caught while fishing. The fishmeat had a mild taste and a somewhat delicate texture.

Tecchiri - yep, those are the deadly fugu pieces:

We also ordered Shabu shabu, since Rob had never tried it before. I thought this was quite nice for the price (I've had better slices of beef in shabu shabu, but then I did pay a lot more for it).

Shabu shabu:

As always, our meal wasn't complete without finishing off with something sweet. There were a few dessert options at this restaurant, including orange sorbet, tofu cheesecake and tofu icecream. We were curious about the tofu icecream, but it turned out that it was nothing more special than ice cream made with soy milk (which makes sense but I guess Rob was hoping that it was made with tofu).

Soy ice cream:

Although our first encounter with Haagen-Dazs was at least two years ago in Hong Kong, we never had a chance to try it. This time, despite already having had the tofu icecream, Rob held me to my promise that we will one day try it. And not just one scoop, but two scoops! One of each of hazelnut and chocolate which was an excellent combination of flavours. The icecream was nice, kinda similar to the type of icecream available at Gelare. I still prefer gelato - oh, how I miss Il Gelato and Gelatissimo.

Haagen-Dazs double scoop icecream - I was waiting eagerly to devour the wafer cone after Rob was done with the icecream:

There are still so much to see and experience in Osaka, and I can see us returning for a couple more short visits. It is unusual for us to visit the same place multiple times (my travelling motto is to experience new things as much as possible), but we really like Osaka and are willing to make an exception for it.

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