Great Ramen in Japan

This bowl of seemingly simple noodles was extraordinary. It looked like every other restaurant on the street, but what a dish! The pork was so soft and tasty, the noodles al dente, and plenty of green onion. I was so happy eating this.

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So great, look at the sesame seeds and bubbles of tastiness floating there.

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The left dish was egg wrapped around rice and drowned in a gelatinous goop (tastes better than my accurate description). The right dish was a pretty good ramen soup, but not nearly as good as that first one.

People in Osaka

The streets of Japan are eerily clean, almost as if it was cleaned for a obsessive recluse who they were trying to lure outside. There are bicycles putzing along, freshly washed Toyota’s, Honda’s and Mazda’s gleaming down the road and plenty of street food vendors. It has mountains visible from all angles. And, just like any big city, surprises around every corner.

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Look at that street! Good lines, no trash, no illegal parking, well done Japan.

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Look at that cat! So fluffy and cute, he ran away before we could touch him.

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Look at those cheeks! Mom is so happy and proud of her munchkins.

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These guys were rail-thin, and looked at their phones as they crossed the street.

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Bikes and buildings everywhere.

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Takoyaki–octopus fried with flour. I kept saying, “I’ll try it later, I’ll try it later.” And then I never tried it.

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I taught Jordyn how to make a fist and she punched me very hard and accurately. Something about a boxing gym makes people want to fight.

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The old guy bought us some sushi on the street and so we followed him back to his bar where we met his crazy wife who talked constantly and laughed loudly like a Japanese Fran Drescher. We drank several bottles of sake here.

I was impressed with the friendliness of the Japanese people. They didn’t bow as much as I thought they would, but they emphatically say “Hai” whenever you ask a question imparting such a sense of importance of your question, “Where is the bus stop?”

Osaka Castle

Back during the time when the Japanese were tormenting the Korean peninsula in the late 16th century, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the king of Japan, began construction on his massive castle. The base stones are enormous, the gilded perch is beautiful, the symmetry is calming and it gives off such a Japanese flavor of strength and sensibility. It’s both utilitarian and stylish. They had little 3D movies telling the story of the king and his people. Unfortunately, Japan was both at war with its neighbors as well as itself. So, the new shogun, Tokugawa, routed Hideyoshi and thereby took over the region. Tokugawa, in his new role as leader, built the almost identical structure of Nagoya Castle (about 60 miles from Osaka) probably to prove he could build betterĀ than his predecessor.

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Osaka Castle

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The Japanese know gardens.

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I can’t read the inscription, so maybe it was KIng Hideyoshi?

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Love the grey stone and grey sky.

First Food in Osaka

We pulled into Osaka rattled after a bumpy, thumpy flight over the South China Sea from Kuala Lumpur. Luckily, we booked a lovely place called Hotel Monterey which was connected to the subway. It was late, and Japanese go to bed early, so we rushed into the nearest tiny restaurant. The old businessmen were sitting and smoking beside crumpled napkins and the ruins of dinner. We ordered big. Everything was delicious and VERY different from the saucy SE Asia noodles and rice and much less spicy than Korean noodles and rice. It was just a small place so there was minimal attention paid to appearance, and more to the taste.

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Pork ribs, sweet BBQ flavor.

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Standard fried dumplings.

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Shrimp with beady eyes and spindly legs.

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We put some salty black sauce all over this dish. It was potato and veg mix inside.

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Some fresh bean sprouts in a delicate sauce.

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Pop an egg over anything for some added solidity.

This was such a great introduction to Japanese style food. All of these dishes could have been eaten even by the pickiest little eater.

We saw a little street food with Takoyaki- chopped octopus and veg cooked in those little ball molds.

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