Monday, March 14, 2016

Travel | Japan, Osaka: Kamukura Ramen and Kuromon Ichiba Markets


We wish we had spent a little more time in Osaka, as we found there was not only lots to do, but so much good food that we wanted to try!

Kamukura Ramen

There's something particularly inviting about this ramen shop, we're not sure why- but after walking past it the first time, we'd decided we'd find a time to try it out. So after searching for breakfast with no avail, we decide on waiting around for Kamukura to open (they opened at 11am).

There's two ordering machines outside- one traditional one in Japanese and one fancy touchscreen one with multiple languages. We couldn't figure out how to work the touchscreen menu so we resort back to choosing of photos on the traditional machine.

Gyoza (280yen)
The restaurant is set up with a large open kitchen in the middle and bar seating surrounding it. Everything is impeccably clean and organised.

The menu offers some "meal deals", which come with a side and interestingly a plain onigiri. I thought we were big eaters and all, but a bowl of ramen, side and a large ball of rice seems a bit much! We do enjoy the sides though- especially the gyozas, which have beautifully cooked golden crisp bottoms. We also tried the deep fried variety, but we're much more of a fan of the soft delicate skins on the pan fried version.

Karaage Chicken (300yen)

Perhaps not so much a breakfast food, any time of the day is a good time for fried chicken for me. Light and crunchy without being greasy, we wolf this down in no time.

Oishi noodle (650 yen)

And of course, the ramen.

Kamukura specialises in Shoyu (soy sauce) ramen, and we realise that the three different ramens that we ordered were all essentially the same, only with different toppings. The shoyu soup base is rather light, with the soy adding a light saltiness, without overdoing it. The Oishi noodle is the most basic ramen, with a topping of mostly chashu (barbecued pork) and a generous serving of Chinese cabbage that makes it rather reminiscent of a bowl of Chinese noodles.

Kuromon Ichiba Markets


We'd purchased an Osaka Amazing Pass (would definitely recommend for anyone visiting Osaka!) so we spent the day doing all the touristy stuff. But of course, I like to plan the day around food so we made a point to visit the Kuromon Ichiba Markets for lunch.


The vibe is quite touristy, with many more locals than tourists. There's a little bit of everything sold here from second hand electronics to homewares. And of course seafood. Lots of it too!

But before getting into the seafood, do try this soy milk store for a really unique soy milk. Quite unlike the soy milk we get at supermarkets here (which I find rather watery) or the Chinese soy milks (which are quite sweet), this soy milk is very thick, not sweetened and has a really strong fragrant soy flavour.


There's plenty of seafood stores to get your seafood fix but not all have seating. With plenty of tasty options everywhere, we had originally intended to buy a little here and there and eat them at the designated seating area. But finding a seat, even one, was like trying to find a parking spot in Sydney. Impossible.

So plan B it was- visit a store that had available seating!

Scallops (800 yen)

The grilled seafood stores are particularly enticing, with their display of fresh seafood. Scallops and oysters are priced according to size and we almost bought some massive scallops, but the last two were snagged by some other customers so we went to the store across for some big, but not so massive ones.

You can choose to have your seafood raw but most prefer grilled, which is done on a charcoal flame in front of you. The scallops are grilled with a squeeze of lemon juice and a light sear before being served. They're nice and fresh, but we can't help but think that the ones we had in Dotonbori the day before had a nicer taste and texture.

Oysters (400 yen each)

The oysters on display were pretty large too, so we decided to try them raw- which was not the best idea as they tasted rather fishy, especially in the belly area. Might give oysters a miss next time- I much prefer Sydney ones!

Salmon Nigiri (500 yen)

There's also quite a few sushi and sashimi restaurants and stores in the market, but this one drew large crowds when the manager came out with price reduction stickers. Oh the perks of coming in the late afternoon!

We grab a box of salmon nigiri, which has been marked down by 200 yen. It's nothing spectacular, but you can't really go wrong with salmon.

Assorted Sashimi (700 yen)

The assorted sashimi is great value, especially after having been marked down by 300 yen, and comes with some salmon, kingfish and scallops. Although it's probably been there since morning, it still tastes quite fresh with a nice delicate texture.

Tako Tamago (250 yen)

The tako tamago is something I'd been keen on trying in Osaka since reading about it online. Literally a quail egg stuffed inside a baby octopus and cooked in a sweet sauce- don't tell me you wouldn't want to try it too?

Unfortunately, this one I tried was cold and the octopus rather firm chewy. Can't say I'm sold.

Honeydew Melon Soft Serve (300 yen)

I am however, completely sold on these soft serves that I had almost daily in Japan. These come in individual tubs, and are pushed through the soft serve machine which magically turns them into a nice and fluffy soft serve. We tried the honeydew and green tea and loved both of them!

Strawberries

There's plenty of fruit shops in the market too, but like everywhere else in Japan, fruit is so expensive!


There's also a supermarket, which sells just about everything (they have a large seafood section of course). We spied these cute pre-packaged burgers and am wishing that we had bought one for taste testing purposes!


They also have an extensive range of bento boxes- and they're ridiculously cheap too!

Dotonbori Zero Cafe

We were keen on trying Japanese cafes, but they were quite difficult to find in the Dotonbori area, which has many more restaurants than cafes. We spot a large glowing sign for Dotonbori Zero Cafe and decide to give it a try.

Hazelnut Latte

It's located up narrow hidden staircase right across from an Indian restaurant. The cafe itself equally as narrow as the staircase but is small and cozy with coathangers for coats, and a nice collection of wine and figurines as decor. To make use of the narrow space, most tables are small and set for 2. Perhaps it's because we visited during quieter hours, but we're surprised to find that the whole place is run by one guy.

The menu is your typical Asian cafe fare- your standard coffees plus some Asian flavours, some cakes, desserts and light bites as well. We had high hopes for the coffee after having an amazing one at Gigi's but are disappointed to find it rather watery and bland.

Mixed Mushroom Omurice

We are however, pleasantly surprised at the omu rice, which comes with the rice under the egg rather than being wrapped in it. The egg is amazingly soft and fluffy, and the mixed mushrooms in gravy is seasoned perfectly to accompany the rice and egg.

Strawberry Parfait

The strawberry parfait looks quite extravagant, with the strawberry ice cream served in a cone on top! It's quite fiddly to eat though and we're not sure if it's supposed to be eaten together but it was much easier for us to pull out the cone and have them as if they were two separate desserts. The strawberry ice cream is nice and fresh, but we're not too fond of the parfait bit which has a little too much cream and strawberry sauce for our liking.

McDonald's

We'd attempted (and failed) yet again to find a good place to have breakfast, so the only choices we had were either Burger King (with no brekkie menu in sight) or Maccas. Nothing particularly interesting to report on Japanese McDonald's- the breakfast menu is almost the same as the Aussie version, only less than half the price. Oh and there's also green tea latte on the menu too (it tasted pretty bad).

We also spied lots of super skinny Japanese people eating ridiculously large amounts of food too. Who needs eating challenges when you can eat to your heart's content at Maccas eh?


The so called "Big Breakfast" was easily the most disappointing meal of my entire Japan trip- but then again it's Maccas- what did I expect? Essentially a deconstructed Sausage & Egg McMuffin, minus the cheese, with scrambled egg instead of fried and a side of jam all thrown into the box. Because plating is overrated.

But that's okay- at least it made more stomach space for more good eats once we got to Kyoto. More on that in my next Japan post!

Kamakura Ramen Shinsaibashi
Japan, 〒542-0071 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, 中央区道頓堀1丁目7−25
+81 6-6211-3790

Kuromon Ichiba Markets
2 542 0073, 2 Chome-4-1 Nipponbashi, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0073, Japan

Dotonbori Zero Cafe
1 Chome-6-14 Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan
+81 6-6213-7643
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