Saturday, January 18, 2014

Okonomiyaki? Ok.

Leaving Kyoto to go to Osaka was like leaving a museum to go to a Chuck E. Cheese.  Kyoto = temple, gardens, and lots of history.  Osaka = food and wacky modern buildings.  We only decided to come to Osaka because it was on the way to the airport.  But we don't regret it one bit.

Our first night at the hostel, we asked the front desk for a place to eat a local specialty.  They led us to a hole in the wall serving Okonomiyaki.  The name means something like, "whatever you want."  But that is not very helpful or creative.  They were described to us as pizza.  I think they should be called Grillcakes.  Flour, cabbage, sauce, and toppings, made to order.

The owner of the place was surprised and happy to have foreigners in his shop.  He pulled out his English menus and we pointed at the toppings we wanted.  He made the Okonomiyaki in front of us, frying the batter on the griddle like a pancake, throwing on the squid, shrimp, mayo, and seaweed, and flipping them skillfully.

They were amazing!  A crusty escape in a land of squishy noodles and rice.  The fun part is you get to eat them off a little griddle on the middle of your table.  We got a little plate and a trowel each, and hacked off steaming mouthfuls. Every bite was fresh as the first.

If you're in Osaka, look up Chitose restaurant near Shin-Imamiya station.  The owner got to talking with us while we ate.  He told us that he heard the United States is very cold.  He saw on TV a story where an American prisoner escaped, and then decided to run back to jail because warmth felt better than freedom.  I think I missed that news story.  But Japan has felt pretty cold too, for this American, and now it's time to soak up some warmth in Cambodia.  See you tomorrow, Phnomh Penh!

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