Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tako-Yaki Town - Loathing

We headed off to find some more food related fun. Thankfully it was not yet time for "tako-yucky", but it would be coming soon. And I was still not looking forward to it. We were off to find the street where we could find anything and everything we could need to start a restaurant. We would be able to find the little plastic models that sit outside of eateries; big red lanterns or any of the myriads of other restaurant needs be they knives, pans or even a tako-yaki pan. Well maybe not that. We wandered the long way to find the street we were looking for, but eventually we found it. It was as amazing as I imagined it could be. We had fun looking into the different stores with all their varied wares and interesting things that we could ever desire. I really wanted to get one of the big red cylindrical lanterns with the word ramen written in Japanese on the side but they are rather expensive. I settled instead for a cloth banner with the kanji for okonomiyaki written down the front and another with the symbol for our favorite summer time treat, kaki-gori. We also bought a little daruma doll that is quite cute. We continued to wander the streets putting off the inevitable.

I still did not want to eat those fried dough balls with their pencil eraser middle. We walked until we could not put it off any longer. I mean we did not want to eat a snack so late that we would ruin our dinner. Especially when the plan was to have ramen. We found a place to bite the bullet, a gross one at that, after putting it off so long that it actually felt good to rest our weary feet.

Often times tako-yaki is sold at little roadside booths that consist mostly of a special grill and a bunch of bowls of ingredients. This place ended up even having a small area with tables and a counter along the wall tucked back in the building behind the grill. We bought our eight tako-yaki balls and headed off to the seating section to load them up with toppings. Maybe we would even have the courage to eat them. Every time we have tried to eat a full order we have stopped short. The first time Jenny and I each ate one and had to stop. We tried again and that time I managed to choke down one and that was as far as we got. I was fine with never eating them again, but Jenny just would not let it rest. It seemed to me that we always had to try them “one more time”. Everybody here eats them all the time, and I don't even really like fried octopus balls (no, not those kind of balls). School children gape in amazement when I tell them that I don't like them. It would be like someone telling an American kid that you hate mac & cheese. This was our opportunity to have the best tako-yaki that we could hope for since Osaka is famous throughout all of Japan for its tako-yaki. So we gave them one last try. I will admit that these were the best that I have ever eaten. I will also say that they were probably the last ones I will ever eat. They were okay, but I am still not a fan. I guess that Japan and I will have to agree to disagree on the whole tako-yaki thing.

We decided that it was time to head back to the train station and get some dinner and head home. We headed off to Osaka station where we were going to attempt to find a ramen restaurant that did not appear on any map. We had read a review of the chain and wanted to try their noodles. Then we found out that a branch restaurant existed in Osaka we hunted it down. That is exactly what we had to do, hunt. We wandered the streets looking for this elusive beast. I was growing grumpy to say the least from the lack of finding, but Jenny urged us to go that extra mile. In reality we did not need to travel such a long distance. The restaurant was actually very close to the spot where we started our search. We just took the long way in getting there.

We walked in and found a seat at the table that looked like a polished slab of a tree. I ordered us two bowls of their noodles and soup. It was called Akamaru Kasane-aji. This ramen had a small red ball of deep-roasted fragrant oil. The idea is that the red ball enhances the experience by making the eater take time to savor the food rather than just eating. The Akamaru Umamidama, or flavor savor ball as it is called really did add a great flavor to the soup. We swirled the soup around with our chopsticks and mixed the oils into the broth. We ate our noodles with giant slurps of delight and joy. It ranked up there as the best bowl of ramen we have had. I was sad because I was to full for their gyoza, which looked delicious.

After dinner we headed back to the station, but not before a pit stop at 31 Flavors for some ice cream. Logan indulged in his all time favorite flavor called matcha green tea. Jenny and I had some random flavor that is not green tea. It was while sitting at the table in Baskin Robbins that we realized that we lost one of our shopping bags. Jenny asked for the bag of paper balloons that we had just bought at the subway station. It was gone. She had bought some little paper balloons that looked like animals. Worse than the loss of the balloons was the loss of the sucker. Jenny also found a little treat for me in a little poop lollipop. That is correct, she bought me a chocolate lolli that was in the shape of a little pile of poop. Needless to say I was very disappointed as I was looking forward to eating shit.

After ice cream it was time to head home. We left the bright lights and crowded streets of the big big city behind for the bright lights and crowded streets of our little town. Not all that much changed, but it felt good to be home.

No comments: