Cycle 5 – Item 145
30 (Fri) May 2014
(Grand Front Osaka)
-Kita, Osaka, Japan-
Mission to Japan: Expert Consultation on Intersectoral Action on Health + Personal Deviation (Day 3)
In Osaka. My first duty travel! Dispatched to the World Health Organization Centre for Health Development (aka “WHO Kobe Centre” aka “WKC”), where I attended the Expert Consultation on Intersectoral Action on Health. For GMTD purposes, the trip is all about food. To maximize the opportunity, I’ll be staying in the country an extra couple days – a “personal deviation” as per WHO parlance – in the neighboring city of Osaka, where the food is reputed to be legendary.
After the consultation wrapped this afternoon, I hopped on a train/subway to Osaka, a quick 20-minute ride from Kobe.
Adjacent to Osaka Station is Grand Front Osaka, a department store, home to many restaurants.
I hadn’t planned on this personal deviation to Osaka being another installment of the Diet series (see previously ), but it may as well, given the the city’s rich and proud food culture.
Fukutaro was on MK’s brochure.
Fukutaro is a chain of Japanese restaurant-pubs. Multiple locations in and around Osaka. The house specialties are okonomiyaki and yakisoba, both available with a wide variety of meats (e.g., pork belly, beef) and/or seafoods (e.g., squid, scallop).
Okonomiyaki is one of Osaka’s signature dishes.
When I got there, around 2015, the place was packed to capacity. Being a drinking establishment, customers weren’t in a big hurry to eat and run, so I had to wait 30 minutes just to be seated. With many others also patiently queued, it seemed worth the wait.
An example of Japanese efficiency, they took my order in advance and timed the cooking so that the pancake was ready right as I took my seat.
Sadly, my first authentic okonomiyaki was disappointing. The texture was unpleasantly wet and mushy. Upon first bite, I thought that it hadn’t been fully cooked yet, requiring more time to finish on the grill. But the cook had been checking for doneness by cutting tiny peekaboo incisions throughout the process, and he looked as though he’d made millions of them in his lifetime, so it didn’t appear to be an error. Indeed, everyone else was digging in immediately. Flavor, I don’t know, I couldn’t get past the texture. I’ll have to try the dish somewhere else to determine whether this is generally how it’s supposed to be.
The rest of the food was also kinda meh.
After a long walk from the subway station to the hotel, I was hungry again.
Fortunately, the hotel is host to Honana, a teppan dining bar (more on the hotel tomorrow).
Another example of efficiency: the menu was an iPad application, in both Japanese and English, allowing customers to click on their choices, automatically relayed to the kitchen. The order history and final bill could also be viewed on an on-going basis.
BTW, I’m not ordering the kimuchi/kimchi at every meal because I’m one of those Koreans that has to have Korean food all the time. I’m pleasantly surprised to find that it appears to be totally mainstream here – I’ve seen it on menus everywhere – and curious to see what it’s like.
I sat there, munching on the goodies, sipping various Japanese whiskies, updating the blog, until they kicked me out at 03000.
(See also BOOZE)
(See also GLOBAL FOOD GLOSSARY)
(See also RESTAURANTS IN JAPAN)