Cycle 5 – Item 147
1 (Sun) June 2014
-Chuo, Osaka, Japan-
Mission to Japan: Expert Consultation on Intersectoral Action on Health + Personal Deviation (Day 5)
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 was all about food. To maximize the opportunity, I stayed in the country an extra couple days – a “personal deviation” as per WHO parlance – in the neighboring city of Osaka.
Back in Manila.
Lotteria is an American-style fast food chain. Founded in Japan in 1972. The parent company Lotte was founded by a Korean national in Japan in 1948, starting out as a producer of chewing gum, growing into one of Korea’s largest conglomerates. The restaurants can now be found widely across Japan and Korea, where it enjoys more than 50% market share, as well as Taiwan, Viet Nam, and Myanmar. In addition to typical western burgers, the menus also offer Asianized versions, such as the shrimp burger, bulgogi burger, teriyaki burger, and other novelty items.
Lotteria had never even crossed my mind until passing by this location and seeing the poster for breakfast burgers. Not that I really wanted a burger, but I was curious to see how different the Japanese business is from the Korean counterpart.
Perhaps the best fast food burger that I’ve ever had, each component done just right. Soft and squishy bun, toasted + made-to-order fried egg, perfectly soft-cooked (probably wouldn’t be permitted in some countries due to safety concerns) + delectably soy-seasoned beef patty, seemingly comprised of fresh beef, judging by the moist and crumbly texture.
I was tempted to order another.
With the only flight to Manila departing in mid-afternoon, I only had time for lunch before heading off to the airport. Because I’d checked out of the hotel and had my luggage with me, mobility was limited, so I was inclined to go wherever was convenient.
After lunch, I went to Osaka International Airport (ITM) instead of Kansai International Airport (KIX). Despite the name, the former has handled only domestic flights since 1994, when the latter was opened for all international routes. I’d flown in through KIX, so I was well aware of the difference, but I just wasn’t thinking. To get to KIX in time to catch my flight back to Manila, I had to take a taxi, which cost JPY 22,000 (about USD 220).
To show how good the Japanese are in the culinary arts, the local suppliers have managed to make the in-flight meals on Philippine Airlines pretty decent.
GK informs me that this is what Swedes would call “läropengar = learning money:” a stupid mistake that costs money but imparts an unforgettable lesson.
He told me this in the context of his own stupid mistake. In our recent exchange of cooking ingredients, I’d sent the package to the wrong place because he had given me his former mailing address. After a couple weeks, when nobody had claimed it, the package was returned to Korea. I sent it again, this time by surface. Come to think of it, I had to pay for both shipments, so this was his mistake but the learning money came from me. Anyway, the package should get there in about 6 months
Running through KIX, I grabbed a few takeout items from a food stall (Blue Sky) to take back and eat at home, just to extend the Japanese experience just a bit longer.
2.76 average rating (by comparison Taipei was 2.5).
I was won over by the food and food culture. In particular, I was impressed that Osakans obviously take immense care and respect and pride into the preparation of every single dish, from cooking technique and plating presentation to the actual balance of flavors and textures. The only drawback is that the vast majority of establishments are Japanese, which may not be a drawback per se, but in contrast I did appreciate the multi-cultural variety that Singapore had to offer. Next time, if I stick to the items that I’ll be inclined to like, rather than experimenting, the ratings for Osaka would shoot through the roof.
(See also FAST FOOD)
(See also BOOZE)
(See also IN FLIGHT)
(See also GLOBAL FOOD GLOSSARY)
(See also RESTAURANTS IN JAPAN)