Daruma Kushiage: Food on a Stick in Osaka

There is a special place in my heart for food served on a stick: corn dogs, lollipops or perfectly grilled yakitori, it’s just a great and easy way to put food into your mouth.  So it pretty obvious that I had to try kushiage on my last visit to Osaka.

Kushiage or Kushikatsu is a speciality of Osaka.  The idea is simple: impale some food on a bamboo stick, dip it in batter, deep fry it very carefully and serve it burning hot . It’s the perfect bar food!

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Link: Caffeine Heaven in the Osaka

Coffee is addictive and finding a place to drink some is  even more addictive.

I’ve drank coffee pretty much every where I ever been and my last visit to Osaka brought me to Link Handmade Roast Coffee just off the popular Shinsaibashi.

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Poko Bagel: the cure for home sickness

Have you ever been away from home for a very long time? I’ve now been away from Montreal since late July 2008 and I’ve noticed that what I miss the most from back home is food.  Maple syrup, smoked meat and poutine seem to be part of my DNA.

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Jean-Georges on the Bund

There is something about the Bund that gives Shanghai a special feel, like catching a glimpse of the Eiffel tower in Paris or walking on the Brooklyn bridge with the Manhattan skyline in plain view.

During my stay in Shanghai, I just kept going back for a stroll on the Bund and I decided to find a place to eat on the Bund.   The restaurant Jean-Georges located at No 3 in the Union Building immediately caught my attention.

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Nanxiang steamed bun restaurant

I really don’t need a lot of convincing and arm twisting in order to go try a new dumpling shop.  Nanxiang steamed bun restaurant is probably one of the most famous restaurant in Shanghai. After watching an episode  of  No Reservations,  I knew I really had to try this place.

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Yang’s Fry-Dumpling

Is it food?  Is it delicious torture?  I guess that Yang’s Fry-Dumpling could fall in both categories.  Let’s make one think clear from the get go, I like my food spicy, but before coming to Shanghai I had never dealt with food so “molten lava” hot.

Yang’s Fry-Dumpling wins the palm for the hottest food in Shanghai.  This shengjianbao dumpling restaurant is a Shanghai institution and comes  highly recommended all over the internet so I was really curious to get a taste of these famous dumplings.

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First night in Shanghai

I doubt this is politically correct, but I left for Shanghai humming the tune “I Like Chinese” by the Monty Python. I briefly studied the city of Shanghai at university when I took an intro to urban studies, so I was always curious to see this city with my own eyes. China is moving  fast and I was becoming afraid that I would not be able to catch a glimpse of Shanghai with it’s old shikumen (traditional 2 or 3 stories buildings) since they are being destroyed at an alarming rate.

I had 2 other reasons to visit Shanghai.  First, the Shanghai Expo 2010 will be over this October and secondly I wanted to eat real Chinese food in China. My conception of Chinese food like almost everybody has been dictated by the worldwide interpretation of original homeland dishes by the ever-growing diaspora of Chinese chefs.

A first meal in a new city or a new country is like a  first kiss.  Would it be something memorable or just a speed bump on the road to unfulfilled desires.

I took the  Maglev train into the center of Shanghai, nothing like a futuristic floating train to put you in the mood.   Finding my hotel on East Jingling Road turned out to be a lot easier than I expected. Shanghai is pretty easy to navigate with its grid design.

From my hotel, my first destination was the  Bund with its view on the hyper-modern Pudong skyline.

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Tottori pear and Izushi soba

How far would you drive for food?

I woke up last Sunday with no intentions of going further than the couch, but I ended up going on a 500 km car ride just for the sake of buying Japanese pears and eating the famous Izushi soba.

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Hiranoya Okonomiyaki

Before I came to Japan, I had never eaten a okonomiyaki.  This all changed on my first visit to Hiroshima city and since then I’ve been trying to find great okonomiyaki places.

Hironoya is one of them and according to my co-workers, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Hironoya is located in Fuchu city, just outside of Fukuyama. Fuchu is not a big place, but there is a small country road that pretty much goes from my village in the mountains all the way to this okonomiyaki shop.  The route 417 is one tight scary road barely larger than my miniature Japanese car.

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Toraya

Mizushima is not a pretty place. This part of my wife’s home town of Kurashiki is down right ugly to be honest with you.  Mizushima is the home of JFE steel mill, Mitsubishi and Asahi Kasei just to name a few.  On the border of this industrial wasteland, lay the commercial center of Mizushima with its main street that hasn’t seen any revitalisation plan since the Edo period.  Yet, I found the chinese restaurant Toraya amid a sea of seedy snack bars.

I am in heaven and it’s only 10 min from my wife’s house!

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Vittorio Pizza shop

Pizza, pizza, I want to eat a pizza!

I got hit by a violent craving for pizza yesterday.  I sat all day at work revisiting my favorite pizza: New York pizza, Montreal 1$ slice after a night out drinking, my favorite spot in Paris on rue des Canettes or the numerous pizza I ate in Italy.

Having so many references doesn’t help me appreciate Japanese pizza since I find most of them blend and topped with corn and other items which I believe don’t belong on a proper pizza.

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