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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Horumon soba, Hello Kitty and lots of yaki

Sometimes you find the tastiest treats when you least expect them. A poky little noodle underneath a railway station. A man smiling inside. Lots of Japanese and a huge pot of simmering broth that certainly smells delicious.

And so we tried our first bowl of horumon soba. "It looks a little like corned beef" said Veruca, then took her first mouthful. Soft squidgy bits of brown and mouthfuls of pure fat greeted us at 9.30am. "What is this?" we asked the quiet chef. "Cow" he said, and rubbed his stomach area. We think it was lungs and maybe a few squeezes of artery fat. The fat was faaatttty. I ate one and shuddered. I could not do any more.

The broth was tasty though, and it certainly felt good for you (apart from the fat). Veruca was still a little traumatised. At least it was cheap at 310 yen per bowl. I think at that price, Veruca thought it was still far too high a price to pay.

It was a huge walking day today. We explored Kuromon Ichiba, the fruit, vegetable and seafood market. We spotted plenty of puffer fish (live and ready-sashimi-ed), live turtles and whale bacon too. At Dotombori, also known as Kitchen Alley, we revelled in the enormous collection of restaurant equipment including commercial stoves, takoyaki makers, lanterns, restaurant signs, noodle bar banners, aprons, pots, cookie cutters, turning slicers, mountains of crockery, plastic food models and more. I purchased a Hello Kitty waffle iron. I couldn't resist.

Lunch was at an upmarket chain plain called The. My rice bowl included salmon roe - full of briny goodness - and the sea urchin roe was super creamy and rich.

We walked down the covered arcade of shops along Shinsaibashi suji (the Hello Kitty shop never fails to amaze), saw the cool kids (hello fake tans, foils and mullets) at America-Mura and checked out the upmarket underground shopping mall at Crysta Nagahori.

An afternoon snack of takoyaki octopus balls- an extra crunchy variant methinks as there were definitely puffy bits that added to the texture. We added our own mayonnaise, brown sauce, seaweed flakes and bonito flakes, before sitting down on stools down the back and stabbing them hungrily with toothpicks.

Dinner at Ajinoya involved our longest wait - about thirty minutes - for okonomiyaki, the famous Japanese 'pancake' with cabbage. It was delicious and worth the wait though. Extra crispy, just the way I like it. And the place was popular too with a constant queue of people waiting to enter.

Dessert was a custard tart from the famous stand on Dotonbori. It was eggy and delicious :)

Read the next Japan entry Read the first Japan entry

9 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 5/16/2007 10:37:00 pm


  • At 5/20/2007 8:56 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    For years I wanted a Hello Kitty toaster (it toasts HK's face on the bread) then unbelievably someone casually mentioned that you could get it in KMart and I rushed there. But when I finally had one in my hands, it felt all cheap and plasticky and suddenly I didn't want it anymore. So it's still normal toast for me at the moment. Great to read about your travel adventures though, as like most people who have commented here, I'll be going to Japan later this year and could do with a few tips!

  • At 5/20/2007 8:03 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow, Im loving your japan posts, helen!

    I so badly want to go to Japan, so I'll live through your posts for now. :D

  • At 5/22/2007 9:06 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I can't wait to see all the pictures.. Helen.. !! ;)

  • At 5/23/2007 1:04 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love octopus balls! The combination of the brown sauces, and a mayo sauce with them rock.

    Keep an eye out for milk lollies, they look a bit like life-savers, but are made from sweetened condensed milk, and come in milk-coffee flavour too.

    Glad you're having fun, enjoying the voyeuristic food read!

  • At 5/24/2007 9:09 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Y - I know someone who has a Hello Kitty toaster. I am yet to sample some though! Japan is just a foodie's paradise. Can't wait to read your tales once you're over there too!

    Hi Amanda - Thanks, I'm glad you're enjoying them (even without photos -- coming soon I promise!).

    Hi Mama Bok - Me too. It's always a totally different pic on the pc screen compared to the back of the camera! They'll be uploaded asap.

    Hi Miss Dissent - I haven't been a huge fan of takoyaki but these ones have converted them I think. I like mine extra crispy and not much sauce or mayo.

    Haven't seen the milk lollies. They sound tasty!

  • At 5/30/2007 4:21 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I was there about a month ago and your blog is reminding me just how good the food was... An okonomiyaki place in Kyoto would have to be one of the most enjoyable meals I've ever had!

    Ps. I've been reading you blog for a while but this is my first comment, so Konichiwa

  • At 5/31/2007 1:21 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Colin - My first time in Japan we had okonomiyaki in Hiroshima. It was a crazy three floor restaurant filled with okonomiyaki counters each manned by a separate chef.

    I'm so glad you made your first comment. See, that wasn't hard. Hope it's the first of many :)

  • At 6/17/2007 11:10 pm, Blogger rei said…

    horumon is the intestines of the cow... i also found this out the hard way, hehe.

  • At 6/17/2007 11:57 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Rachel - It didn't really look like intestines (not tubes as such, more like fatty pieces of flesh) but I'll take your word of it :) It wasn't too bad. Kinda nourishing in a wholesome "don't waste anything" way!


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