The moment that sushi graced my palate, I knew I had been mistaken all this time.

I was known in my circle as the guy who hated Japanese food. Well, ‘hated’ would be quite a stretch. I was just not a fan. At lunch or dinnertime and a friend would suggest a Japanese restaurant, I’d be the first to run to the opposite direction (unless they’re treating me). I’d always found sushi weird-tasting and many other dishes too dry. If there was one thing I wasn’t looking forward to in my first trip to Japan, it was the food.

But that changed as soon as I had my first meal in Osaka.

Apparently, Japanese food in Japan is lightyears better than those I had tried in the Philippines. Duh?

My first authentic Japanese meal came in the form of a sushi set from Endo Sushi, a humble yet legendary gastronomic oasis in Osaka’s wholesale fish market area. They have been operating for over a century, perfecting the art that is sushi. The freshest ingredients and the delicate manner it was prepared produced the best dish that had ever gone through my lips. I could say that probably the most unforgettable — and enlightening — lunch I had. One bite and I died in an instant, only to be resurrected with a whole new appreciation for the Japanese cuisine.

Here are some of the dishes, snacks, desserts, and drinks that I tried.

Sushi

Sushi Plate #3: Ebi (shrimp), Tamago (sweet omelet), Awabi (abalone), Tekka (tuna roll), and Tako (octopus)
Sushi Overload: Ebi (shrimp), Tamago (sweet omelet), Awabi (abalone), Tekka (tuna roll), and Tako (octopus)

Okonomiyaki and Negiyaki

Okonomiyaki: wheat flour, cabbage, and eggs (JPY 819)
Okonomiyaki. Osaka’s famous traditional pancake made of wheat flour, cabbage, and eggs (JPY 819)
Negiyaki --- wheat flour, kujo onions, eggs --- with shrimps and clams (JPY 735)
Negiyaki. Kyoto’s version of Okonomiyaki. Made of wheat flour, eggs and kujo onions. (JPY 735)

Fugu

Fugu sushi
Fugu. Widely considered the second most poisonous vertebrate in the world (next only to the Golden Poison Frog), the PUFFERFISH carries tetrodotoxin, a substance that is 1200 times more potent than cyanide, mostly in the fish’s ovaries and liver. One pufferfish can kill 30 adult humans. There is no known antidote. In Japan, it is popularly served as sashimi and sushi topping. The toxic parts have been removed of course.

Yakitori

Yakitori. But this is not chicken. In this part of Kyoto, yakitori is traditionally quail or pigeon.
Yakitori. But this is not chicken. In this part of Kyoto, yakitori is traditionally quail or pigeon.

Ramen

Miso ramen with Gyouza and Chicken Karaage
Miso ramen with Gyouza and Chicken Karaage
My Kyushu Shoyu Ramen, tastes like Lucky Me Pancit Canton, except better. Much better.
Kyushu Shoyu Ramen, tastes like Lucky Me Pancit Canton, except better. Much better.

Takoyaki

Takoyaki, almost done
Takoyaki. Wheat and cabbage balls with octopus core.

Japanese Dango

Mitarashi Dango. Barbequed rice on stick. Sweet and very filling!
Mitarashi Dango. Barbequed rice on stick. Sweet and very filling!

Kakigori

Kakigori. Regarded as the ancestor of the Philippines' halo-halo. This one is matcha (green tea) flavor.
Kakigori. Regarded as the ancestor of the Philippines’ halo-halo. It is said that the origins of the halo-halo can be traced back to prewar Japanese who introduced us the idea of “beans in syrup.” This one is matcha (green tea) flavor.

Sake

Sake (JPY525) vs Chu-hi (JPY399)
Sake (JPY525) vs Chu-hi (JPY399)

Taiyaki

Taiyaki. Fish-shaped cakes.
Taiyaki. Fish-shaped cakes.
The toppings of my Takiyaki
The toppings of my Taiyaki
YUMMY! The takiyaki, not the vendor.
YUMMY! The taiyaki, not the vendor.


Bonus

Green tea ice cream. You'll find booths selling these in almost every tourist spot in Osaka and Kyoto.
Green tea ice cream. You’ll find booths selling these in almost every tourist spot in Osaka and Kyoto.
Hamburg Steak. Not really a Japanese dish but it's pretty popular in Kansai region. Available in most restaurants and even convenience stores!
Hamburg Steak. Not really a Japanese dish but it’s pretty popular in Kansai region. Available in most restaurants and even convenience stores!

In the course of my backpacking journey across the Kansai region, I fell in love deeper and deeper with what the kitchens here had to offer.

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Yoshke Dimen

Storyteller at Yoshke.com
Yoshke is a part-time digital marketing consultant, part-time travel blogger, and full-time dreamer. He has three passions in life: social media, travel, and --- wait for it --- world peace. Yoshke has won 3 PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS and received 9 nominations. Learn more about his personal journeys at Yoshke.com.
Yoshke Dimen

Comments

    • At first we were like, “we can’t afford that.” But later on, when we got fed up with convenience store food, we just said, “Frak it, let’s eat real food.” Haha.

      We just stopped converting currencies in our heads eventually.

  1. norzkie says:

    hi… im travelling to japan this april. and im planning to visit nagoya. can you suggest cheapest trip to nagoya from tokyo?

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