Osaka: Our Japan Food Diary

Osaka: Our Japan Food Diary

We only spent one day in Osaka (not including Universal Studios) but we packed a whole lot of food in. Osaka is known for it’s street food so we had a long list of Osaka food we wanted to try. Here’s what we ate:

Starbucks

While we waited for our hotel check in time to come around, we hung out in a Starbucks with out luggage. I had my first matcha frappuccino and it was everything. Topher got a some form of a chocolate cookie frappuccino.

osaka food - starbucks

Breakfast: Japanese Bakery

osaka food - japanese bakery

For our first morning in Osaka we were on the hunt for a bakery. I watched a lot of Youtube videos before we went so I knew that we definitely had to make it to a Japanese bakery at least once. This one was in an underground shopping mall attached to Nippombashi station.

osaka food - melon pan

We got a couple of pastries each. I had to try some melon pan which I already tried in Tokyo but as part of an ice cream sandwich. This one did not disappoint!

Topher also got this what I’m just going to call “breakfast bread” which he said was perfect for what he needed that morning. It was basically bread with bacon and egg embedded into it which would be ideal for on the go.

osaka food - breakfast bread

Street Food

Our lunch was from a stall we found on the walk to Osaka castle. It sold different meats and seafood on sticks as well as corn on the cob. Topher went for the corn and I got this squid like thing which we weren’t sure what it was exactly. We called it sea bacon and left it at that. Both were tasty!

osaka food - corn
osaka food - sea bacon

Osaka Castle was also the location in which we discovered Bikkle. As we went along our trip we tried many different drinks from the vending machines we found. But none other led us on a hunt that would last the rest of the trip like this drink. Anywhere we saw it after this, we got it.

osaka food - bikkle

If you like Yakult or Actimel, you’ll love Bikkle. It’s like those drinks but with more of a fruity edge to it. If you want to see us try it, check out the Osaka vlog at 18.51.

Uncle Rikuro – Japanese Cheesecake

osaka food - uncle rikuro

A few years ago I saw a photo of a Japanese cheesecake on Pinterest and knew one day I’d have to try it. I pinned it to my board and fast forward to this year I finally got to try it. Uncle Rikuro is a very popular chain for this type of cheesecake and all those people in the photo above are lining up for a fresh one.

osaka food - cheesecake

I read that you could get slices of the cheesecake inside but they weren’t as fresh. We took a gamble and bought a whole one for the two of us hoping we’d like it and be able to finish it. Our hotel was nearby so we ran back to it to try it out.

Look how big it is! Luckily it was light, fluffy and we ate a chunk of it there and then before saving the rest for breakfast the next day. There was a mini fridge in the room.

I wouldn’t recommend trying it if you’re expecting a Western cheesecake because it’s definitely not that. No cheesiness to it in the slightest. I’d heard it described as a sweet omelette but trust me it tasted better than that sounds! In the vlog I linked above, we try this right after Bikkle so keep watching it if you want to see our thoughts on the screen.

osaka food - cheesecake feast

Takoyaki

osaka food - takoyaki

Takoyaki is an Osaka speciality that you must try if you come here. Unless you’re vegetarian! Takoyaki is dough balls with pieces of octopus inside. Tako means octopus and Yaki means fried. Drizzled on top is usually Japanese mayo, takoyaki sauce (kind of like worcestershire sauce tasting) and bonito flakes which are made from dried fish.

They are made all over the place in Osaka and my number one tip when eating is to bite a small air hole in a ball so it can cool down a bit. I’ve watched too many people shove one in their mouth only to get burned. Topher fell victim to this!

Gyoza

osaka food - gyoza

I was unable to try these as they contained pork but Topher said they were delicious! These were on Dotonbori Street. You would be able to find other types elsewhere that don’t contain pork but I just didn’t do too much research into it as there were other kinds of food I was more excited by.

Kobe Beef

osaka food - kobe beef

We didn’t have time on this trip to visit the actual city of Kobe so I was pleased to find this shop that did it in Dotonbori. This beef was expensive but so delicious!

Taiyaki

osaka food - taiyaki

We found this shop on the way back to our hotel and I was so pleased as this was on my list of things to try. Taiyaki is a cake shaped like a fish which is traditionally filled with red bean paste. Though these days there are more things you can find them filled with like custard for example.

I went with the traditional type and it was so nice. I really enjoy red bean paste as it is sweet without being overly rich. It’s great to finish a dessert and not feel sick!

Oden

osaka food - oden

We didn’t actually have this but I took the photo to remind myself to try it next time. We were too full at this point to squeeze anything else in. Oden is popular in the winter and consists of a broth where you can add in any of the items in this photo. Things like fish cakes, boiled eggs, daikon etc.

Tohato – Random snack!

osaka food - tohato

We bought this on the same day but didn’t try until the next day when we got back from Universal Studios. Emma asked us to bring a couple of bags back for her as she loved them when we came to Japan in 2017. We ended up getting a bag for us as well and I’m glad we did.

Tohato Caramel Corn are “crunchy corn bites covered in a super thin caramel glaze (making them sweet, but not overpoweringly sweet), as well as roasted peanuts for a hint of savoury umami flavour.” There seem to be a few different types/flavours but this is the one we tried this time. If you’re ever in Japan pick yourself up a bag, they’re so moreish!

And that’s everything we ate in Osaka.

Stay tuned for my next instalment where we head to Hiroshima.

If you can’t wait for that I’m happy to tell you that all of our Japan vlogs are up on my Youtube channel. Enjoy!

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Kyoto: Our Japan Food Diary

Kyoto: Our Japan Food Diary

So looking back through my photos to put this post together it turns out that we ate basically nothing in Kyoto. So this is going to be a short Kyoto food diary.

We only spent 36 hours in Kyoto so here’s our food diary.

Bento Box

kyoto food diary - bento box

Bento boxes are by definition “a single-portion take-out or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine”. Thank you wikipedia.

So when you take the shinkansen/bullet train it’s practically the law that you get one. At least that’s what I told myself. Getting a 6.30am train from Tokyo to Kyoto meant that Topher and I needed breakfast so this was a both convenient and delicious solution.

I got myself a salmon onigiri (which is a filling like salmon, tuna, etc. surrounded by rice and wrapped in seaweed to make a triangle shape), a milk tea and a bento box. The bento box consisted of deliciously marinated beef on a bed of sticky rice.

One thing to mention is that this bento box was cold. And yet it was so delicious I still dream of it now. Bento boxes can also come hot but I went with this one. If you’re in Japan get one whether you’re riding the shinkansen or not.

Nishiki Market

After a jam packed morning we headed to Nishiki market for lunch.

Salmon Sashimi & Sea Urchin

kyoto food diary - sashimi

As a lover of sushi and seafood, this salmon sashimi was right up my street. Perfection! The sea urchin on the other hand I could take or leave. We just wanted to tick it off our bucket lists. The taste was fine but the texture was…interesting. I’ll leave you with that.

Torched Scallops

kyoto food diary - scallops

I say torched because the guy literally blow torched them there and then before handing them to me on a stick. These were the best things I ate all day. I hadn’t seen them on any blogs or vlogs – I just saw a woman with them that day and hunted the market until I found them. Recommended.

Tako Tamago

kyoto food diary - octopus

Yes indeed that is an octopus you see. And not just an octopus; a glazed octopus. And not just a glazed octopus; a glazed octopus with a quail egg inside its head.

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this taste-wise as much as I did. It was actually pretty nice. But only if you like seafood. If you don’t then steer clear of this eccentricity.

And unfortunately those are all the photos I have. For dinner and breakfast the next day we went to a convenience store (kombini) which you can actually see on our Kyoto video here.

And the next day for lunch we headed to another branch of our beloved Sukiya which I first spoke about in my Tokyo food diary. And that’s it!

Stay tuned for my next instalment where we head to Osaka.

If you can’t wait for that I’m happy to tell you that all of our Japan vlogs are up on my Youtube channel. Enjoy!

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Tokyo: Our Japan Food Diary

Tokyo: Our Japan Food Diary

Time for one of my favourite things to talk about when it comes to holidays. The food!

I’ve already posted about the first leg of our trip to Japan here where we spent the first few days in Tokyo.

You can also check out my vlogs from the trip. I’ve just posted Day 1 up on my Youtube channel and can’t wait to get cracking on the rest.

So, onto the food. Here’s what we ate during our first few days in Tokyo.

Genki Sushi – Shibuya

This was actually the first and only time we ate sushi while we were in Japan! Surprising but there is just so many different variations of Japanese food that you can get. We wanted to try everything!

Plus this was our first meal in Tokyo and I was so jet lagged that I only took this photo…oops! We mainly stuck to nigiri sushi and my favourite was definitely the fatty tuna. So good!

Genki sushi is kind of like conveyor belt sushi but you order dishes and they come to your table via a little train type thing. So fun.

Sukiya – so many locations!

Sukiya is like staple Japanese fast food. They mainly serve gyūdon which is basically a beef and rice bowl. We found this next to our Shibuya hotel so we ran in out of the rain and it was exactly the kind of comfort food we were after.

We both had beef, rice and cheese. It was so good that we ate at two more branches on our Japan trip.

Street Food at Asakusa

When we went to Senso-ji on the first day we decided to try as many kinds of street food as we could.

Ningyo Yaki

These are little cakes filled with red bean paste. So cute and tasty! We both enjoyed them even though Topher isn’t a huge fan of red bean paste.

Kinako Dango

This doesn’t look like much but wow oh wow was it good. Dango is mochi balls on a skewer and comes in many different varieties. This type is covered in soy flour which tasted like peanut butter in my opinion. I think this is my second favourite type of dango.

Mitarashi Dango

Say hello to my favourite type of dango. These mochi balls are covered in a sweet soy sauce. Served hot from the street they were the best treat of the morning.

Daifuku

Daifuku is mochi stuffed with red bean paste. This particular type also came with a large strawberry on top. Topher was happy to find that this vendor also did a version where it was stuffed with thick custard instead of red bean. Both were delicious though a little messy to eat!

Melon Pan

Our final bit of street food was a melon pan ice cream sandwich to share. Melon pan is basically sweet bread. It’s name comes from the outer shell which is a criss-cross pattern that looks like a melon. This particular shop that I got it from only had a few flavours of soft serve ice cream to choose from (despite having about 30 you could have in a cone!) so I panicked and chose matcha.

Topher does not like matcha at all so I had to eat a lot of this…oh well!

Toraji

Korean BBQ has become pretty popular in Japan and I saw this restaurant on youtube so had to give it a go. This particular branch was in Shinjuku and we both went for the lunch set meals. You get a plate of meat and veg to cook, a bowl of rice, a bowl of miso and some little side dishes. It was one of our more expensive meals but pretty reasonable considering how much food you got.

Mensho San Francisco – Shinjuku

This is a chain that was started by a guy originally from Japan in the USA but a branch finally opened in Japan. I’d heard it was good so we decided to give it a go. We both went for their wagyu beef ramen which was very good. The beef cooked itself in the broth!

A Happy Pancake – Shibuya

Ever since I discovered soufflé pancakes online a few years ago I’ve been dying to try them. So A Happy Pancake had to be added to my list. We showed up just after opening and had to wait about 20 minutes for a table. I just went with the original ones with maple syrup and honey butter and they were to die for!

Keep in mind if you ever go here that the pancakes take a while to cook so bring your patience with you. They are definitely worth the wait though.

Reissue – Harajuku

If you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary then get yourself to this 3D latte art cafe. They have a book full of options and the creations are super cute. Rather expensive though!

Street Food in Harajuku

We also decided to try some random Harajuku food (minus their famous crepes as we were too full from breakfast) as we walked around.

Potato Tornado

We got this ginormous thing covered in soy butter and it was delicious though in some places a tad too salty.

Sanshoku Dango

We picked up this dango in Daiso which is a 100yen store. We spent a fair bit of money in here. They do all kinds of snacks, homeware and beauty stuff among other things. This was my least favourite dango but it did have a lot to live up to with the other two we tried. I just wanted to be able to hold an emoji!

Calbee Store

Calbee is a Japanese snack maker famous for their different type of crisps. You can get fresh ones in their Harajuku store with different toppings. We got some crisps covered in chocolate sauce as well as some veggie flavour sticks. The pink wrapped one was a freebie we were given at the till.

We both enjoyed the potato stick things – the regular flavour were all sold out. And I loved the chocolate covered ones. It reminds me of when I was a weird kid who would put plain crisps and chocolate in my mouth at the same time.

The freebie was one we opened on the shinkansen (bullet train) the next day. They were prawn flavour crisps covered in strawberry flavour chocolate. Topher liked – I did not!

Food Show – Shibuya

Food Show is a food hall in a department store in Shibuya. We were low on time and money at this point in the day so I got this luxury egg sandwich I saw on Youtube and Topher got a pork bun and some pork gyoza.

My egg sandwich was amazingly good and I wish I’d been able to buy a second one. I will never be able to replicate this at home.

Topher loved what I will forever call his pork feast. And that’s everything we ate in Tokyo!

Next up, our adventures in Kyoto.

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By Heck, It’s Veganuary!*

Ey up! So with it being January, naturally the world and their mother are trying to watch what they eat. Whether that be trying out Veganuary, Dry January or simply watching themselves eat more cake (nom!), you’ll be hard pressed to find someone not talking about it.

As a person who doesn’t eat pork, I have found myself trying to find sausages in this country that I can eat. Other meat types do exist but they don’t seem to be well stocked. So over the years I’ve found myself trying more and more vegetarian sausages.

If you haven’t heard of Heck, then where the heck have you been? #sorrynotsorry. Heck are a British food company who believe in making unique, healthy and delicious sausages – among other things these days! Having been a fan of Heck since I tried some of their chicken sausages a few years ago at a food festival, I was super excited when they offered to send me some of their vegan sausages to try.

Though I won’t be participating in Veganuary, Topher and I have been actively trying to eat less meat in the last few months. At the moment we’ve narrowed down our meat eating to outside the house only. So home cooking is all veggie for us now. I couldn’t wait to try the four type of vegan sausages that Heck offer.

So that we could compare but not overwhelm ourselves, we decided to try out a new kind each night for four days. Here’s how it went:

Day 1: Bollywood Bangers

These are the ones I was most excited for. The package describes them as “Indian-style veggie bangers with cauliflower, green lentils, pulses and seeds. All spiced up with chilli, ginger, cumin and turmeric.”

Since I’m not the best at coming up with recipes (I’m a follower, not a creator) so I headed to Heck’s website and used their Bollywood Bangers Roasted Cauliflower and Lentil Dahl recipe.

So…this isn’t my photo. This looks a whole lot better than my photo. I’m good at following recipes but not so good at making it look pretty. You want to see the real thing I made? Well you asked for it…

Complete with chipped plate that I am sneakily hiding with my thumb, I digress. Anyway, you must be thinking, please tell me this tastes better than it looks? Yes. Yes it does. In fact it tasted so good that it ties for joint first place for me. I’ll tell you which one with in a bit! The combo of the sausages with the dahl and the cauliflower was just delicious. If you’re a fan of Indian food then I definitely recommend these.

Day 2: Super Greens

Filled with quinoa, spinach, kale & ginger – I have to admit these weren’t at the top of my list of the types I thought I’d like. Blame it on an entire childhood of hating anything green. But I’m happy to say that these were my joint favourite with the bollywood bangers. Especially the way I served them. Loosely based on this Heck recipe, we ate the super green sausages Mexican style. Mexican is my second favourite type of food so it’s not that surprising that I loved the flavour of this.

So I was hoping that this would look a little prettier but that idea went out the window when the sour cream, salsa and guacamole glooped onto the top. Not particularly arty but tasty as well. We paired the taco boats with paprika wedges. I’m so pleased I saw the Heck recipe because I wouldn’t have thought to go in this direction with this particular sausage. Another meal I would definitely have again!

Day 3: Sweet Fusion

“Veggie bangers made with fragrant thai pesto, sweet potato & sticky rice” i knew straight away that Topher would love these sausages. Following another Heck recipe that would be perfect for BBQs in the summer, I have to once again state that it tastes better than it looks dammit!

My suspicion was correct and these sausages were Topher’s favourite of the whole bunch. An easy meal to throw together and something a little bit different from a plain old hotdog. These would also be lovely in a stir fry!

Day Four: The Beet Goes On

Now I’ll be honest and say I was pretty apprehensive about these sausages. I hate beetroot. I always have. So my plan of action was to give them a fair shot by finding a recipe I could hide them in. Yes I’m a child. Since jambalaya traditionally has pork in it I don’t get to have it I figured Heck’s jambalaya recipe would be a winner.

Ooh look another pretty picture definitely….not taken by me. Thanks Heck. Here’s what I actually made:

Unsurprisingly these were my least favourite but they were edible. I actually finished the whole thing and took some to work the next day. Topher does like beetroot and did agree with me that they had more of an earthy kind of taste so weren’t as nice as the other sausages we had this week. But to be honest the bar was pretty high in the first place. If you can’t get enough of beetroot then these are certainly worth a try.

Overall…

I’m a big fan of food experiments and this one was a successful one. I’ll definitely be hunting some more of these down in the future. It’s so nice to see more veggie and vegan food appearing in stores – especially when it’s so delicious!

Heck vegan sausages are available to buy in Asda, Waitrose, Booths and Ocado

Have you ever tried Heck Sausages?

*Sausages were sent to me by Heck free of charge in return for an honest review

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Manchester Eats Festival – The Experience

Man oh man was it hot on Saturday when Claire and I trekked out to Heaton Park for the Manchester Eats Festival. But was it worth it? Hell yes.

Manchester Eats Festival - entrance

It was around lunchtime when we strolled through the entrance and we were hungry! Luckily for us the festival was big but not overwhelming so we had plenty of choice.

Manchester Eats Festival - festival

We started by having a stroll around on the hunt for lunch. We mainly spent our time taking photos of things we wanted to come back for on the way out to take home. A strategy that worked out perfectly. The festival was busy but not too crowded – mainly down to the football being on (Yay England!). But something that I wasn’t expecting was that they had set up TVs dotted around with lots of seating so you could actually watch the game. Claire and I stopped at them every so often to keep an eye on the score but we were on a mission.

Manchester Eats Festival - candyfloss

Our first stop was for a drink at Calyx. Their watermelon, apple and hibiscus flower mocktails were to DIE FOR! It was the perfect thing for the hot weather. So refreshing.

Manchester Eats Festival - pineapple

As for lunch itself, Claire spotted Cottonopolis’s Japanese offerings so how could we say no? Claire had a Chicken Kaarage Bao bun with kimchi, I had a Katsu Chicken Burger and we split some okonomiyaki fries.

Manchester Eats Festival - katsu chicken burger

Completely stuffed, we wandered some more in search of something a bit more alcoholic. For once I hadn’t driven so I could have whatever I wanted.

Manchester Eats Festival - football

Claire being a big gin fan was instantly drawn into the gin garden where she had a cocktail from Tappers. She said it was delicious. I will take her word for it as I don’t like gin!

Manchester Eats Festival - spirits

Manchester Eats Festival - gin

I do however like Pimms…

Manchester Eats Festival - pimms

Manchester Eats Festival - signpost

It was getting hotter by the minute so we sat in front of one of the TVs to drink our drinks. Perfect timing for one of our goals! Come on England!

Manchester Eats Festival -chilli

Manchester Eats Festival - fried chicken

Then it was time for dessert. Claire was fascinated by the concept of ice cream rolls so we visited The Ice Alchemists. They whipped up Manchester tart flavoured ice cream rolls and it was definitely true to taste. I might have had a little nibble.

Manchester Eats Festival - ice cream rolls

Earlier on we had spotted something new in the dessert world so I had to make it my dessert choice. Milky Stax are a new company who specialise in hot pressed ice cream buns. Delicious brioche buns filled with ice cream. Kind of like a doughnut or ice cream sandwich. I definitely enjoyed mine (vanilla ice cream with chocolate chip cookie crumble on top) – the portion was just right and I loved the contrast between hot and cold. I hope to see them around again!

Manchester Eats Festival - ice cream sandwich

By this point we were pretty tired and hot so it was time to put our foldable shopping bags to good use and go round buying everything we wanted to bring home with us. Did I mention how much I like being employed full time again? It was mainly sweet treats and booze I bought and I regret nothing. Since Topher couldn’t come I had to get him this chocolate I spotted at In Truffle We Trust. He loved it and I also loved the pecan pie chocolate I got for myself. Delicious.

Manchester Eats Festival - chocolate

Overall both Claire and I had a great day. Food, drink, sunshine and England getting through to the semi finals! Thanks to Manchester Eats Festival for providing our tickets. I hope you’ll be back soon!

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