Our last day in Kansai and we were not about to waste it. Chanced upon a new book (then) on cafes and patisseries in Osaka just the night before at a local bookstore in Shinsaibashi. Perfect! We had a quick browse and shortlisted two seemingly promising places to visit on our last day. First off in the morning was to Pâtisserie & Salon de Thé Coichi located near Tamatsukuri Station 玉造駅 which is just a couple of stops away from where we stayed. They open really early for a patisserie, starting the day at 8 am instead of the usual 10 or 11 am, but we don’t mind at all! Just in time for some pastry breakfast! Or so we thought!
7th day in Kansai, back to Osaka after our short trips to Kyoto and Nara. Time to pay our due visit to the Osaka Aquarium. Alas, the good weather we’d had earlier in the week took a turn and brought persistent showers who lasted for hours, and sometimes entire afternoons. That kinda dampened our spirits, quite literally. Oh well, our last 3 days in Kansai and we are determined to make the best out of it.
Located in the western end of the metropolitan by the bay, the Osaka Aquarium is home to a large variety of marine animals from all over the world, including Kai kun, one of the few whale sharks in captivity. Here are some photos which I snapped in haste, which do not accurately portray the scale and grandeur of the place for sure. Do enjoy them nonetheless…
I remember our first walk down Shinsaibashisuji after we’d touched down at Osaka on our first day. It was exciting as we’d read so much about this shopping street, packed with all sorts of shops selling all kinds of stuff from facial masks to fugu. There was a cake shop that specialises in castellas, and a tea house with all grades of Kyoto Uji matcha. The wide corridor is also flanked with many eateries for all sorts of cuisines and desserts. And the one which made us stop and stare hard into their window the most has to be Dalloyau.
The bento lunch was cold but tasty, and alas, too short. We continued our way around Nara, crossing Nara Koen and making our way to Todaiji 東大寺, an ancient buddhist shrine, which boasts many “firsts” in this ancient city.
After our little tour at Nishiki Market, we found ourselves at Daimaru Kyoto, located in between Kawaramachi and Karasuma stations. Won’t miss the chance for a little “tour” of the depachika as well. True enough, the basement is filled with little takeaway corners representing various big names which have found themselves in Kyoto. The one that struck us most was a small little booth by the famed Belgian patissier cum chocolatier, Jean-Philippe Darcis.
Sorry for the lack in updates from our recent Osaka trip. These two weeks had been hectic as hell for me with students’ mid-year exams round the corner. Trying to cram in as much last minute revision as possible. But alas I’d better get this going cos we are going Taipei next week and that would mean a severe backlog to clear! So here we go!
Patisserie Alcyon is another home-grown brand under “Anjou and Alcyon” whose humble beginnings in 1972as a restaurant in Shinsaibashi Osaka, specialising in Mediterranean cuisine. The patisserie branch debuted in 1986 and has since grown not only locally but reached the shores of France, with dessert boutiques in Paris. We visited their takeaway outlet in Umeda, Osaka which is reputed to have a very good selection of macarons. And indeed they do! 30 flavours in all!
Pâtisserie Factory Shin @ Daimaru Umeda, Osaka. Another “home-grown” name trying very hard to make a name for itself in the patisserie circle in Japan, and had been somewhat successful, having almost 40 dessert boutiques and takeaway counters all over Japan, including Daimaru Umeda which we’d visited. And they had one of my all-time favorites, Mont Blanc in not just one, but two flavours!
Dinner time and we found ourselves back along shinsaibashi suji 心齋橋筋. Not wanting to travel far out, after a long and tiring day at Osaka Castle and Umeda, Dotonbori seemed like the best option, and 鶴橋風月 大阪焼 Fugetsu Okonomiyaki located just next to Dotonbori-bashi was ideal. It’s authentic and its piping hot for the freezing cold weather!
Cute pinky piggy on the menu whom i’d affectionately called “buta-san”.
No trip to Japan would be complete without sampling authentic Japanese cuisine. We ain’t very keen on Kaiseki 懷石料理 though. Exquisite it might be, the damage is not going to be dainty on our wallets. Our overnight stay at an mini onsen resort in Hakone during our last trip to the Kanto region came with a mini Kaiseki dinner, so its more or less a “been there done that” for us. But we’d not had 和菓子 wagashi yet. Not the authentic ones at least, unless you count the countless sticks of dango we’d bought from supermarkets! So we are definitely not going to miss the opportunity this time round to try some and zoomed in on those offered by 竹路庵, a very famous wagashi shop from 岚山 Arashiyama. We’d read online that the flagship store in western Kyoto is always packed with tourists! Thankfully they have a stall located at the basement of Daimaru in Umeda Osaka which is well supplied with freshly made confections sent from Kyoto 2-3 times a day. That definitely saved us the hassle of queuing, and not to mention giving us a preview of Kyoto, and a taste of spring…
Before our trip to Keikanshin Japan, we did some reading up on the patisseries in the region which are accessible to us. The list was quite overwhelming frankly. But given the time constraint, we had to trim it down to a small compilation, mostly those with takeaway outlets within the depachika of major shopping malls like Daimaru, Takashimaya and Sogo. Jean Philippe Darcis, Michel Belin, Wittamer etc were just some of the international names that had landed in Japan over the last few years. But personally, I’m more keen on sampling creations by the Japanese patissiers.
From a recipe book “Monter au Plus haut du ciel” published by MOOK, I learned about Hayashi Syuhei 林 周平 a patissier from Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku and now currently based in Kobe with his own Patisserie, Mont Plus. The book title, literally meaning “To Reach for the Skies” was very intriguing and so were the creations within. Kobe wasn’t on our itinerary but thankfully, Hayashi san opened an outlet, mont plus PAYSANNE in JR Osaka Station in Umeda. I knew I had to pay a visit to sample his works.
We were absolutely famished after a whole morning at Osaka Castle and the Plum Blossom Garden. We headed for Umeda via the Osakajo Koen Subway Station on the Chuo line.
Venturing pass the main shopping corridor of Shinsaibashi, we’d reached Dotonborigawa 道頓堀川, whose banks are laden with restaurants and eateries of all sorts. One photo caption I’d read over the net mentioned that “Dotonbori typifies the flamboyance of Osaka”, and I couldn’t agree more.
Colorful sights and sounds along the banks of dontonbori, made famous by a prominent Osakan trademark, the Glico “Running Man”.
This post is way overdue. Been back from Japan for over a month now and finally gotten for a decent post for the trip. Wet took a Jetstar (Yes! we are cheapos!!!) flight from SIN to KIX with a transit at TPE.
Since its a budget airline, the tickets WERE much cheaper than a full-service airline. And we bought the tickets real cheap as there was an inaugural launch promo at the time of booking. But I stressed heavily on the WERE part as we had to make an adjustment to the itinerary. We booked the tickets real early, back in May 2010 if my memory hasn’t failed me (Yes! we are kiasu too!) for Nov 2010. But there was a change of plans in August 2010 as J changed jobs and the Nov 2010 dates were right smack during the initial months of work. Not gonna leave a very nice impression if we’d gone on a holiday then. So we’d decided to postpone it to this March. A hefty price we had to pay for the top-ups, admin charges etc. And it certainly didn’t help to know that SIA was having a promo for the dates we were going. But SQ’s flight timings were horrendous. Beggars can’t be choosers I guess, but so much for consolation!!!
Anyway, I’d digressed.