As a self-proclaimed foodie, I think it’s only fair that I dedicate a post to the expansive, wonderful food scene in Osaka. The city isn’t nicknamed the “Nation’s Kitchen” for nothing.
If you have but one location in Japan to to fulfill your washoku desires, Dotonbori is undoubtedly first on your list. You might be craving the savory umami of octopus filled takoyaki. Or perhaps, you desire the satisfying sweetness of custard taiyaki. Is texture your thing? No problem—order a portion or two of dango, a trio of sweet rice cakes skewered and blanketed with a sweet-savory sauce.
Regardless of whatever you may be craving, you must by all means try out Osaka’s famous okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki, one of Osaka’s 名物 (meibutsu, or specialty foods), is a savory pancake that consists of a mixture of flour, eggs, cabbage, meat, and your favorite condiments. Truly a must-try!
I could rave about Osaka’s food scene for quite some time, but since coming to japan, I must admit that my favorite aspect of food culture thus far has been the wonderful sense of community that comes with. Among the CET students, food is, to say it lightly, a topic we greatly enjoy. Whether it been cooking pancakes together on Saturday morning, visiting an izakaya on a Friday night, or hosting spontaneous cooking tutorials during the week, food has been an amazing way for the students to bond and share culture.
Mid-way through the program, the other students and I had the opportunity to visit Koya-san and try a Buddhist temple’s traditional cuisine: 精進料理 (shojin ryouri). The meal consisted of a variety of root vegetables, soft grains, and gelled broths, but per Buddhist tradition, the meal was 100% free of any animal products. Seeing the reaction of the American vs. Japanese students was quite interesting.
The American students, who were excited to taste test the variety of intriguing, vegan-friendly foods before them, eagerly sampled each dish, whereas the Japanese students (who I assumed had already tried this type of food once or twice before) didn’t share quite the same caliber of enthusiasm. Looking around the room, I couldn’t help but smile at the stark difference between the two’s reactions!
Last but certainly not least, Japan’s bento culture is utterly, undeniably unmatched. From colorful, cartoon-themed bentos to perfectly compartmentalized bentos, there’s no way to go wrong! Much to my surprise, I absolutely love prepping my bento every night for lunch the next day.
Throughout these past 7 weeks, I have had the opportunity to learn how to prep and cook a variety of different Japanese foods. Recently, I’ve been trying to focusing on using ingredients that are less common back home, like daikon radish, kabucha, and unagi. Some personal Emily originals are the shoyu omelet, miso daikon, and of course, gohan with sesame seeds!