4.29.2015

Turning Japanese : Top 10 Best Eats in Osaka 2015

We are back in foodie heaven.
I think this may be a yearly tradition for us because we just really fell in love with Osaka since our trip last Spring. Known as the  “Japan's Big Kitchen”, food critics and writers have described OSAKA as the Food Capital of not just of Japan, but of the entire world. Attracting millions of tourists annually with beloved regional dishes like okonomiyaki, takoyaki, and udon, the Osakan love for food is so legendary that it’s given rise to the saying: “Kyotoites are financially ruined by overspending on clothing, Osakans are ruined by spending on food.”  It's most definitely my kind of place! 

Here are my top 10 Cheap Eats this year;

1. Green Tea Ice Cream from Bar D Te'
   OMG actually make that OMFG!!! Excuse the language but this was really so damn AWESOME that's why it tops my list this year! I never knew green tea ice cream can taste THAT good. The green tea flavor really stands out;  it's concentrated and strong (grassy and slightly bitter) and not the usual watered down and milky ones that are widely available in every convenient store in Japan. Don't get me wrong, I love Family Mart's green tea ice cream because it's so reasonable and you can't go wrong with  "twirl all you want" for Php 25.00-Php 30.00 (In Osaka, the usual price of their soft serve is about 300 yen or roughly $3) but THIS just put green tea ice cream into a whole new level. The texture is sticky and creamy and they serve it with a long thin black teaspoon which you use to dig in the ice cream. So where is this place? It's a stall inside the Takashimaya Food Court (B1 level) in Namba Station called Bar D Te'.
 Enjoying my little piece of heaven sandwiched between the Lolas and Lolos of Osaka. Hahaha :)

Look for this stall :)

2. Kuromon Sanpei's Sushi Sets
This is our favorite place inside the Kuromon Ichiba Market. It's essentially a small marketplace that offers a variety of fresh fish and sushi. They sell pre-packaged sushi/sashimi sets you want it  are on the go or you can eat it right there. They have tables where you can enjoy the meal, use their free wifi and get complimentary hot rice tea to wash down your meal. 

My top picks are : Toro Sashimi/Sushi, Scallops (they are ginormous!) sashimi and Buri/Hamachi Sushi.

Buri/ Hamachi Sashimi


Scallops and Toro

3. Unadon Lunch Set at Takagi Suisan
This small stall can also be found inside Kuromon Ichiba market and it serves just EEL. They also make their own homemade special eel sauce made from the finest soy sauce from a long-established soy sauce  store since the Edo period. Their eel is meaty, juicy and soft and is covered in a richly simmered sweet sauce.

For 850 Yen (about $8.50) , you'll get a unagi rice topping, miso soup with clams and pickled radish. Their Unagi (eel) is so delicately cooked plus the teriyaki sauce is so rich in flavor (i like that I sense the hint of sake and mirin).

4. Kushikatsu
Kushikatsu is one of the things Osaka is known for. It's deep fried meat or veggie skewers served with a communal tonkatsu (a watered down version of it)  dipping sauce! 

 Look for this Kushikatsu Man. You'll see him all around Dotonburi and Shinsaibashi.

Complimentary Cabbage Appetizers

Our favorites : Classic Kushikatsu (Beef),  Asparagus, Okra, Shitake, Octopus, Cheese and Kushi Rice (Fried Curry Rice Ball).  Best to order their draft beer to water down all the oil (eek!). 

Remember the 4 Cardinal Kushikatsu Rules 
1. NO DOUBLE DIPPING. This is the most important rule of all. The sauce is communal so this is very VERY important. 
2. Dip Kushi (whatever item it is) once and move it to your place.
3. Eat cabbage (appetizer) with your hands. 
4. Do not soak chopsticks into the sauce.

*You'll be given this note/card when you dine in to remind you of their house rules. 

5. Takoyaki (Plain and Salted) from Amerika-Mura
This is the Takoyaki for Purist. It's not the usual Takoyaki you're familiar which is smothered with a sweet and tangy dark sauce but instead the octopus balls are simply seasoned with salt, spring onions and a generous topping of bonito flakes and Japanese mayonnaise. I understand why it's said to be the bestseller among the locals because you can really enjoy the taste of the octopus balls instead of masking them with the sauce.
Takoyaki with Rocksalt
8 pcs. for 350 Yen


How adorable is this? The takoyaki lady wearing a takoyaki hat! :)

6.  Grilled Eel Liver
Definitely not for the faint of heart but since I love Unagi this was not hard to like (and digest). It's liver in a BBQ stick that's grilled and covered in sweet teriyaki sauce.


7. Mitarashi Dango

It's a type of dango (sweet dumplings) skewered onto bamboo sticks. Mitarashi means covered in syrup made from shoyu (soy sauce), sugar and starch. These small sticky rice balls are grilled adn covered in a nice sweet dark (teriyaki-like) glaze. They sell them all over the streets of Osaka and Nara.  

8. Fresh Handmade Mochi from Nakatanidou 

BEST. MOCHI. EVER.
     I chanced upon this Mochi stall in Nara (the market strip just beside the main station) and got to try the BEST Mochi ever! Nakatanidou makes the mochi on site by having two men pound the dough with huge wooden mallots. The men usually wait until there is a crowd before the start the pounding and then they sell the mochi after it’s made. The pounding process helps soften the dough before it is filled with red bean. 1 pc for 130 yen. The rice flour dough is tinted green with yomogi (mugwort) and dusted with kinako (soy bean powder). Don't miss this when you visit Nara!

9. Curry Takeout from Coco Curry House
After our Nara day trip on our 4th day there, we came home to our apartment really exhausted.  We didn't want to walk to Dotonbori for dinner so we just decided to go for something quick and easy. We found Coco Curry House just around the corner and ordered take-out. Coco Curry House has been around since the 1970's when it first opened it's flagship restaurant in Nagoya. It has proven it's concept already and has stores/franchises all over the world. Their menu is simple...everything CURRY. You can choose a protein (mostly fried and their most popular is the tonkatsu - fried breaded pork with curry). I was in the mood for vegetables so I had the Spinach Curry Rice for 600 Yen / $6.00 . Maybe I was just so tired and hungry but I really enjoyed my plate and wiped it out clean.  



10. Family Mart Sushi and Soba 
My hubby and I are suckers for cheap eats and so when we arrived in Kansai really late on our first night, we headed to Family Mart to get dinner since it was the only one open. For the quality and the price, you can never go wrong. 
Assorted Sushi and Cold Soba, yes please!

So there you have it folks :  My top picks during our Osaka trip this year. Let me know if you have questions and comments, email me at sliceofpattie@gmail.com and I'd be happy to answer them :)

It's just been a few days since I got back but I already miss the place, the weather and the FOOD!

Turning Japanese,
Pattie



4.18.2015

Achoo Away : Take The Morning Sneezes Out with The Netipot (Nasal Irrigation)



I developed allergic rhinitis in the past years probably because of the pollution and irritants in our Metro Manila air - sad but true :(  I have to go through a whole round of sneezes and morning congestion (almost) everyday which is not the best thing to experience when you wake up. And don't even ask me what happens during the height of spring, I get the worst kind of allergies where my eyes get really teary and  watery and I have a runny nose the whole time. Ugh! I hate taking antihistamines and have been constantly trying to look for natural ways to deal with my condition. I recently discovered this ancient ayurvedic practice of Nasal Cleansing through the use the Netipot. 



The Neti Pot naturally cleanses, refreshes, and protects the nasal passages, one of our body’s first lines of defense against illness. Recommended today by doctors and pharmacists worldwide, the Neti PotThas been used for thousands of years in ayurvedic medicine to alleviate sinus and allergy problems. The Himalayan Institute introduced the Neti Pot over 40 years ago, and we currently offer a full line of high quality products to support a complete sinus cleansing system.


The nasal passages are lined with a thin layer of mucus that is one of our body’s first lines of defense against disease. A nasal wash keeps this layer of mucus moist, clean and healthy. And compared to other nasal wash techniques, using the Neti Pot™ is easy. A nasal wash can be as routine as brushing your teeth.
Rinsing with saline solution is a time-honored practice in the Orient. Here in the West, the nasal wash has been used for decades as a means of treating sinus problems, colds, allergies, and post-nasal drip and to counteract the effect of environmental pollution. Those practicing yoga and other meditative disciplines use the nasal wash to ensure free air flow through both nostrils.
Breathing through the nose filters and conditions the incoming air. The nasal passages are lined with a thin layer of mucus that traps dirt, dust, and pollen and moves steadily to the rear of the nasal cavity and settles in the throat where it is swallowed. Saline nasal rinses carry some of these impurities out of the body before they reach your stomach.
They also keep this protective layer of mucus functioning properly. If the mucus becomes too thick and dry or too thin and runny, it is easier for bacteria and viruses to penetrate the nasal lining and cause the swelling and excess discharge of mucus we call a “cold”. That’s why gargling or sniffing a little salt water at the first sign of a cold is a staple of folk medicine and why health-conscious people in India use a small pot of saline to rinse the nasal passages. The Neti Pot™ continues these time-tested traditions of hygiene.

  1. Mix a 1/4 teaspoon of finely ground non-iodized Neti Pot™ Salt in 8oz of warm sterile water.  Use the purest salt available because impurities in the salt can be irritating.  Neti Wash Plus™ should also be added to maximize the effect of your sinus rinse.
  2. Lean forward and turn your head to one side over the sink, keeping the forehead at the same height as the chin, or slightly higher.
  3. Gently insert the spout in the upper nostril so it forms a comfortable seal.
  4. Raise the Neti Pot™ gradually so the saline solution flows in through your upper nostril and out of the lower nostril.  Breathe through your mouth.
  5. When the Neti Pot™ is empty, face the sink and exhale vigorously without pinching the nostrils.
  6. Refill the Neti Pot™ and repeat on the other side. Again, exhale vigorously to clear the nasal passages.
  7. Do one or more of the recommended exercises to drain any remaining saline solution.  
  8. Throughly clean your Neti Pot after each use. Periodically place it in your dishwasher for a thorough sanitizing. Same as a toothbrush, do not share your Neti Pot with anyone else. Everyone in the household should have their own.
  9. If you experience burning in the nose, it often means you have not used enough salt. Make sure you are using a 1/4 teaspoon salt or an full scoop we include in our salt.
  10. You may notice improved breathing, smell and taste.
  11. If you experience any discomfort please discontinue using your neti pot and consult your doctor or other health care provider.
You may need to do a few simple exercises to expel any saline solution remaining in your nose. Everyone needs to do the first exercise; others will also need to do one or both of the others. The first few times you use the Neti Pot, try them all. Form a habit of doing any which cause water to drain from the nostrils.
1. Exhalations:
Exhale vigorously through both nostrils while holding your head over the sink. Quickly drawing the abdomen toward the spine with each exhalation will make your exhalations more forceful. If you exhale into a tissue, be careful not to pinch the nostrils closed while exhaling.
2. Forward Bending:
Bend forward from the waist far enough so that the top of the head is pointing toward the floor. Hold this position for a few seconds, then return to standing. Follow this movement with a few vigorous exhalations.
3. Alternate Toe Touching:
Place your feet two to three feet apart. Raise the arms out to the side at shoulder height. Slowly bend from the waist and bring the left hand to the right knee, shin, or foot (whichever you can reach without straining). Reach up toward the ceiling with the right hand; turn the head gently and look toward the raised hand. Hold this position for a few seconds. Come back to standing and repeat the movement to the left. Exhale vigorously through the nose.
When you’ve practiced this routine a few times, you’ll find it takes less time than brushing and flossing your teeth.

For some people, the nasal wash is as routine as brushing their teeth. Others use it for specific purposes. Suggestions:
  • Do the nasal wash to wake up, clear your nostrils, and start the day breathing freely.
  • Use it to remove excess mucus when you are experiencing nasal congestion.
  • Do it several times a day during the allergy season to rid the nostrils of pollen and other allergens.
  • Use the nasal wash when you’ve been exposed to soot, dust, smoke, or other airborne contaminants.
  • Use it to dissolve mucus build-up in dry climates or in air-conditioned or heated rooms or after air travel. Do the nasal wash before practicing systematic relaxation techniques or meditation to help you breathe freely and easily through your nose.
  • Remember, the nasal wash is not a substitute for medical treatment.
  • Anyone with chronic inflammation of the nasal passages or other ear, nose, or throat disorders should seek medical attention.
  • Soothes dry nasal passages
5 Reasons why it makes sense:

  1. Gently washes away dust, pollen, and environmental irritants
  2. Offsets the effects of breathing dry indoor air (especially in winter)
  3. Removes excess mucus naturally
  4. Helps you breathe freer when practicing yoga or meditation

Happy Nasal Cleaning and Have a Blessed Sunday All!

love and light,
Pattie