March 09, 2016

OSAKA DAY 1 - DOTONBORI AND SENSATIONAL MATSUSAKA WAGYU BEEF

It's been ages since I last posted about Japan but I'm back on track and I intend to finish documenting the whole trip here on Lucy Loves To Eat.

In May 2013, we went on a 2 week honeymoon to Japan. 3 years on, the memories are still so vivid because we had the time of our lives travelling through Japan and Japan is one of those places you'll never forget once you visit. We started in Tokyo, made our way to Kyoto, took a brief stop in Osaka and ended our honeymoon on the sub tropical beaches of Okinawa.

Osaka, here we come. 

After squeezing in a morning visit to Kiyomizudera Temple, we're ready to leave Kyoto and start the 3rd leg of our holiday; Osaka.

From Kyoto station, the train only takes around 30 minutes to get into Osaka Namba station. We've booked the Hotel Il Cuore Namba which is a 3 minute walk from the station and the location for this hotel is perfect for anyone wanting to be close to Namda station for express trains into Osaka airport and to make easy trips into Kyoto. 

It's worth noting that hotels are cheaper in Osaka than they are in Kyoto, so staying in Osaka is a budget friendly way to explore Kyoto.

Our room is the most spacious of all the other hotels we've stayed in Japan so far, and they have a bonus self service laundry room too. I knew I didn't want to pack over 2 weeks worth of clothes so a midway stop with laundry services was going to be essential, another reason why I ended up choosing this hotel. Prices were cheap too, around £45 per night.

We spend the afternoon in the laundry room but we're ready to head out by early evening. There's a large Muji store and Uniqlo near us and we go in for a quick browse. Prices are so much cheaper in Japan so we go in for a shopping sweep the next day. We didn't buy much in Tokyo and Kyoto since we knew we would be travelling and Osaka was our last chance to do some city shopping.  

Most of the shops in Osaka are covered in archways like this. Endless rows and rows of shops tempting you to empty your wallets. We're heading over to the bustling Dotonbori and after a pleasant 20 minute stroll, we are there.

Whoaaa... sensory overload! We're greeted with flashing lights, crazily large shop signage and super fun loving locals. The buzz we feel as we walk down the famous Dotonbori is completely different to Tokyo and Kyoto, we love the high energy vibe in Osaka.

Osaka is the home of takoyaki (octopus in doughy balls) so we make sure it's on our hit list. I've not been much of a fan of all the times I've eaten takoyaki but my mind was about to be blown.

Seriously wow wow wow. These were some super balls and after the first bite, I totally get why takoyaki have people falling over, they are so good!! A bouncy nubbin of octopus is wrapped in dough, pan fried in a takoyaki grill which is very similar to a waffle pan, and coated with Japanese BBQ sauce, mayo, and finished with bonito flakes and seaweed powder. Awesome stuff.

This is the awesome takoyaki stall with a huge octopus on top of the shop signage, you can't miss it as you walk down Dotonbori.

We're scoping out dinner options. This green dragon ramen joint looks good, but not quite what we were after.

Alaskan crab restaurant and a meanie yakitori eatery.

We venture just off Dotonbori and see this quaint little area. It was close to 8pm, I was hungry and G wanted to search for the Glico man. This led to a very heated argument since I don't do well when I'm hungry (!!!) and I stormed off down a little alley. And this is where we hit dinner jackpot.

A grill-your-own-beef-at-the-table restaurant stood right in front of us and after a bit more moaning "it's probably rubbish", G finally agreed to go in.

The beef restaurant turned out to be one specialising in Matsusaka beef, a black haired wagyu and one of the most famous types of beef in Japan along with Kobe beef and Omi/Yonezawa beef!     

At ¥6600 for the top grade beef, it's expensive at £43 but if we're going to do wagyu, we're doing it properly. It turned out to be one of the best meals of our honeymoon and worth every penny!

Complimentary pickled veg to start.

Our set. This wouldn't have been enough for the both of us usually, but we were planning on snacking some more on Dotonburi after dinner.

Oh, the way the beef melts as we chew sends us to beefy heaven. The fat marbling releases waves of flavour and the beef is so tender. We're given a set of dipping sauces and they make the beef taste even more incredible than they already were. I must have let out moans with every bite and chew, it was just sensational.

This was the lovely lady that served us and as we dined, she was incredibly sweet and tried to make conversation with us. Look at her dazzling smile!

Her English was limited as was our Japanese but don't fret, we both had Google translate... We managed to hold a conversation while using our phones along with lots of nodding and smiling. She added so much more to our already mind-blowing meal and we will always remember her fondly as The Osaka Beef Lady!

If you are ever planning a trip to Osaka, I can't recommend this restaurant more highly. We had friends who went recently, and I begged them to make sure they came here for a meal, no matter how packed their itinerary was and they nodded in agreement that it was one of the best meals they ate in Japan too. 

As you venture down Dotonbori (starting at the Alaskan crab restaurant), you'll come to the takoyaki joint about halfway down and it'll be on your left. Immediately to the right, there's a Family Mart and a side road that comes off Dontonbori. Walk down that side road and the beef restaurant is on the right. 

Address: 1 Chome-8-5 Dōtonbori, Chūō-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 542-0071, Japan

With totally satisfied bellies, we are in search of the Glico man. It's just on the river side which runs parallel to Dontonburi.

Banana milkshake for dessert.

There are love motels everywhere in Osaka. We heard they were super fun with massage chairs in the room, mood lighting and some more. Next time!

The neon lit river. What a great place to hang after dinner.

We come across a photo booth/games arcade on our way back to the hotel. Rilakkuma lured me in, though I refrain from playing. The photo booths churn out digitally enhanced photos and will make all that uses it look like fresh faced 16 yros.

Osaka has been mega fun and we have 1 full day tomorrow to explore some more.

16 comments

  1. Wow wow wow! This post makes me want to visit Japan even more than I already do!
    Those Takoyaki balls looks amazing too, I'm so jealous haha.

    P.s. So nice to find a fellow Asian blogger from the UK :)

    Jemini
    http://justjemini.blogspot.co.uk/
    https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/-just-jemini-3886904

    xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice to meet you Jemini! Japan is such an incredible country, once you have been you'll itch to go back again and again :)

      Delete
  2. Oh my goodness, I love the busy and on the go vibes ♥

    tipscapsule.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Trishna, it looks so fab doesn't it?!

      Delete
  3. Wow, it looks just amazing! All of those bright lights and crazy signs must be quite a site. I would also spend a LONG TIME in the photo booth/games arcade too, bet it was so much fun.

    Loving the Japan posts - as always :)

    Lyndsay | Fizzy Peaches Travel and Lifestyle Blog

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, Lyndsay, I think you need to plan a trip to Japan! =D
      Osaka is soooo much fun, we didn't know we would love it so much until we arrived!

      Thanks for always checking in on my posts :) x

      Delete
  4. I went to Osaka for exactly 12 hours last year and I really miss it! That beef marbling looks amazing, and love all the pics of the Glico man!

    Characters & Carry-ons

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow 12 hours, I hope you packed in to the max! Osaka is just so so much fun! Glico man is just so symbolic!

      Delete
  5. was the beef all-you-can-eat free flow?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, sorry for my late reply. No, not free flow, it comes as a set.

      Delete
  6. Thanks for this great post! I am about to venture off to Osaka for a travel story (all by myself) and would love to try great Osaka beef. The restaurant you mentioned looks like the place to go! Hope I will find it!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, that's amazing, you're gona have so much fun! Really glad you liked the post and fingers crossed you find that awesome beef restaurant! If you find it, do tag my on Instagram/Twitter @lucylovestoeat :)

      Delete
  7. Will do :-) I don't know in which issue the Osaka feature will come out next year but if you are interested subscribe to www.iflymagazine.com It is a great online travel magazine :-) (best viewed on desktop or laptop because of all the sound and animation effects)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Not to be a wet blanket, but judging by the signs of the shop you took, the Matsusaka wagyu you had seems to be just Osaka bred black wagyu. Matsusaka wagyu are bred in Mie Prefecture instead.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, thanks for letting me know, I had no idea...

      Delete
  9. Hello! Do you remember how many people the steak restaurant fits? There is 4 of us with a baby going so wondering if it will fit all of us. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete

Leave me a comment and make my day =)

© LUCY LOVES TO EAT
Maira Gall