Friday, October 30, 2009

Bo Innovation

Alvin Leung is the tattooed, long-haired demon chef of Bo Innovation, the 2 Michelin starred restaurant famed for its take on molecular gastronomy. Dinner there can cost upwards of HKD1000, so good friends and I settle on the HKD198 lunch. On the day I finally sashay over to the second floor of a side street in Wan Chai, who do I see lording it over the kitchen but a chef with long bangs and tattooed arms in a sleeveless black chef's uniform -- so for a moment there I thought the demon chef would be cooking our lunch. But on second glance I realize it's not him, which is a bummer but totally understandable given that we were there for the less expensive and less varied lunch set.

Appearances of chefs aside, the all important question is: Did Bo live up to its reputation? I'm not an expert on molecular gastronomy, having eaten at El Bulli only in my dreams, and I have yet to muster the courage to splash on Bo's dinner chef's menu or tasting menu, so I can't say my opinion truly counts. But for those who are interested, let's just say I didn't die and go to foodie paradise, but I would go back for dinner. They should turn down the air-conditioning though. It was a freezer inside. The pinpricks of sunlight that danced on our skin when we left were oh so welcome. Maybe we should have eaten on the casual terrace outside.

We were greeted by this unique place setting with a diagonal fork rest.

My companions and I ordered the set lunch with different dishes so we could taste them all. This was my friend M's savory foie gras bread pudding, which was tiny, rich and had a hint of 5 spice powder.

Two golden orbs of scallops with dollops of fragrant kaffir lime sauce peeking through. This dish was an easy favorite. Imagine a bite of soft scallops followed by an intense flavor hit from the tangy, zesty, creamy sauce.

P's foie gras potsticker. A lone piece of luxury. It tasted like potsticker with foie gras inside. Decadent. I really can't be more poetic or descriptive than that.

Porcini "fun gor", deep moss green steamed dumplings filled with exquisite porcini mushrooms. A sensual, inspired creation that could convert a carnivore. Slippery sliced porcini encased in a thin, light, dumpling wrap.

"lap mei fan", steamed rice with preserved meats in normal restaurants, but Bo is anything but normal. Steamed rice is reincarnated as rice krispies, and preserved sausage is not to be seen, but tasted. The white ice cream underneath the krispies was redolent with the flavor of sausages and Chinese wine. There was also a hint of duck powder. Texture and temperature wise this dish was a revelation. One expects the krispies to be sweet, like the cereal, but it's bland, and the ice cream is anything but. It's as if they distilled the essence, the soul, of a Chinese sausage and magically transformed it into tongue-numbing cold ice cream. A fascinating dish, but it will do nothing to tame hunger. So men with big appetites beware, this restaurant is not for you.

Oxtail "xiao long bao" with avruga caviar. The best looking of the lot but the least attractive to our taste buds. I prefer the genuine xiao long bao. This one had a too-thick skin and insipid broth, like an older fowl with a tough exterior and tasteless meat.

Starch du jour: rice with fish roe. 2 words: more! more!

Duck with green salad and crispy taro. Not a memorable dish, except for the sweetish sauce and the hidden duck meat inside the taro shell. Now that was a nice surprise since I was wondering how one itsy-bitsy piece of duck leg could possibly tide me over for lunch!

"Ballotine of Chicken beggar-style, lotus flavor". Now this is something I would order again. Beggar chicken in Chinese restaurants is more of a showy dish than anything, flamboyant in presentation but lacking punch. Not so with this winner. Each bite begged (no pun intended) to be savored, the sauce was something you wanted to lick, if you were in the privacy of your home.

24-hours cooked pork lasagna, a quail egg yolk sitting pertly atop. P beamed when she saw the egg. As hinted at by the name, this dish was composed of many layers of pork slices that probably bathed gently in a vinegar and sugar braising liquid (an upgraded Chinese adobo). Now after 24 hours in a gentle bath, it's only right that one feels soft, smooth and silky, which was how the pork felt on the tongue. Sometimes, though, it's a case of too much of a good thing-- this dish was too sweet, the seasoning too intense, we all felt bored after a few bites.

Dessert was a simple affair: a chocolate pastry boat filled with souffle. The sprinklings you see on the side are not reddish cocoa or colored icing sugar but a berry dust (I'm guessing raspberry). I've never encountered such a crackly shell in my life! Each time my fork or knife came near a small bit would jump onto my napkin. In case you're wondering, I would pick the bits up and eat them. They were delightful, after all.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Hospital Food

If hospitals all over the world serve what Matilda International in HK does, I think there would be a spike in admissions, longer-staying patients, and more visitors than usual.

My 7-day stay in this lovely place overlooking the harbour (with fabulous, sweeping views of Aberdeen, Lamma Island, and the few breathtaking mansions that line the Peak) was made all the more special because of the menu. Before I get into that, though, let me say that Matilda also has what it takes to be a premier medical facility.

Are the doctors professional yet reassuring? Yes. Mine were more than competent and a joy to encounter. Are the nurses and midwives knowledgeable, accessible and friendly? Most definitely. There were several Pinoys and it was great to be chatting to them in Tagalog. Are the facilities adequate? It's a 100-year old hospital blessed with modern equipment, spic and span public spaces while maintaining a classic, homey ambiance in the rooms (one friend thought I was in a bedroom with a hospital bed when she saw pictures).

What sets this hospital apart, though, is the food. Rumor has it a former hotel chef runs the kitchen, and after a week of "ordering" three meals a day, I can say with certainty that whoever is boss of that distant universe where my meals come from, can cook, and cook well. Oh, lest I forget let me say the plating is mighty pretty too (especially the salads).

Most hospitals will give you a choice of dishes from a very short (and blah-sounding) list. Some will just deliver tasteless looking mush on a tray, hoping you will be ravenous enough to finish it off and thank them for it (not to mention pay for it as part of your bill). At Matilda there is a menu to choose from, with both Western and Oriental breakfasts and main dishes, vegetarian options, pasta, sandwiches, soup, salad and dessert. The descriptions are well-written, similar to a restaurant, with nutritional info for each dish. Quite understandably, the prices can be steep compared to other HK hospitals. This isn't a problem for patients, who as part of their package are allowed to order 1 starter or dessert and 1 main dish for lunch and dinner, as well as their choice of breakfast. Family and friends who visit or stay have to pay, and pay they do, because they also want a taste of the food!

Here is a list of what I've been eating, and what family/friends have been ordering since I was admitted:

Peach juice, oatmeal cereal, bakery basket and fresh fruits
Congee with sweet corn and steamed pork and vegetable bun
Congee with mixed beans and seeds with steamed barbeque pork bun
Congee with minced pork with wok-fried rice vermicelli with chicken
Grapefruit juice with all-bran cereal, bakery basket and fresh fruits
Sausage Omelette with toast

Cappa Ham with Artichoke Heart Platter
Chicken Consomme with Vegetables Julienne
Mixed Garden Vegetable Soup
Potato and Leek Soup (Little boy loves this!)
Club Sandwich with Chips
Wheat Baguette with Smoked salmon and Salad
Baked Free-range Chicken Breast with Herb Sauce and Steamed Rice
Grilled Rib-Eye of Beef with Herb Gravy and Mashed Potato
egg Noodle in Soup with Wonton
Sweet and Sour Pork
Wok-fried Fish Fillet with Celery (the fish was tough and overcooked, I guess you can't have everything)
Wok-Fried Broccoli with Chicken (I have to say that Matilda wins hands down when it comes to Western dishes, their Chinese ones could improve)
Grilled Mixed Vegetables Salad with Feta Cheese and Balsamic Dressing
Pan-Fried Salmon with Balsamic Glaze, Pine Nuts and Baked Potato
Cream of Mushroom Soup
Tomato Basil Soup
Papaya with Black Dates and Peanut Soup (I was feeling very "health-conscious" after delivery)
Wheat Pita with Grilled Vegetables and Avocado Dip
Wheat Linguine with Mixed Mushrooms and Parmesan

Not bad, wouldn't you say? :)

Baked Pistachio-crusted Sea Bass with Mashed Potato

Caesar Salad

Baked Spaghetti Bolognese

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Trying New Restos and Loving Them!

Living in Hong Kong can make a foodie out of even the most food-averse of souls. There are restaurants everywhere; in commercial areas, malls, office buildings, markets, quiet residential streets, a nunnery, temple, up the mountain, by the beach. Name the location, and HK is sure to have an eatery or food store around the corner. Food just assaults the senses, from the moment one steps off the plane, boat or bus. You can find almost all kinds of cuisine the world has to offer if you are resourceful enough. You can eat out every single day for every meal and not repeat a restaurant for a year. This is what makes HK so exciting for me. I cannot adequately describe the awe I feel at eating at a place older than I am, the delight at being lucky enough to eat at Michelin-starred temples of food, the adrenalin rush that comes with planning a food sojourn somewhere out-of-the-way, the anticipation in trying out a new restaurant, the pure joy that courses through me when I pop something innovative and truly well made in my mouth.

For the past month I've been fortunate enough to be able to try three out of four new places with the people I enjoy being with the most: my 2 boys. Hubby and son are creatures of comfort and they have their favorites, as do most people, so we tend to gravitate towards the tried and tested. When I'm alone or with adventurous friends we try new places, even hyped-up ones (I am admittedly a sucker for hype).

With Franco from one of my favorite Manila food blogs tableforthreeplease I ate at the Shanghainese private kitchen Gong Guan. This was to kick start the weekend habit of trying out new places. Last Father's Day we gobbled up Fu Sing's yummy dimsum. Tonight we ate refined and delicate Cantonese cuisine at Island Tang. Tomorrow brunch is at the Press Room, a New-York style eatery with an interesting brunch menu.

Island Tang is an oasis of calm in the middle of the rush hour pathway that is Queen's Road Central. They say it's quite crowded and noisy at lunch so dinner is the way to go. The place is decorated in the 1940's style, with comfortable chairs spaced reasonably apart, so unlike most Cantonese restaurants that try to squeeze tables in every imaginable space. There are ceiling fans, chandeliers, mirrored private rooms, and a beautiful condiment tray bearing cut glass bottles of soya sauce, Chinese vinegar, salt, pepper, chili paste and chili oil. The service is unobtrusive yet attentive, and we were given tiny servings of a bean curd skin roll with crunchy (bamboo shoots? this is my guess, I forgot to ask) salad mixed with mayonnaise to start with. Our server then proceeded to take our order and recommend dishes. He noticed me studying the chopsticks and explained that they were made of buffalo bone, which explains the color variation.

After a pleasant interlude our dimsum appetizers came. We ordered the steamed crab and egg white dumpling and puff pastry wrapped wagyu beef and mushroom, both highly recommended by our knowledgeable server. The dumpling skin was very thin and soft, and held a juicy interior with the most delicate of flavor, as opposed to blandness. There was nothing overwhelming about this dish, yet its simplicity made it all the more attractive. The wagyu was the perfect partner, then. It was rich and redolent of fatty beef flavor coupled with the sensuousness of slippery mushrooms. Not very Chinese, this dish, but very haute cuisine and definitely a winner.

Some notable dishes include the kale (choi sum) with ginger and rice wine, nice and crunchy yet soft, and the cha siu which was melt in your mouth tender, and without the sweetness of Fu Sing's sauce (so hubby likes this more because he's not a fan of sweet food).

Not all restaurants are perfect though, and I have to say the peking duck 2-ways did not elicit moans and groans around the table. Though not disappointing; in fact the pancake wrapper was a nice discreet size, almost paper-thin and a joy to chew; the flesh wasn't as tender or tasty, the skin not as crispy or fatty as that of Peking Garden. The lettuce with minced duck meat was cut with scalloped scissors to a perfect bowl shape, definitely eye candy, but lacking in ooomph, flavor-wise. A fried noodle dish with chicken and satay was forgettable.

We missed out on a lot of the other dishes on the menu, since we were only 5, but my eyes were drawn to the seafood in hot and sour soup (and all the other soups, for that matter), the roasted pork belly which they ran out of, deep-fried frog's legs, all the seafood choices, traditional braised duck with eight treasure (my mom makes a mean braised duck), roasted crispy pigeon, stewed wagyu beef cheek, and spare ribs with sweet and sour strawberry sauce. Good thing we live in HK so there's always a next time!

Island Tang can be found at shop 222, The Galleria, 9 Queen's Road Central.
+852 2526 8798. It's by Shanghai Tang founder David Tang, and is reminiscent of China Club, which is also a favorite, but since it's for members only and I'm not one, I'll settle for Island Tang. :)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dimsum at Fu Sing

If there's anything HK does well, it would be dimsum and roasts.

Where to go for dimsum in HK if you want:

Touristy, noisy and cavernous: Maxim's at City Hall
Popular, small and not that easy to find: Dimsum in Happy Valley
Full of locals, noisy and of average quality: Metropol
Quiet, relaxed atmosphere: Moon Koon at the Happy Valley Racecourse
Other popular places: Victoria City, Treasure Lake
The best cha siu appetizer and cha siu bao I've had so far? Fu Sing in Lockhart Road.

Today, Father's Day, we squeezed ourselves (me more than hubby and son because I'm 8 mos preggy) into a tight dining space to enjoy some cha siu, cha siu bao, steamed shrimp dumpling, fried sticky dumpling, lotus wrapped sticky rice with steamed yellow chicken and wolfberry, fried vermicelli and crystal noodle with shrimp, and the best of the lot: fried taro and scallop spring rolls.

Their a la carte menu looked so interesting as well, and I spent some time craning my neck to check out what other tables ordered. I think it's time to arrange a lunch or dinner with friends in the coming weeks!

Fu Sing: 1/F, Sunshine Plaza, 353 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai. +852 2893 0881.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Private Kitchen Pictures

cold tofu appetizer

marinated cold and thinly sliced beef shin

soy braised tofu skin with black mushroom

very spicy and crunchy bamboo shoots

eggplant with pork floss and sesame seeds

crunchy cucumber sticks with cold peanut sauce

bland tofu and fish soup to cleanse the palate

best dish of the night: thin bread, sweet ham and crunchy tofu skin

eaten like a sandwich

braised chicken pieces

steamed fish

surprisingly tasty white cabbage with wolfberries and garlic slivers

tender braised pork with dried plums

fried rice to end the meal

Warm sesame dumplings in barley soup was our dessert. Tea and hot water washed all this down.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Private Kitchen Dinner

How private is a "private" kitchen in HK? Well, for one, they won't accept bookings of less than 8 people. If there are only two of you, forget it, their doors and kitchen will remain closed, unless you're wiling to pay for the non-existent six. Secondly, they want to remain hidden, so getting there can be a pain sometimes. Thirdly, they don't issue official receipts and lastly, they do not have a menu so you have to eat what they serve you, like it or not.

So if you have a problem with getting lost, eating in a non-licensed, most likely non tax-paying place, and having to shovel down food you might not be familiar with, go to a MacDonald's instead. Private kitchens are for the adventurous, the cowboys and cowgirls, the true foodies, the gluttons, the ones who like to be surprised (pleasantly or not), the ones who don't mind spending for food.

In the presence of such a group, I tried a famous Shanghainese private kitchen tonight. Nice digs, and six small appetizer plates plus eight courses later, I was full to bursting. When I asked the chef how many courses there would be, he burst out in the usual cryptic and curt manner of Chinese chefs: "many many". And indeed, there were "many many", some of them done superbly, others a bit more average but enjoyable nonetheless.

And for dessert? For how could one skip dessert? Roshan's thick, soft, Ghirardelli chocolate chip cookies from Manila. Thank you Franco.

Pictures, c/o Acky Ferreria, to follow.

Gong Guan can be found at the 12/F, Fung Woo Building, 279 Des Veoux Road Central, Sheung Wan. +852 2577 9789.


Hubby and I like our paella, but I've never tried making this dish at home. We hie off to Spanish restos here in HK (which are not as good as those in Manila), and share an expensive paella while trying to outdo each other at getting to the all-too-little chorizos.

Making it at home means we could have all the chorizos, mussels and prawns we would like, so deciding to get a paella pan was a no-brainer. There's a hidden Spanish food/crockery/gift item supplier in an alleyway off Central. I got my pan, my paella rice, and (yes, I am a cheater!) a can of sofrito. In a small store called EuroTreat in Soho I bought some paella seasoning long ago and it had a minute amount of saffron in it, so I didn't bother with the much more expensive saffron strands. I will spend for them next time!

Using my friend's recipe found here, I rustled up some pretty good paella one night, chock-full of seafood and Portuguese chorizo from Macau (which I prefer more than Spanish chorizo), with artichoke hearts to boot!

My pan is now oiled and resting, waiting for another paella night. Soon.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Hubby and friends say I spend a lot on groceries, eating out and food in general. Maybe I do, but I'm still a pretty thrifty shopper. I go to the wet markets and local groceries more often than the gourmet shops, and I never, ever buy basic necessities in places that sell foie gras or have a cheese and deli meat counter.

I do salivate over the barrels of olive oil and artisanal vinegars on display, and drool over bottles of exotic herbs and spices. I'm like a kid in a toy store when in the kitchen gadgets section, and my eyes sparkle when I see rows of chocolate bars. These products beckon, and tempt, and beguile, but I do have a household budget to consider.

So when I am gifted with amazing food products, I am speechless with delight.

Some of the best gifts ever (and they're not necessarily expensive):

1. 2 bottles of truffle olive oil from houseguests years ago
2. vials of vanilla pod and salt with herbs from France
3. a free box of exotic salts (4 kinds) from City Super during my b-day month
4. homemade bangus relleno from a friend's Tita
5. bangus from LVM in Cavite which a friend's mom buys for us
6. a bottle of hazelnut oil from a friend leaving for Australia
7. a huge jar of manuka honey from New Zealand
8. a bottle of green curry paste and spicy bagoong from Thailand
9. Laduree macarons from France

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What I Loved in Japan

Our very first meal in Japan was something familiar, unhealthy and definitely available in HK. No, it wasn't McDonald's (thank goodness). We ate at Tonkatsu Wako, a very affordable restaurant serving all manner of deep-fried pork cutlet, with some chicken cutlets and oysters thrown in for good measure. The rice and miso soup with tiny, fingernail-sized clams are refillable, and so is the shredded cabbage that the Japanese drizzle yuzu dressing on. In HK Tonkichi at the World Trade Center is a family favorite, they deep-fry well and properly (in other words, all crunch and no grease), little boy loves the sesame seeds you pound in a special ridged pestle, and they have 2 tangy salad dressings to choose from. Wako was definitely nowhere close to Tonkichi. While the servings were huge, each bite left a slightly oily aftertaste. Since we were exhausted and famished it didn't matter, especially since the yellow mustard sauce (Japanese horseradish) and the tonkatsu sauce (a fruity concoction the Japanese use like catsup) were there to save the day.

Funny enough, the next day for lunch we had deep-fried and unhealthy all over again. I had wanted to try a kushiya place when I first visited Japan a few years back but wasn't able to. So Sis-in-law (SIL) and her gang brought us to one. In this eat-all-you-can palace of battered and breaded goodness you get 2 hours to snatch whatever you want from the display. I can recall: eggplant, okra, peppers, lotus root, asparagus, pumpkin, onions, potatoes, pork, beef cubes, chicken thigh, chicken breast, chicken liver, chicken gizzard, mochi, shrimp, scallop, salmon cubes, rice with dried scallops, plain rice, udon which you cook and garnish yourself, curry sauce, miso soup, various salads, an array of sweets, sauces galore and a drinks bar. The bite-sized vegetables, meat and seafood were on thin bamboo skewers (just one on each skewer). On the table were shallow bowls filled with a viscous white batter and breadcrumbs. At the center of the table was a built-in fryer filled to the brim with hot oil. Around the fryer you could place your cooked food to drain. I ate 3 bowls of udon, countless shrimp, gizzard, scallop and pumpkin and was so full afterwards I found it hard to get up! Little boy enjoyed cooking for himself. I found myself craving for the potato salad tossed in a curious creamy fish roe sauce that SIL says is popular in Japan and is used for pasta as well. Guess how much our kushiya feast cost? A little above P600 per person, or HKD 100. What a bargain!

One day in Ginza we decided to eat at this place offering rice bowls. I wasn't interested in meat and ordered the soup instead and here's what I got:

a heavy serving bowl set atop blue flames

which was filled with a very spicy and garlicky soup, thick chewy noodles, some slivers of pork, mushrooms aplenty and sliced eggplant. It tasted a bit too Chinese for me, and normally I love Chinese, but I wanted something lighter.

my brother-in-law and boss were raving about Japanese ramen and the volcano eggs that come with it. volcano eggs are boiled eggs whose centers are slightly cooked, chewy, silky and creamy at the same time. I am happy enough with Sapporo in IFC, with their very refreshing miso broth, but being in Japan I had to try an authentic ramen place.

I got the specialty, topped with seaweed and sliced pork so tender and savory it reminded me of my mom's Fookien-style "humba". Hubby got the eggs since he's the egg lover in the family. They had gyozas too, but the gyozas I bought form the basement food store of Mitsukoshi in Ginza were so delicious everything I had afterward paled in comparison.

One can't go to Japan and not eat strawberry mochi. I bought this beauty in a specialty shop in Ginza, that chi-chi part of Tokyo and it cost a whopping P135 each. The strawberry inside was huge and very sweet, and the mochi itself sticky and delicious, so I decided to forget the cost and just enjoy my sweet. The mochis in Kyoto were the best I've had though, especially since it was mochi season when I went 2 years ago and there was such an array of fresh ones to choose from it was bedazzling and befuddling at the same time. I never buy the prepackaged ones at the airport. They just don't taste the same.

At Universal studios I spied a long line waiting to buy hotdogs at this cart. Being the sucker for hype that I am (I queued up for a gyoza bun at Disney Sea, which is simply gyoza wrapped in siopao-like buns and wasn't yummy at all), I walked to the cart with aching feet and bought a hotdog that I though would at least have some relish on it, only to find out it was drearily similar to the plain old hotdog sandwich at HK Disneyland. Adding to my dismay was the horror of being served small sachets of catsup and mustard you tear open and drizzle on top. Oh well. You win some, you lose some.

I wasn't too happy about the hotdog but wolfed it down anyway, the took a leisurely stroll around a New York neighborhood and spotted this photo op just beyond an alley.

At Minami Osawa (a sprawlng complex of outlet shops which makes one think they're in the States) I found a French pastry shop selling tarts and puddings. I got myself a wedge of this berry-topped pudding. It was spongy and eggy, and like most Japanese sweets, not heavy on the sugar at all. I liked it but found the wedge too big for one person to consume.

Also at Minami Osawa we ate at this place called a sakura suisan (an izakaya of sorts where workers take a cheap but filling meal similar to what they would eat at home). I had the sukiyaki and although my picture looks very bad, the dish itself was very good. The broth was sweetish without being overwhelming, the slivers of beef quite tender and the vegetables and noodles just the perfect quantity. They serve most of their noodle soups with rice in Japan, similar to what Pinoys call pancit ulam (noodles as viand), so you can imagine how very full I felt. SIL ordered some deep-fried oysters for us to try and it was golden brown and crunchy and full of briny fresh oyster goodness inside. The oysters were oozing their juice, the flesh pillow-soft.

At another sakura suisan where we had dinner one night I got to try this grilled saba fillet along with the ubiquitous Japanese-style garlicky fried chicken that's heavenly with a squeeze of lemon juice, some fried chicken tendons served with purplish salt, cubes of tuna grilled and served on a hot plate looking like beef salpicao, tofu hotpot, and a Japanese-style papaitan. It's great eating out with a Japanese because otherwise you can't eat at a home-style sakura suisan. There are no pictures, and everything is in Japanese.

I am a fan of strawberries and bought a pack at a grocery near our hotel. Look at how fake they look with the dewy, bright red skin...

... hiding such sweet, sweet flesh. Mmmmmmmm

Froyos are all the rage nowadays and though I haven't tried any in Manila, here in HK Ive tried 3 places and they all taste average to me. In Osaka SIL and I tried a place called the Golden Spoon. I had my usual strawberry froyo, she ordered the chocolate because the Reese flavor wasn't available (oh sadness!). Each was served with a golden plastic spoon (SIL and I had an a-ha! moment when we spied the spoons). Were they good? Were they? Let's just say if I could have some right now, I would have 3 cups.

If you are a takoyaki fan, like me, you would have jumped with joy at seeing this sign. I couldn't jump, being 5 months heavy with my 2nd child, so I grinned a silly grin for several minutes instead.

Inside the "museum" are 4 takoyaki vendors selling differing styles of these famous octopus balls. We tried the smallish ones pictured here, served without any sauce or garnish, and I was disappointed. SIL says the large ones at Ueno and Asakusa in Tokyo topped with mayo, okonomiyaki sauce with paper thin katsuoboshi (dried bonito flakes) are heaps better and I have to agree. Maybe somewhere else in Osaka there is a takoyaki for gourmands. It is where the dish originated from, after all. Good thing my dinner saved the day! I ate by my lonesome at an udon place where you pick up a a tray, choose a broth, get some fried stuff as topping and slurp away!

Our last meal before flying out was at this dark basement izakaya with no English on the menu. Salmon strips and dried fish stared balefully as we walked past the grill. My tummy was rumbling and my senses were on full alert. Instinctively I knew we were to have good meal ahead of us.

Our orders grilling...

I had the chicken teriyaki bento with extra orders of grilled chicken wings, chicken gizzard and liver on the side. Ahh, the smoky scent, the crisp burnt bits, the splash of lemon. Yum.

We also tried different kinds of saba fillet, some were salty like our own native "daing", some were bland but with an interesting sauce brushed on. All in all, a genuinely Japanese meal. Burp!

You might be wondering why we never had sushi or sashimi. Hubby's very thoughtful family decided to just eat all cooked food while we were there. Being preggy and a raw fish lover they knew I would just get frustrated and envious. Little boy had salmon sahimi several times though. It's his absolute favorite!

I have to mention, before I end this entry which is making me hungrier by the minute, that I had a superb bento lunch in Osaka composed of a light and refreshing udon soup with grilled eel, a multitude of pickles, and steamed brown rice with vegetables. I think I love udon much much more than ramen or any other Japanese dish except sashimi. Which sorta explains the number of pounds I gained on the trip. :)