I originally wanted to use the title employed for my previous trip to Berlin but decided against it. Like the weekend in Berlin, the Ōsaka trip was not made to sample the wares the city had to offer but the food merely the outcome of where I was when it was time to indulge.

The trip this time included a very brief detour to Kyōto, which happened the same afternoon I landed. I took the train from Ōsaka-eki to Kyōto and took another one to Saga-arashiyama. Now, ever since falling in love with this café in Omotesando a few years ago, I came to know of a place for great coffee in this touristy neck of the woods. How? Err… one of the lasses whom I follow on Insta moved here a few ye… anyway.

Coffee at %ARABICA

After doing one’s touristy activities at Togetsukyo in Arashiyama, one may want to drop by what I describe as a little box by the north bank of Hozu-gawa.

Now, apart from my reasons above, I think the coffee at this joint had to be good especially if it had been singled out in the Lonely Planet guide book, as well as the line of customers going beyond its doors onto the kerb. The daytime warmth was gently diminished by the then coolness of the evening, but I really felt like some iced coffee. The selection was quite basic – lattes, cappuccinos but I can’t remember there being a flat white in the Arashiyama menu. Took a number after placing my order with this lovely lass behind the counter. Despite the queue, the three-man barista team meant you didn’t have to wait very long for your coffee. The wait was about five minutes, max. The Arashiyama branch is a take away joint, although some customers opt to simply sit on the bench in front of the kiosk. If you worry about the lack of bins in Japan, the kiosk has one near the side entrance for your convenience.

To my surprise while looking up the company online – despite having its presence only in three Japanese stores in Kyōto (the other two – one in Higashiyama and the other in the Fujii Daimaru department store), %ARABICA has branched out with several existing and upcoming (London, Singapore, KL) outlets around the world. So, watch this space.

3-47 Sagatenryuji
Kyōto 616-8385
Opens daily 8AM – 6PM

Yakiniku at NARITAYA

The theme for a number of the eateries in this post is halal. The number of halal eateries serving genuine Japanese cuisine has increased tremendously since my visits in 2014, thanks to tourism and the 2020 Olympics. So, when I heard that there is a halal yakiniku in the Gion quarter of the city, I couldn’t give it a miss. Despite giving my cab driver the full address, it was a struggle for him to find the place. If you’ve been to Kyōto, a lot of the city look like back streets. The driver finally yielded and dropped me off the nearest he could to the restaurant. Luckily it was only a couple of hundred metres away and in a part of Gion which I recognised from four years ago.

The restaurant was full but it was worth the wait (about 20 minutes). For some reason or other, there was only one waiting staff. With the restaurant being halal, almost all of the other patrons were… Malaysian. The menu showed a few dinner sets and a wide range of à la carte selection. As this may well be my only visit on this trip, I went the whole hog – super deluxe yaki shabu, deluxe plate, scallops (hotate) and a bowl of rice. お腹ついた。

After taking my order, the waiter then wiped the surface of the grill with slabs of beef fat. The beef was well marbled and despite its large size raw, you may wish to cook it medium to maintain its “size”. Very tender and sweet. I don’t really need the special sauce that they provided, to tell you the truth. The chunkier meat pieces was just as marbled and in addition to the succulence, added some volume to each morsel I had. The scallops were… well, scallops. Just left it to sear on the grill for a couple of minutes and that was enough for me. I think I ordered a total of 5800円 worth (about USD58) – but it was soooo good. I took a gentle walk to Minami-za to *koff* burn some calories off before hailing a cab to the station.

Kyōto 605-0062
Opens daily 12PM-2PM, 4PM-9PM


I have eaten ramen at their Asakusa branch back in 2016, and since they had a branch near Shinsaibashi, my friend and I dropped by for some lunch before heading off to meet some other mates of ours in Sakurajima for the SCANDAL gig. They do have a little bit of everything else, like gyudon or kara-age – so, if you are looking for simple Japanese staples, you are spoilt for choice, really. On this trip, I actually had lunch here twice (the other time was literally the following day!).

The ramen broth this time was nice, and less salty than the Asakusa one. I have one issue, though – although it was prolly obvious after looking at its (not that expensive) price. It was one of the specials, which was a wagyu donburi that in my opinion was so not wagyu – chewy as whatever. Kinda spoilt my Sunday lunch. I’ll come back for ramen anyways since I don’t have that much option to have it elsewhere in this part of town.

1 Chome-7-23 Higashishinsaibashi
Ōsaka 542-0083
Opens daily 11AM-3PM, 5-10PM; 12-10PM on weekends

Tempura donburi at TENDON TENYA

This part needs only a short paragraph. A fav of mine since 2014, and a travesty as this was a Tōkyō establishment.

And we chose this branch in Nanba as a place to eat after the SCANDAL gig, despite being very close to Dōtonbori – the kitchen of Ōsaka, the centre of kuidaore[1] and all that. It was good, though. I had my usual bog standard tendon whilst some ordered tenzaru soba and the like. Can never go wrong at this place!

2 Chome-1-3 Nanba
Ōsaka 542-0076
Opens daily 10:30AM (11AM on weekends) – 11PM

mill pour

A short walk from Shinsaibashi subway station is this hole-in-the-wall serving organic coffee. I found it while Googling “best coffee in Ōsaka“, how else? The sole barista (nicknamed Zakku/Zack, can’t remember his real name) was very friendly and was happily indulging in conversation despite my halting nihon-go. While waiting for Zack-san to make my flat white, I noted the wooden decor as well as the range of organic beans on sale, as well as seeing hot dogs being in the menu!

The flat white was nicely done, as was the art. It was a tad less robust than what I am used to at Tamper, my local Kiwi coffee place, although it was likely the type of beans used – which I have zero knowledge about. I only drink ’em. There was no other patrons at the place, so I plopped myself at the front bench seeing (not much of, it was a Sunday) the world go by.

3-6-1 Minamisenba
Ōsaka 542-0081
Opens daily 8AM (10AM weekends) – 7PM

Depāto style dining at ŌSAKA STATION CITY

On 16F of the South Gate Building (or biru in Japanese) of the Ōsaka-eki is Umaimono[2] Plaza which houses a variety of eateries. It was my last evening in Ōsaka and I met up with a friend from Kyōto as I promised to (bravely) buy him a sushi dinner. Having a floor or two in a building or department store (depāto) dedicated to dining is typically Japanese. As neither of us planned this meal, this was the best option as they shut late and it was close to the station for my friend to take his train home. We managed to get a table at うを佐 (Uwosa). It was a bona fide sushi restaurant complete with a counter and everything. Next to our table was a large group of non-Japanese patrons (it looked like they were there on a conference or business trip) who seemed to be trying sushi for the first time.

Both of us ordered an omakase setto each of nine pieces of nigiri (meguro, shake/salmon – really?!, hotate, uni, tai, suzuki, ikura, ika and boiled ebi/prawn – what?!!). Don’t get me wrong – it was nice, but most of my best sushi experiences had been cheap and cheerful in semi-dingy establishments lol. Also, the idea of salmon and boiled prawn sushi feels so non-Japanese (even Tesco sells these), to me at least. We did mull over the decision to order more sushi, but I had the bright idea of going for okonomiyaki at a restaurant on the same floor. Unfortunately, it was full and we opted for coffee and cakes at this café called Eikokuya (カフェ英國屋), which literally is translated to English shop. Reminds me of that Benoist tea in the 2005 Densha Otoko drama.

I had a waffle/banana/ice cream combo coupled with iced black coffee, while my friend had a strawberry parfait of sorts with black coffee. Can’t fault the place, as this was a nice finish to an evening of food and conversation.

Umaimono Plaza
3 Chome-1-3 Umeda
Ōsaka 530-0001

Uwosa opens daily 11AM – 11PM.
Café Eikokuya opens daily 10AM – 11PM.

[1]食い倒れ – to ruin oneself by extravagance in food. Just about.
[2]Delicious thing.