We arrived in Osaka late at night and after checking into our hotel we were in desperate need of a feed and lucky for us there in the basement floor of our building was filled with restaurants. Since we are in the birth place of takoyaki no trip to Osaka is complete with having a takoyaki feast so we found ourselves walking into Takonotetsu Pizza Ball House. I'm not really sure why they're called "pizza ball house" when it's not really a pizza at all… Takoyaki literally means grilled octopus and is a perfect ball of pan-fried batter encasing small pieces of octopus with spring onions, tenkasu (tempura flakes), pickled ginger and topped off with Japanese mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce and katsuobushi (bonito flakes).
The restaurant walls are lined with retired takoyaki grill plates and had an izakaya atmosphere to it – rowdy, full and abuzz. They had so many different types of takoyaki so it was hard to choose, even harder as I had to explain each type to Bill but eventually we decided to order takoyaki (580yen) and curry takoyaki (680yen) and also a modern okonomiyaki (800yen). Our drink of choice for the night was lime chuhai – chuhai is a cocktail with soda and lemon mixed with shochu a vodka-like distilled liquor. With our drinks in tow we start to tackle cooking our own takoyaki – our table even comes with instructions!
1. Grease our takoyaki grill plates and our waitress places a couple of dices of octopus into each well.
2. Pour in the takoyaki batter.
3. Add whatever we want – some shallots, benishoga (pickled ginger) and lots and lots of tenkasu.
4. Ready to turn our ingredients into perfect takoyaki balls.
The guys at Golo Tako at the Friday night markets make it look so easy but we were having trouble turning the batter into balls so Bill bravely asked the manager to help us. The manager was a colourful character and with his limited english taught us how to twirl the batter really fast and once he finished his demo he yelled out "CHALLENGE!" and so we went right ahead trying. Eventually we kind of mastered the art of shaping the batter into a perfect ball – the secret is it's all in the wrist 😉
Once they resemble small golf balls drizzle okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise on top and sprinkle with some katsuobushi and aonori and we're done. Ours turned out quite good the exterior was crunchy and the batter was soft and was piping hot as it oozed out. I think it was more delicious because we made it ourselves!
We were keen to go to a few more of these DIY takoyaki houses to try again and master the art of twirling perfectly shaped takoyaki balls but sadly we didn't have enough time. Fully satisfied we retired to our small and cosy hotel room to watch some crazy Japanese game shows one of which involved a competition of whose dog can wag their tail the most within a minute….
I love travelling…and Bill loves travelling for and with me XP We love spending quality time together, the freedom of walking and exploring new cities and having ten meals a day. However, as much as I'd like to say we're the same type of travellers – we're definitely not – in fact we're completely different I'm a meticulous planner and he likes to go with the flow, I like to start early in the day and he prefers to sleep in which leads us to bicker and quarrel but somehow we manage and are grateful and love the priceless experiences we've gained from travelling with each other. We've only just begun travelling together but hopefully we'll be able globetrot around the world and I don't believe you can really "do" a city during a short holiday so I forsee many more repeated trips to come. So I've decided to really start a travel log to share our experiences with you and our relatives overseas but mostly for us to reminisce on those travels. Bill recently asked if he had missed my Japan posts, but actually I hadn't even begun but that's all about to change…now!
Japan April 2011
Unfortunately the weeks leading up to our holiday to Japan was filled with grief and uncertainty for personal reasons and the apocalyptic situation in Northern Japan. To each their own and we had the hard decision of postponing or going ahead with our trip but after careful discussion with my family in Japan, my parents and friends living in various areas of Japan we decided to re-jig our itinerary and focus our time in Southern Japan and we did not regret it. I often joke to Bill that Japan is superior in every way which is totally biased but I digress…Japan is unique and a world apart from anywhere else. There was so much to absorb – the sights, the culture, the food oh-the-food! – everything just tastes so much better in Japan. I tried to get as much of a variety for Bill to experience but I don't think we even tried many specialities. However most of all, Bill was mostly affected and overwhelmed by the nature of Japanese people more than anything – the humility, respect and general social harmony which was evidence that Japan would come out stronger out of the crisis. People often ask me if I'd ever live in Japan and my answer would always be a no and I'd be pretty adamant about it as I've always felt that the lifestyle wouldn't suit me. However I think we both left our hearts in Japan last April as we'd both seriously consider it – so much that we couldn't wait to go back… so we're off again in November and I CAN.NOT.WAIT! Let's see how many posts I can share with you all before then.
I’ve been to Sake twice more after my first visit with these lovely girls…way back when it was really hot during the Sydney summer…so I totally thought I’d blogged about this already, my bad.
Sake Japanese Restaurant & Bar (12 Argyle St, The Rocks) was the newest addition to the Argyle Precint at The Rocks serving contemporary Japanese food. First order of our summer lunch was ordering some cocktails to cool ourselves, I think most of us chose the girly Pink Blossom a cocktail mix of summer fruits and umeshu and it was just what I wanted and I loved crunching on those passionfruit seeds. Of course after seeing Sushi Chef Shaun Presland on Masterchef we could not forgo the sashimi tacos. The crunchy sashimi tacos are delicate and I loved the fresh salsa with the tuna and the sake shot went down rather smoothly. Chirashi sushi is one of my favourite dishes to indulge in Japan, so I was curious to see what the Chirashi salad was like and it was easily my favourite dish and one of the main reasons why I’ve returned to Sake. It was a deceptively simple salad presented with lashings of mayonnaise concealing a salad of sashimi pieces and soba noodles, omelette, and the best thing about it was the tenkasu – I’ve ordered this each time I’ve been back – it’s that good.The sashimi combo was the highlight for most with delicate pieces of fresh sashimi-grades slices sitting atop a bed of ice, hehe I was so happy to see slices of bonito besides the usual salmon and tuna. Other dishes we ordered was the grilled scampi cooked prefectly so the meat was easily pulled apart from the shell and the popcorn shrimp roll filled with bite sized prawn tempura pieces. Though we had plans to have dessert at La Renaissance patisserie we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try a couple of desserts at Sake. Desserts containing tofu is not unusual in Asian cuisines so we chose the Orange Tofu Cheesecake which was presently so prettily and I really enjoyed the subtlely of flavours of the tofu and Grand Marnier. The Frozen yuzu souffle was not quite what we imagined, it was more like a mousse than a souffle but I absolutely love the yuzu flavour and the I would have happily licked the miso-ginger caramel off the plate.
I was amazed at the amount of space in the restaurant and it’s ability to cater for all types of diners as we walked past the huge private dining rooms, smaller private rooms and dined surrounded by intimate booths too. Our waiter was charming and friendly and the atmosphere in the restaurant was abuzz. Sometimes I’m a bit skeptical of fancy takes on Japanese food but I’d happily come again and again for the funky and contemporary menu of Sake and kick back with plenty of delicious cocktails.
Sake Restaurant and Bar
The Pink Blossom
Strawberries, citrus fruits, passionfruit smashed & combined with umeshu and cranberry juice
tuna and salmon sashimi filled baby tacos with chilled tomato salsa matched with Kozaemon Junmai ‘sake shots’
Yuzu-dressed sashimi pieces, crunchy salad mix, thin noodles, sliced sushi omelette & flying fish roe topped with daikon tsuma & tempura crunch
Sashimi combo classic
grilled green tea salted scampi on daikon ribbon salad with yuzu dressing
prawn-tempura pieces rolled inside out with spicy mayonnaise and spicy tobiko
Orange Tofu Cheesecake
Grand Marnier tofu cheesecake with white sesame seed tuille
Frozen yuzu souffle
citrus-infused souffle with miso-ginger caramel sauce
Sadly last year due to holidays I was unable to attend Billy from A Table for Two’s photography workshop so when I found out Simon from The Heart of Food would be holding a photography class, with no hesitation I (or my sugar daddy to be exact) snapped up the opportunity to attend the inaugural Food Photography class. There was no particular topic I was interested in, I just wanted to learn more about the process and thought/creativity which goes into photography. Other food bloggers in attendance were Mel, Chanel, Laura and Gaby – but there were a mix of people, I particularly admired the food technology teachers wanting to inspire their kids more by incorporating food photography into their classes.
The class was held at MUMU Grill (76 Alexander Street, Crows Nest) who served us a delicious lunch spread which made it hard for me to wait until all the photo taking was over. Must bring the steak-loving boyfriend here because the sirloin tagliatta was ahh-mazing! And the duck fat potatoes were fluffy and so goddamn tasty. Oh and I totally could have eaten the cherry tomato salad in spoonfuls it was light and refreshing and a nice to eat in between mountains of jamon serrano.
For $90 (at the time of posting) it was definitely 5hours on a Saturday very well spent! Simon was a great teacher, the class was casual and not intimidating at all – we were free to ask questions which Simon very patiently and kindly answered for us. Those that lingered back even got private lessons on specific techniques! Though Simon hasn’t got any further classes scheduled you can always register your interest by visiting The Heart of Food. I left a very happy chappy leaving the class a little more knowledgeable and a belly full of food.
Thank you once again to Simon for a great class and MUMU Grill for the delicious lunch spread!
Grill Tapas Bar