Tuesday 14 January 2020:
Today was the day I planned to take a quick trip from Kyoto to Osaka because the weather forecast promised clear skies and sunshine. I know many people will be curious as to why I chose to stay in Kyoto and then do a day trip to Osaka instead of the other way round, but I assure you, this arrangement works out perfectly. Personally, I feel that Kyoto has a lot more things worth exploring, and would require a few days worth of time to properly discover all the hidden treasures, and be fully immersed in the city’s ancient vibes. On the other hand, while Osaka is certainly bigger geographically, it lacks the rich history and cultural feel that Kyoto has to offer. Born in Singapore and having lived in a modern city all my life, Osaka felt not much different from being back at home. Since this trip was meant for me to explore something unique, live a different life (albeit a short period of time), Kyoto was the ideal place to settle down.
Additionally, the short travelling time between Kyoto and Osaka means that even if you would like to swing by Osaka one more time to do some last minute shopping, it is perfectly convenient and affordable as well. There are many options available to commute between the two cities, such as by bus, car, rail or even Shinkansen but the best one would be by rail. It is fast, reliable, cheap with plenty of timings to suit your schedule. For me, I took the JR Kyoto line to get to Osaka station, and the entire journey was approximately 30 minutes for 560 YEN. For more information about the various travel options between Kyoto and Osaka, here is the website that I used: https://www.kyotostation.com/traveling-from-kyoto-to-osaka/
To be honest, the main reason why I wanted to make a trip down to Osaka was because of the Kuromon Food Market ooops. The last time I was in Osaka with my family, I pretty much covered all the usual tourist attractions like the castles etc so I wasn’t interested in going back a second time. With that plan in mind, I had skipped breakfast so I could eat my fill at the market.
Initially, Kuromon market was meant to be my first stop but since I reached Osaka pretty early in the morning (before 10AM), I decided to hold out a bit longer by making a stop at Sumiyoshi Taisha first. The reason why I wanted to visit this place was because I wanted to see in person, the beautiful red bridge elegantly arching across the river stream. While planning my itinerary back in Singapore, I chanced upon a few Google images of this place and it looked interesting.
At first, I thought that Sumiyoshi Taisha would be swarming with tourists. To my surprise, when I reached the place, it was filled more with locals and I felt like the odd one out with my camera hanging on my neck – the ultimate tourist accessory. Nevertheless, I was a woman on a mission: to get a nice picture of the bridge which was what made me take notice of the place to begin with.
Satisfied with my pictures, I strolled around the temple grounds for a bit to pass time and watch the locals go about their routine prayers. Halfway through, I stumbled across this makeshift tent surrounded by a small crowd. Curious, I popped in to have a look and saw some temple staff handing out small cups without charge. I took one and realised that it was a cup full of steaming savoury miso soup, with bits of egg and spring onion floating about. There was just something so nice about standing around, drinking good hot soup on a cold winter day, surrounded my strangers all doing the exact same thing. The soup not only warmed my body, it warmed my heart as well.
After I finished the soup, it was time to head to Kuromon market to satisfy my rumbling stomach!
Having done my research beforehand, I already knew which stalls I was going to spend my money on. The very first stall was none other than this popular tuna shop located in the central area of the main walkway.
There was a queue forming by the time I found the store but thankfully the wait was not very long. My order was a tuna and sashimi don, voted the third most popular choice by visitors. Within minutes, I had my beautiful black bowl of rice with sashimi and the next best thing happened. Usually after you get your order, a shop lady will lead you to one of the standing tables for you to eat. However when it was my turn, she instead led me into the shop’s private dining area instead so that I could have a seat and a table. From what I could understand, she saw that I was alone so she decided to offer me a more comfortable environment to dine in by not having to squeeze with the rest. I was really touched by her actions :’) Turns out travelling solo does have its own perks indeed!
Now the moment you have been waiting for – my review of the sashimi! I haven’t had many slices of fatty tuna in my life, BUT I must say this bowl was pure bliss in my mouth. Thick, generous slices of plump pink tuna coupled with a few vibrant orange salmon pieces adorned the top of the bowl, with a scoop of glowing luminescent roe to complete the look. The fatty tuna pieces were truly melt-in-your-mouth quality, the rich smooth texture against my tongue was just orgasmic. Each piece was actually pretty heavy, as you can tell by my uneven chopstick pace as I attempted to flip one over.
The balance between rice and sashimi was perfect. Not too much sashimi until it becomes overbearing, but not too little to be overshadowed by the rice. The ratio of both was just nice, hitting that sweet spot of contentment.
First dish accomplished, on to the next – seared beef!
Thick, chewy, juicy slabs of beef seared over a grill and brushed with a hearty dose of teriyaki sauce. Each bite released a gush of umami that flooded the receptors in my tongue – to this date I can remember the harmonious blend of fat, sweetness and saltiness. Getting extremely hungry while typing this as I mentally recall how this tasted.
Two drinks that I purchased to satisfy my thirst was: 1. freshly squeezed strawberry juice and 2. Homemade warm soy milk.
Let me just put it out here, please go and try Japan’s strawberry juice at least once if you can. The juice was so refreshing and sweet, but not the artificial I-put-sugar-in-it kind of sweet. There was also a slight tartness to the drink, but none of the acidic sourness that I usually encounter when eating strawberries from other countries. Japan’s strawberries are truly magical, how can every strawberry item I’ve tasted be so GOOD? The juice I got was the regular strawberry one as it was cheaper than the white strawberry juice. If I ever go back to Kuromon market, I will definitely be giving the white strawberry juice a try!
Homemade soy milk was on my to-buy-list ever since I watched a Youtuber gush over it. Alas, I am not sure if I managed to buy the exact same one from the stall she visited. I was looking out for the signature banner but did not see it. Instead I found this shop selling lots of soy bean products, and they happened to be selling homemade soy milk too so I went ahead and got myself a bottle of warm soy milk. I LOVE the container that they used because it is so cute! I slipped it into one of my coat pocket and it acted as a very handy hand-warmer/hot water bottle.
Ok I’ve just rewatched the video that inspired me to buy this soy milk and YIPPEE turns out it was the right stall after all because of the signature soy milk packaging – the tiny rectangle bottle with the bright truck-red cap 🙂
By then, I was getting really full from all the rice, fatty fish, beef, and liquid so sadly I couldn’t eat anything else. There was a stall all the way at the end of the main street of Kuromon market, and it was selling loads of melon products from juice to ice cream served in half a melon. Apparently it won several awards so if you’re ever in Kuromon, do check that store out and give it a try on my behalf!
I realised this day post is going to end up being rather lengthy thanks to all my food gushing, so I shall stop here and separate the rest of my Osaka trip in the next post. See you there!