Homemade strawberry salad with spinach, arugula, cucumbers, egg, crushed pistachios, and fresh cracked black pepper.
I eat. I cook. I travel. And I blog about it.
We woke up around 4AM Japan time…way too early for anything to be open. But none of us could sleep anymore and decided to start our day around 5AM. We found a 7-11 convient store around the corner; the only place open at that hour. Who knew that the best omusubi (riceball) I would eat in Japan would be from a 7-11. The seaweed was seasoned and crispy, the rice was soft. It was so good.
Rice ball and warm coffee in hand, we went to tackle the Japanese subway and rail system finding our way to Kyoto. We had to stop and ask some of the rail attendants for directions, communicating by pointing to the map and simple sign language. At one point the guy came chasing after us with English maps of Kyoto. It was so nice of him. It’s these little gestures and and ability to overcome language barriers with using various methods to communicate that makes me love traveling so so much. It’s thrilling and so rewarding.
Our first stop was to visit the Fushimi Inari Taisha, a shinto shrine for the god of rice.
This site is famous for the thousands of torii gates that line different hiking trails throughout the mountain. It was truly beautiful and exhausting hike to the top!
We left Fushimi in search of our next destination; lunch at Honke Owariya 尾張屋, a 548 year old soba restaurant located just south of the Nijo Castle in Kyoto. It’s a humble little restaurant located on a quite street. (It took us a long time to find). With its unpretentious set-up and surroundings, you would never know that this place had served meals for some of the most important people in Japan like emperors, shoguns, monks, and even today the Imperial family.
We each ordered our own Hourai Soba (￥2100 or US$23), the house specialty which consisted of 5 layers of soba noodle and came with different toppings: tempura shrimp, seaweed, shredded egg, mushrooms, toasted sesame, fresh ground wasabi, grate daikon, and green onions. You can mix as much topping into your soba as you liked. It was so good!
We walked off lunch and toured the nearby Nijo Castle (￥600 entrance). Later we went to the Gion district to wander around. Gion is famous for geishas and its many tea houses. It’s truly a beautiful place to visit.
Next stop will be dinner back in Osaka at the famous little sushi shop where Anthony Bourdain ate. Next post…
Fushimi Inari Shrine directions:
Take the train on the Keihan Main Line to Fushimi Inari station (伏見稲荷駅). The shrine can be reached from a short walk from the station. Just follow the crowd.
Honke Owariya 尾張屋
322 Kurumaya-cho, Nijo Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
Take train to Nijojo-Mae Station (営地下鉄 東西線 二条城前駅). It was rather hard to find as there isn’t any street signs anywhere. We asked various shop owners for directions using sign language and little Japanese that we knew. Eventually, we finally found it and it was such a rewarding experience.
Gion, Kyoto directions:
Gion can be reached by bus from Kyoto Station in about 20 minutes for 220 yen. Take number 100 and 206 and get off at Gion bus stop. The closest train stations are Gion Shijo Station (祇園四条駅) on the Keihan Line and Kawaramachi Station (河原町駅) on the Hankyu Line.
Thank you Lydia for sharing some of your photos!
When traveling and looking for restaurant and suggestions for dinner, Anthony Bourdain always comes up as a source for reference. And so, this is how we decided on dinner at Koyoshi Sushi (小好鮨) in Umeda District, Osaka.
Doing some research before the trip, we found that this sushi restaurant seats around 8 people max and the owners Mr. & Mrs. Yano spoke no English. I knew ordering food would be tricky and so I downloaded a sushi guide onto my phone before the trip. It came out to be very helpful. At least we knew what we were eating and was able to tell Mr. Yano that “no we don’t want fugu” (a fish filled with poisonous stuff).
It took us a while to find this tiny place since it was already dark and raining by the time we got back to Osaka. Directions on their Facebook page suggested:
Between JR Umeda and Hankyu Umeda central train stations. Located in a small busy alley behind the Hotel New Hankyu. We are on a triangular corner near a convenience store, Daily Yamazaki. Koyoshi is just a little hard to find, but truly worth the effort.
Slide the doors open and bam, the seats and sushi counter was right there! It is small. I don’t know how else to explain it. We were warmly greeted by Mr. Yano and his wife. With my two years of high school Japanese, I was able to order us hot green tea and water. Then we just told him “Omakase” in Japanese which means “I’ll leave it to you”. Mr. Yano brought us fish after fish after fish. Each piece was huge! I’m not sure if sushi is usually served this size, because it certainly is not served this way anywhere I knew in New York.
I can’t remember the name of all the fish we ate. We were given a small dish of pickled ginger and nothing else. Each fish is already seasoned with a brush of soy sauce and dab of fresh wasabi. You really don’t need anything else with fresh fish.
Abalone in the showcase!
Sea bream sushi and some other fish…
Sake or Salmon sushi. Huge piece!
This was the Otoro or Fatty Tuna! It was so fatty, it left a thin layer of oil on my lips. It was divine!
Next came creamy Uni or sea urchin.
Ebi or cooked shrimp
This white piece was some kind of clam.
This was Anago. We didn’t know what it was so I looked it up on my sushi guide app. It was conger eel and it was so good!
Our last piece of fish. Can’t remember what it was. =)
After our meal we asked Mr. Yano for a photograph or “Shashin”
Our meal cost us around 4,000 Yen each, which is roughly US$43.00 per person.
Koyoshi Sushi Osaka (小好鮨)