Yummy Kakinoha Sushi @ Hiraso 平宗, Nara

I went to Nara on day 3 of my Japan trip last year and one of the things I look forward to besides meeting the deers, was eating kakinoha sushi 柿の葉ずし aka persimmon leaves sushi. Kakinoha sushi is a local specialty in Nara and it really means what it says, that is sushi wrapped with persimmon leaf. Pickled mackerel and salmon are the common fishes used. Other varieties are sea bream, eel, prawn, etc.

Because Nara is located inland, it doesn’t have access to sea products easily. There was no such thing as refrigeration in the olden times. The fishes and other seafood were pickled with salt and brought into Nara. The usage of persimmon leaves is due to its healing properties and also because Nara has abundance of persimmon trees. This suaku tourist (me!) was ohh-ing and wah-ing along the road whenever a persimmon tree is spotted. LOL

Hiraso Kakinoha Sushi @ Nara
Just outside of Kintetsu Nara Station where we alighted, there is a kiosk selling kakinoha sushi called Hiraso 平宗. You can also visit its Nara branch store, a further 8-10 minutes walk from the kiosk.
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Steamed Dory Fish Fillet With Chia Seeds Butternut Squash Soup

Here I am, the butternut squash addict with another butternut squash soup recipe. I was going to roast the butternut but thought “Hey why not steam it instead?”. Then I decided to include steam fish to make my meal fuller. Then there were this thought of “Hey, I should make use of my long forgotten saffron!” and lastly “Let’s add some chia seeds to make this soup more nutritious since I’ve not seen any recipes adding chia seeds to soup but mostly to smoothies, drinks and pudding!”. That’s the story of how this recipe were conceived. Haha

Steamed Dory Fish Fillet With Chia Seeds Butternut Squash Soup
Steamed dory fish fillet with chia seeds butternut squash soup.
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元祖串かつ だるま 道頓堀店 Ganso Kushikatsu Daruma @ Osaka, Japan

We went to Dotonbori on the evening of day 2 in Osaka. Despite its hype, I must agree that it’s a must-visit for first-timer like myself. It’s the symbol of Osaka in my book. I tried to deny that but when I finally stood in front of the Glico Man signboard, that feeling of ‘Yup, I’m really in Osaka man!’ really hits me.

The first thing we ate at Dotonbori is Ganso Kushikatsu Daruma 元祖串かつ だるま 道頓堀店. It’s a restaurant that specializes in kushikatsu 串カツ (also known as kushiage) which is deep-fried skewered meat and vegetables and are dip in sauce. Kushikatsu is said to be originated from Osaka, so yup try this dish if you’re here. This particular restaurant is quite famous and has branches in many places. This is a branch as well.

Ganso Kushikatsu Daruma @ Dotonbori, Osaka
This is the ground floor with counter and table seating. We sat on the first floor. The frying station is also located above. Yup, there are many customers but we didn’t have problem finding seat. Thing is the place is really loud. Not really a pleasant dining experience since I was quite tired.
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きじ Kiji @ Osaka, Japan

When I was searching where to eat okonomiyaki in Osaka (pre-trip planning), Kiji’s name kept popping up. So I made that as my no 1 must-visit restaurant in Osaka. Kiji きじ has two restaurants in Osaka, one in Shinumeda Shokudogai (near Umeda and Osaka Station) which is the main shop/honten and the other one at Umeda Sky Building (about 2km away). Both are located at the same ward, Kita. Many people were confused between the two and so was I, originally.

At first, I wanted to visit the one at Umeda Sky Building because it seems to be a popular choice among tourist (just look at the number of English reviews at Tripadvisor). But because I’m short of time (tsk return trip from Umeda Sky Building to Osaka Station means having to waste about an hour of walking), I decided Shinumeda Shokudogai is the better choice. Besides, it seems more locals visit the main shop. FYI, Shinumeda Shokudogai 新梅田食道街 is an area populated with many restaurants and is located between Osaka Station & Umeda Station.

Pork & Squid Okonomiyaki @ Kiji, Shinumeda Shokudogai
My, what a sight! On the left is pork okonomiyaki and right is squid okonomiyaki.
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こころにあまい あんぱんや Kokoroniamai Anpanya @ Osaka, Japan

While heading to our okonomiyaki lunch on day 2 in Osaka, we saw this particular bread shop with rows of shining anpan on display. Yup, it were calling us… begging for attention to be eaten! So after having our delicious meal, we stopped by Kokoroniamai Anpanya こころにあまい あんぱんや to sample our first ever and only anpan in Japan.

What’s an anpan? It’s a sweet bun filled with yummy filling. The filling can vary from the most common ones such as red bean, green bean, chestnut, green tea, sweet potato, custard to more creative ones such as cream cheese, curry, etc.

Kokoroniamai Anpanya @ Shinumeda Shokudogai, Osaka
So many choices.
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