大戸屋ごはん処 Ootoya Gohan-Dokoro @ Kyoto, Japan

For our very first dinner at Kyoto on day 4, we choose to have it at Ootoya Gohan-Dokoro 大戸屋ごはん処 or just Ootoya for short. It’s a famous chain dining restaurant focusing on teishoku (Japanese set meal). It has branches all over Japan and oversea. You might have seen Ootoya in your country as well.

In Kyoto, there are four Ootoya shops. We went to the one at Sanjo dori. Ordering was easy as they have English menu. For limited/seasonal dishes, they only have it in their Japanese menu. So make sure you check them out too. The atmosphere was really cozy (imagine family style restaurant) and food were served in timely manner.

Charcoal Grilled Atka Mackerel @ Ootoya, Kyoto
Let me show you what I ordered first. Charcoal grilled atka mackerel @ 780 yen. I ordered the dish minus rice, miso soup and pickles. In other words, à la carte. This dish wasn’t my first choice. I wanted charcoal grilled mackerel but it was sold out. The atka mackerel was really salty and has an odor that I’m not accustom to. Due to that I had to beg some rice from my mates to down it with.
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Burnt Ramen @ 京都 五行 Kyoto Gogyo, Japan

I left Osaka for Kyoto on day 4 of my Japan trip and the first meal I ate was this famous burnt ramen at Kyoto Gogyo which I’ve heard plenty of. Why is it called burnt ramen? Well, it’s not that they burn the ramen (noodle). In actuality it’s the broth (shoyu/miso) that’s scorched in 300°C lard which resulted in an almost black-colored broth. I’m not sure if it’s healthy to eat it everyday but hey it’s my first ever visit, so why not? 😉

We arrived in Gogyo at 11.50am after half an hour of walking from our hostel. The plan was to have lunch there and visit Nishiki Market right after. In case the place is full, then we’ll have lunch at the market… ya know need to have contingency plan. Haha Gogyo opens at 11.30am and thankfully there were no queue! Okay, I find it weird since this ramen place is well-known. Inside, we were shown to our table and there were still some empty spots. Too bad the counter seating area was closed and therefore I can’t peak into their kitchen.

Kyoto Gogyo @ Kyoto
The vibe here is pretty relaxing. If I’m not mistaken, this used to be a house owned by a geisha.
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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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