Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dalloyau (Osaka, JAPAN) ★★★☆☆

The roots of Paris-based Dalloyau goes back to 1682 when Charles Dalloyau first impressed Louis XIV with his creations. From that year on, the Dalloyau brothers started serving the royal court of Versaille Palace. Over the years, Dalloyau has slowly evolved into a prestigious French culinary brand associated with the royal heritage. Dalloyau boutiques can now be found in different corners of the world including right here in Osaka. 

Dalloyau is often credited with inventing (or re-inventing) the famous Opera cake. But other than the popular Opera, Paris-brest etc, the Osaka branch also offers a few Japanese influenced cakes which are not available in Paris.

This looks like a millefeuille but with thin slices of chocolate cake on top and bottom. It was very disappointing. Would rather have the regular millefeuille instead.

Marron Glacè - I haven't seen this one in Paris before. It tasted like a marriage between meringue and marshmallow with marron in the middle. Not bad.

Food Rating: 4.5/10
Price: ¥¥¥¥
Address: 2-2-23 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi 542-0085, Osaka, Japan 大阪府大阪市中央区心斎橋筋 2-2-23
Closest Metro Station: Shinsaibashi / Namba
Tel: +81 (0)6 6211-1155


Monsieur Makino (Osaka, JAPAN) ★★☆☆☆

La Pâtisserie des Rêves by Philippe Conticini was not initially on our radar screen but we were attracted by their crafty pastries put under the bell-jar displays.  So we decided to follow the crowd here like we were touring inside an art gallery.

The name La Pâtisserie des Rêves literally means "Pastry Shop of Dreams" in French. Although they are fairly new to Japan (Osaka and Kyoto), they are already taking the Japanese culinary world by storm.

Unfortunately the counter at La Pâtisserie des Rêves was flooded with potential customers that made it virtually impossible to even attempt to line up. As a result, we turned our attention to Monsieur Makino which was situated right next door.

Monsieur Makino (青の記憶), one of the top patisseries in Osaka, was also jam packed but at least we could find someone who was willing to serve us.

Out of the many enticing selections, we picked the green tea mochi (left) with green tea mousse and red bean filling. Unfortunately I thought it was just average. 

Their hazelnut tart (right) was also not as fulfilling as we would expect.

Food Rating: 4/10
Price: ¥¥¥
Address: Hankyu Umeda Main Store, Osaka, Japan
Closest Metro Station: Umeda Station

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Shotani Cake Shop (Kobe, JAPAN) ★★★☆☆

One thing we have come to enjoy very much in Japan is to tour around their department stores. I particularly like to visit their food halls or depachika which most often could be found in the basement level.

Japanese are very creative when it comes to pastries and cakes and that creativity is often put on display at their food halls. Here at the food halls, you will find all kinds of delicate desserts ranging from traditional Japanese, modern French patiersserie to fusion cross-overs.

We were in Kobe today spending a significant amount of time "window shopping" at the food halls cherry picking for some delicatessen. One of the most eye-catching counters belonged to the Shotani Cake Shop, located in the food hall of the Daimaru Department Store, Kobe.

There were tons of selections to choose from but this beetle-shaped white chocolate mousse cake with yuzu was simply too tempting to turn down. Too bad it didn't exactly taste great.

If looks could kill, then I would be dead 10 times just looking at these gorgoreous peaches. But we didn't pick this because we didn't want another mousse cake.


Instead we picked one of these mochi filled with chestnut puree! Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice and matching it with autumn chestnut, it couldn't get better than that.


Food Rating: 5/10
Price: ¥¥¥
Address: Daimaru Kobe B2, 40 Akashi-machi, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Japan
Closest Metro Station: Kyukyoryuchi Daimarumae

Mouriya (Kobe, JAPAN) ★★★☆☆

We were on a mission to find ourselves some really delicious Kobe beef on this trip. Since my friend has been raving about this place called Mouriya near the Sannomiya station, I decided to head over there once I touched down in Kobe. 

Kobe beef has always been touted for its rich flavor, tenderness and well-marbled texture. I know we are in for a treat for sure.

There are three branches of Mouriya in Kobe and they are all situated near the Sannomiya station. The menus are more or less the same with very minor difference.

To no real surprise, the dining room is in the traditional teppanyaki style with a long counter that allows the chefs to work in front of their customers.

Different sets are available here. There's one that started with a small salad while the other kicked things off with a small bowl of soup.

First up was our Kobe beef rump steak. I thought our chef was busy enough with the onion, asparagus and mushrooms already but he managed to squeeze in some time to take a photo for us. Outstanding~

Now it's time for the rump steak to shine. Our chef was seen here showing off his cooking techniques.

The Kobe beef rump steak was every bite as good as advertised. Very tender and flavorsome. This particular cut (rump steak) was slightly chewy and that's why it's a little cheaper.

Now our "main course", the Kobe sirloin has arrived. This was so mouthwatering. In fact mouthwatering enough for me to totally forget about taking a picture after it's been cooked!

We spent a nice day in Kobe visiting some of the top tourist attractions. Time to head back to Osaka now.

Food Rating: 5/10
Price: ¥¥
Address: 1 Chome-9-9 Kitanagasadōri, Chūō-ku, Kōbe, Hyōgo-ken, Japan 兵庫県神戸市中央区北長狭通1丁目9-9
Closest Metro Station: Sannomiya
Tel: +81 78-321-1990


Takoyaki Kukuru (Osaka, JAPAN) ★★★☆☆

We were hanging out at Dotonbori (道頓堀) before our day trip to Kobe and attempting to fight off the temptation of all these street foods.

OK, finally I gave up.....

Since Takoyaki Kukuru has just opened for business, I decided to dip into action here for some delicious octopus balls. This ball-shaped snack, made with a wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a special takoyaki pan, is argualy one of the most popular Japanese snacks.

At Takoyaki Kukuru, they are serving different varieties of takoyaki. 

There's the "regular" deep fried one with mayonnaise and Takoyaki sauce.

The dipping takoyaki is also one of the most sought-after choice around here. This comes with a simple broth.

Between the two, I definitely prefer the regular one because of that crispy shell.

Food Rating: 4.5/10
Price: ¥¥
Address: 1 Chome-7-1 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0085, Japan
Closest Metro Station: Yotsubashi
Tel: +81 (0)6 6245-5799

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fujiya 1935 (Osaka, JAPAN) ★★★★☆

Last year, we had one of the best dining experience ever at Hajime, one of the highly regarded 3-starred Michelin restaurants in Osaka. This year, we were out to try repeating the same success with another 3-star selection, Fujiya 1935, here in the same city.

Like Hajime, Fujiya 1935 is tucked away in a quiet neighborhood in Osaka. The history of the restaurant goes way back, as the name would suggest - year 1935. It's a bit difficult to imagine this but the restaurant was originally an udon noodle cafe back then but somewhere along the line, they changed to serving western food. What a wise decision it was!

Current owner-chef Tetsuya Fujiwara is the fourth generation of the family to run this storied restaurant. Having trained overseas in Spain and Italy, there are certainly a lot of modern European influence in his cuisine but the Japanese roots are not forgotten.

After a cup of warm yuzu tea at the waiting area, we were finally being escorted to the restaurant on the second floor. On our way up to the dining area, we passed by the open kitchen where Chef Tetsuya Fujiwara was seen working diligently.


The dining area, a simple 5-6 table setup, is predominantly decorated with wood. Don't be fooled by the picture which was taken after our meal. The place was packed.

The best part about dinner here - there is only one dinner set served so our brain cells got a well deserved night off.

The first amuse bouche, as indicated in the menu was a "natural hen of the woods battered wild mushroom". Unfortunately, the aroma of wood was not as apparent as we all hoped.

Amuse bouche continued with their signature truffle sponge bread. These were olive-flavored sponge bread with truffle cream in the middle. The texture was very fluffy and airy inducing pleasure in every single bite.

The pistaccio marshmallows were very soft and melted in our mouths even before we started chewing.

The final nibble of the night, a "Yellow paper" that tasted like a thin slice of cheese.

Finally our bread of marron arrived in a nice wooden box with pre-heated hot stones underneath to keep the bread warm. That was really clever. 

After a deep collection of amuse bouche which we found very entertaining but less successful in actual flavors, we were finally offered our very first starter - fresh oyster grilled with straw.

When the basket of oysters arrived, the straws were still burning giving the fresh oysters grilling effects.

I personally liked this dish a lot - freshly grilled oysters with the aroma of wood (7/10).

This was probably my first time having foie gras along with sweet potato and it was an interesting experience.

The smoked foie gras which was still more than half raw, was served with sweet potato and ginger. I liked the delicate sweetness from the sweet potato but found the texture of the foie gras a bit too soft for my liking (5/10).

Next up was another innovative dish of caviar and pumpkin arriving on a pool of butternut squash. Very sweet (6/10).

Our main courses were due to arrive first with a seaperch with chrysanthemum and herb essence. There was a smell of "fall" in the air (6/10).

The swimming crab with black beans pasta fedelini was next. The fedelini was done to near perfection but the crab meat failed to provide the sweet taste to infuse this ocean themed dish (5/10).

The last main course was a slab of roasted duck with mushroom that was neatly done (6/10).

Blue apple meringue was our first refreshment following dinner and it was indeed refreshing and cleansing for our taste buds (6/10).

More impressive was the poached French pear (Komisu) served with a vanilla gelato (7/10).

More marron to come since it's autumn. This was a marron pudding with rum flavored coffee jelly served in a glass (like a drink). It was accompanied by a small sidedish of chestnuts in a bush of burning wood. That was surprisingly good (8/10).

I thought dinner was served at a consistently good standard displaying sound technical skills all around but unfortunately there was not a single (or a few) dish that really stood out with that wow feeling.

I hope I wasn't being too harsh here but apart of the innovative aspect, something seemed to be missing from this meal.

Food Rating: 7.5/10
Price: ¥¥¥¥
Address: 2-4-14, Yariyamachi Chuo-ku, Osaka 540-0027 Japan
Closest Metro Station: Sakaisujihonmachi / Tanimachi 4-chome
Tel: +81 6-6941-2483

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Shi-ten-noh 四天王 (Osaka, JAPAN) ★★☆☆☆

This ramen chain offers 3 different broths to go with their ramen, soy, salt, and miso. Their
Dontonbori branch is located right in the heart of the shopping area but most importantly just a stone's throw from our hotel.

Immediately after our train ride from Tokyo, we decided to drop by and have a quick lunch.

I had the broth with soy sauce and it wasn't very good. Way too salty. I had to drink a lot of iced water to get that out of my system.

The illuminated signboards around the Ebisu Bridge are one of the most picturesque sights in Osaka. I will definitely come back for a night shot after dark.

Food Rating: 3.5/10
Price: ¥¥
Address: 1 Chome-7-25 Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0071, Japan 大阪市中央区道頓堀1-7-25 タカコ第五ビル
Closest Metro Station: Namba
Tel: +81 (0)6 6212-6350

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ladurée Shinjuku (Tokyo, JAPAN) ★★★★☆

Ladurée, the luxury cake and pastry maker and inventor of the double-decker macarons from France is finally coming to Hong Kong! But before the grand opening date is announced, we love to first get a quick sneak preview at their outpost in Shinjuku, Japan.

Out of all the Ladurée branches in Japan, their Ginza branch has been getting all the publicity due to the much larger space and their gorgeous tearoom. I was there briefly at around 2 pm but the place was already packed with ladies who were probably getting a break from their usually busy day of shopping. 

Instead of waiting in the queue, I decided to hit Shinjuku.

Apart from macarons, they also have some gorgeous looking pastries available. This "Strawberry" was absolutely surreal (and pretty expensive too at ¥830).

Les Religieuses is another classic here. I picked the pistachio flavor and it was very soothing.

Food Rating: 7/10
Price: ¥¥¥¥¥
Address: Shinjuku Lumine 2, 1F 3-38-2 Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
Closest Metro Station: Shinjuku
Tel: +81 3-6380-5981