Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Japan: Food Culture and Osaka

Food, everyone loves food. The love of it is deep ingrained that it can be a large of a culture. The love of it is so great that it is often used as a tool to tempt visitors to a country for extra revenue.
The fact is, with every travel guide and travel shows, just have to introduce some food in some land with the host exclaiming that either he has tasted nothing this good ever before or that everyone must come and try like he does. Food on television is much akin to pornography on video; the watcher is dying to participate what is on screen but is hopelessly unable to.

This is of course without a doubt that the promotion of the Uniquely Singapore slogan cannot disconnect itself with the claim that Singapore is a food paradise. As with most places, Vietnam, Morocco, or the Carribean, everywhere on television is a food paradise. The thing is most people like to imagine the best food is the food they grow up with, the comfort food that accompany them through the years. So Singapore's uniqueness is just like everywhere else in the world, which makes it not very unique.

Osaka, as with many parts of Japan, boost its own special cuisine unique only in that region. But Osaka takes it up another level and has incalculate food deep into their culture. It goes, if 3 ladies from Kyoto, Tokyo and Osaka respectively were given a thousand dollars each and they have to spend on a thing, the lady from Kyoto would spend all on shoes, the lady from Tokyo would spend it on bags, and of course the lady from Osaka would spend it on food. Not only the love of food is so deep, it can even be deadly with the culture of kuidaore, which mean eat till one drops.

Combining bread and noodles, costing 150円,from a convenient store.

In Osaka, they even combine theme parks with food.

Indoor air-conditioned malls, emulating the old side streets selling food.

Takoyaki shop.

Takoyaki, the original version has to be from Osaka.

It has seeped ingrained in the local culture, that comicwriters write about not just food, but in specific, Takoyaki.

Even the humble gyoza find its special place in this food obsessive city, that they have to set up a place that specially caters to gyoza, and gyoza only, and nothing else.

The escalator up to gyoza land.

Without the packaged sauce in the picture, this gyoza has to be the best. In fact, sampling three different gyozas from different stores, they all prove to that it is possible to achieve temporary heaven entrance with the bite into it. Actually, no place in Singapore have been found to come close to the standard of this. And this is not a television show or a paid travelling guidebook, this is the truth.

Dohtombori, a shopping district, with a great number of restaurants.

The sign of yet another food themepark.

Grilled and barbeque chicken over a counter,

With a oolong shochu to accompany, and with an entertaining lady trying to bridge the language barrier while serving food.

Okonomiyaki, with the odd mix of noodles, flour, lettuces, parsley, fish flakes, bean sprouts with a sweet and sour sauce, has to be odd since the taste can really be so unforgettable.

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