Friday, January 14, 2011

Eating vegetarian in Osaka

We hardly eat out at all in our town. It's expensive, there's not much for vegetarians and what there is, we've already tried. (By the way, if you're wondering if you can use sushi rice to make risotto, the answer is yes! We made squash risotto with amaretto last night and couldn't even tell it wasn't arborio.)

Back to Osaka. We ate Thai food, Indian food, izakaya (Japanese pub) food, street food and food from the combini (convenience store sushi!)

The main thing we wanted to try was kaiten sushi. Erin used to work at a Japanese owned kaiten sushi place in Seattle so she was a big help in deciphering what everything was. John eats fish and seafood so there were no problems there but Josie hasn't been able to convert - still lacto-ovo vegetarian. Kaiten sushi is ideal if you don't speak much Japanese because you can just grab your food as it goes around on the conveyor belt. You know how much each thing costs by what color plate it's on. You can always order stuff right from the chefs which we did once or twice because the vegetarian stuff wasn't coming around much.

So John and Erin ate things like this:

Josie ate things like these. This one is natto. It's fermented soybeans which always confused me because that's what tempeh is. But tempeh is firm and nutty while natto is slimy and stinky. I've been told by numerous Japanese people that natto smells like feet. They eat it on rice for breakfast here. It's very nutritious so I wanted to like it. It was palatable, but let's just say I didn't have seconds.

These thin rolled egg ones were sweet and delicious though. We want to try to make them at home now since we have a Japanese square egg fry pan.

We cleaned up at this place. 3 miso soups and tons of sushi and it was still one of the cheapest meals we had in Osaka. Most of the rolls are 100 yen, some are 2-300 but basically nothing is over $3 or so.

The thing one MUST eat in Osaka is okonomiyaki. It's been described as a Japanese pancake or a Japanese omelette but it has way too much cabbage to really be either. We must have eaten ours too quickly to get a picture so here are some of our friends'.

There are tons of variations on this theme with names other than okonomiyaki and we can't keep them all straight yet. They pour the batter on the grill in the table and you sort of cook it yourself (or at least it stays really warm). We had eaten it before a few times and have always liked it. It usually has meat or seafood so we have to beg them to make it without. We also indulged in one of our other favorites - yakisoba.

Yakisoba and okonomiyaki always taste better out at restaurants than when we make them at home. Must be the extra msg or something...

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