Though we were to visit several markets over the course of our trip, I was admittedly more excited to visit Osaka’s own. The city is known as a gastronomic hotspot, and its Kuromon Market is its kitchen. The great reviews were plenty, and so were the crowds heading to this now touristy destination.
I would have preferred to spend an entire day solely in Osaka, but not only were time constraints, there was also the upcoming G20 Summit that had put in place more stringent security measures. To avoid road closures and train delays, we opted to visit a day earlier and merge it with the half-day trip to Himeji. Unfortunately, that meant we were there later in the day — a not-so-desirable quality when it comes to fresh produce.
The market was relatively empty when we arrived — perhaps it was the time of the day, or maybe because the aisles were wider compared to Kyoto’s Nishiki Market. The assortment of seafood was incredible; shells, crabs, puffer fish, tuna, eel, scallops and sea urchin were some of those that graced the stores. Sushi and sashimi were plentiful. Yet, it was the prices that accompanied these goods that put us off: they were just too pricey for us. Although some delicacies such as the puffer fish and sushi were uniquely Japanese, some of the seafood were available back home. Among the various kinds, we only settled for one delicacy: fatty tuna.
I would have wanted some otoro, or the fattiest part of the tuna, but all the store had left was some chutoro. ¥2000 for three slices — it was some of the priciest fish I’d ever had in my life. To think that tuna was never my favorite sashimi, it was an expensive undertaking. It was good, but it was not as good as I thought it would be. Perhaps my lack of fatty tuna tastings contributed to this, but what I appreciated the most was that the tuna’s intense flavor (which I was not a fan of) somewhat dissipated. We followed it up with a few more servings of tuna and salmon sashimi, before giving up our table to explore the market some more.
The produce department had also its fair share of items. Beautifully-wrapped fruits were a sight of their own. Pale pink strawberries, though few, were truly one of a kind. Wasabi roots were also on display: my first time seeing them.
Kobe Beef was also available, yet frankly, its appearance left a lot to be desired. The marbling just wasn’t there. Takoyaki (fried octopus balls) and okonomomiyaki (vegetable pancakes), Osaka’s famous delicacies, were served by various stalls. Perhaps because of our less-than-timely visit, we left less thrilled than our exploration of Kyoto’s Nishiki Market.
Will I come back? Yes, to peruse more produce and different kinds of seafood, but I guess there will be less food tasting, as the items were simply too highly priced for me.
With our stomachs far from full, we opted to drop by Ajinoya, a famous okonomiyaki place one station away. More on this next time.
Happy (virtual) travels!