Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Day 7: Osaka pt 4

Night cap? If I must

Start if off right with the Yoichi 20yr. Here are some comments from the internet:

Nose: big notes of cedar wood up front. Cigar boxes. Tobacco leaves. Old leather. Nice to see there’s also an estery note (nail polish) but this fades away quickly. Dark forest fruits remain. After that, some earthy smoke, burnt cake and a little tar. Hints of dried mushrooms and soft spices. Incense as well. Light matchstick notes from the sherry. Excellent complexity and typically Japanese.

Mouth: punchy (bordering on pungent). Again quite savoury and leathery. Walnuts and roasted pecans. Deep, earthy peat smoke. Pepper, liquorice, anise, a pinch of salt. In the background a strong bitter-sweet harmony of burnt fruit cake and dark chocolate. Slightly sourish tobacco leaves.

Finish: very long, smoky and chocolaty with traces of dry oak.

Here are my notes:

Tasty. Pricey.

I tried the Miyagikyo and that was fantastic as well. I wish I had written down my thoughts about it. Oh well, next time.

In case it's not obvious, I am at the Ritz-Carlton bar in Osaka. It's a spectacular bar. Not because of it's location or selection, but because of the people that work there. Everything is done perfectly. And ok, they have an outstanding collection of exclusive and rare alcohol.

White Bowmore, is one of the three unicorn scotches that I would like to someday try. Black, and Gold being the other two. They sell this here for just slightly over $500 a dram, or the bottle can be yours for north of $16,000. Needless to say, I didn't try it. The bartender did, and he said it was amazing.

I asked him what was his other favourite whisky that regular people could afford and he produced this. I've never been a fan of the Hakashu 12 when the Yamazaki 12 and Hibiki 12 are so much better, but I gave it a shot anyways. I wasn't disappointed. Sharp fruit and alcohol on the nose, with a little bit of smoke. The taste starts off silky and then you really taste the oak. What keeps bringing me back to this is the taste of the wood. It's so unique that similar to a really peaty Islay, I can't get enough of it.

This is how they do a serious mojito

Another exclusive bottling for the Ritz. It was a pretty typical Clynelish: smooth, light, some dry fruit and then leathery and oak. Still delicious.

Farewell....I'll be back

(I did go back)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Day 7: Osaka pt. 3

There's only one good reason to walk around all day, and that is to work up an appetite to eat. Osaka is also known for it's kushiage, which is basically things they deep fry in batter and serve. This is pretty far away from how they do it in America though (think state fairs). At it's best, there is a lightness and subtlety to each dish that makes each bite a memorable experience. Tomo did some research and chose the restaurant, so it was great. I present to you Cuisine d'Osaka Ryo

On the way there

Appetizers. I forgot what everything was, but it was delicious.


Some notable mentions was the rice puffs, the soup, the eggs on eggs, and I think there was foie somewhere in the mix too

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Day 7: Osaka pt. 2

Osaka is known to be the more loud and expressive of the cities in Japan. Many attribute this to the many comedic shows that run, and of course the comedians that perform in them. I didn't attend one as the language barrier would probably not make it the most hilarious experience. Nevertheless, I did experience that warmer openness as I walked through the city.

This guy is supposed to be funny rather than scary

Looking down the river in the Dotonbori area

There are a lot of people here in the Shinsaibashi shopping arcade

"Feel my muscles"
"Tee hee hee"

I liked how the line through the middle made it look like a magazine spread

Lonely bike

"I miss my other bike"


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Day 7: Osaka pt. 1

Today it is all about eating what Osaka is famous for.

The train to get there

Almost there


Forgot what this was called, but it was egg based rather than batter based

Place was packed outside

And inside

Because of this: okonomiyaki

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Day 6: Osaka

It's good-bye sweet Tokyo, hello new Osaka. There's definitely a different vibe to Osaka, more laid back, stand on the right, walk on the left. Less suits, more running shoes.


Also, cooler retro trains

We arrive at Mille Caresses, an Italian wine bar near Osaka station. First time in Osaka and Tomo's birthday. You know what this calls for.


This is the champagne on the far left. Hard to see, but the bubbles were extremely fine, and the flavor was closer to a well aged chardonnay than a champagne.

The unique thing about this extablishment is that a lot of the wines they have available by the glass are quite old. They keep the wine in baskets to keep the sediment that has formed over the years rested at the bottom.

Muscat grape with gold foil, and a type of Japanese kiwi. Both obviously in season and delicious

Unripened pickled peaches. Surprisingly delicious

The anticipation is killing me

Charcuterie platter with jamon iberico, cured horse meat and I forgot the other one

More wine to pair with the next dish

Seared abalone with liver sauce. Top 10 best things I have put in my mouth. So delicious

Something more robust for our next course

They informed Tomo that they just got fresh offal from a wild boar. If I'm not mistaken, it's liver, heart and kidney. The heart was especially delicious, but I felt the liver was a little overcooked. The only misstep of the evening.

This was the surprising pick of the night. On the nose there was a lot of alcohol, and not much else at first...

But paired with this sandwich of the most tender succulent Wagyu, it was sublime

So delicious

What happened next is what I like to call the "Tomo effect". Better seating, better service, more choices. These are a given in her company. What also generally happens, over quick exchanges of smiles and delighted chatter is an experience that you'll never get dining with the regular folks of this world. Still hungry? Not on the menu? Last selection of prized ingredients? Yes.

Yes, that is a black truffle. And yes, our sommelier was the best

It was a carbonara to end all carbonaras. There was a moment in his prolonged generous shaving of truffle onto our pastas where he stopped. He then looked up, reconsidered, and promptly began raining truffle once more all over the plate. Sexy, indulgent, the Tomo effect.

I don't even remember what this cost. But it was worth it