Thursday, August 4, 2016

Dotonbori's Glico Man and Ichiran Ramen

My original preference was to stay at Dotonbori Hotel so that Dotonbori, Osaka's kitchen will just a stone throw away. Little did I know that Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade was just right next to Dotonbori and luckily just a steps away from Hotel Mystays Shinsaibashi.

Takoyaki, arguably ze best well known Osaka fast food. It's a wheat flour-based batter cooked in a special molded pan typically filled with minced or diced octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger and green onion. Sauce is similar to worcestershire with mayonnaise added then sprinkled with green laver and dried bonito shavings.

Distinctly known as a Foodie Destination, Dotonbori at night is lit by hundreds of neon lights and mechanized signs including the famous Glico Running Man sign and Kani Doraku crab sign.

This is Ichiran. Dotonbori's best Tonkotsu ramen (also referred to as Hakata-style ramen) It was a rainy night and we battled the long queue to partake in this consistently good, local staple. Open 24/7.

Marshalls attending the line was handing out these flyers for our ramen preference. Good thing there was an english form.

Next was payment at the Vendo machine. 790 JPY for a steaming hot bowl. You can do add-ons (rice, seaweed flakes, egg..etc) to your liking.

Eating here is an experience in itself! A ramen joint! Single serve counters. How cool can that be? Had to wait for 3 simultaneous vacant counters, typical pinoy norm to be eating together.

Hands down... the best ramen! Clean-tasting, rich soup with the softest pork ever. The green onions and garlic over-all complemented the dish. A feast for my palate.

With cool, clean pure water on each counter (free-of-charge)

This street runs parallel to the Dotonbori Canal

Another 24/7 establishment is Don Quijote (Don-ki) for tax-free pasalubong shopping. Think Kitkat matcha, green tea latte, Nissin seafood cup noodles...etc. 

Other notable pasalubong items from Kansai Airport, Tokyo Banana and Royce Chocolates

My shopping haul. All consumed as of this writing and dreaming of more!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Hotel MyStays Shinsaibashi

Took a cab from USJ to Hotel Mystays Shinsaibashi due to time constraints, heavy luggage and with an elderly in tow. We couldn't allow an entire afternoon to be wasted on riding the subway to Osaka then google-mapping our way towards the bustling Shinsaibashi neighborhood asking for directions. 

As per TaxiFareFinder, fare estimate is pegged at 4,306 JPY. My utmost regard to Japanese taxi drivers for being GPS efficient, respectful and highly professional. Tipping is not encouraged in their country and I refuse to do so despite his wonderful service because it might be indifferent for him. True enough, actual fare was below the estimate at 3,640 JPY or PHP  1,700. 

Delighted that our hotel is smacked right in the middle of the busy shopping Shinsaibashi area. We can shop to our hearts content with stores just a stone throw away. Yahoooo!

Triple sharing room Php 8,054/night. Excludes breakfast but location is everything!

Awed by swanky hotel amenities 

This is where dreams are made of! (tee-hee) The largest shopping area in Osaka. Endless boutique and specialty shops are located in a covered walk way enticing both locals and tourists. 

Not to miss and should be on top of your list is Pablo's Cheesecake. It has gained a cult following indicative of the store's long queues out of their dreamy cheesecake. Every component was pierced together brilliantly. Aside from the original medium/rare flavor, try the Matcha Azuki as well.

Rummaging the streets of Shinsaibashi in my blue floral Yukata

It's such a breathe of fresh air strolling around on this neighborhood knowing how safe you are in the middle of the night. Everyone was tourist friendly to boot!

You'll find dedicated bicycle parking almost everywhere. Amazing how many people don't lock their bikes up. Honestly rules!

If Shinsaibashi is for glitzy and galmour shopping, Dotonbori is Osaka's kitchen for restaurants and food. Watch out for my next post on Dotonbori.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Wizarding World of Harry Potter ( WWOHP ) at Universal Studios Osaka, Japan

Consider staying in an official USJ partner hotel like Hotel Keihan Universal Tower for an exclusive early bird passes to the park.

So what's the fuss in coming early to the park? Simply put, its to score that elusive Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWOHP) timed entry tickets.

If lining up early doesn't excite you, one may either check the online crowd calendar prediction to decide on ideal travel dates or avail an Express Pass ticket to skip the long lines on the park's famous rides and attractions.

Although one would be distracted by these lovable characters, better skip 'em first.  The goal is to make a mad dash towards the designated area to get WWOHP time entry tickets. Click here for the location.

Expect a series of exciting and over-the-top thrills because USJ is celebrating it's Re-booOoorn 15th Anniversary.

The magic of entering WWOHP starts here with Mr. Weasley's enchanted car.

A magnificent area reproducing the world from Harry Potter stories on an overwhelming scale and with meticulous attention to detail.  

Lining up to try the ever famous butterbeer! A sweet, non-alcoholic beverage reminiscent of butterscotch and shortbread. 

For an additional 500 JPY, better get the butterbeer on its souvenir mug instead of the usual plastic cup it comes with.

Harry Potter fans are all abuzz about butterbeer, and I've got the foamy mustache to prove it.

Honeydukes is soo dainty! A sweetshop full of unique sweets loved by students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. See and feel the thrill by clicking on this instavideo.

Harry Potter merchandise, anyone? Mind you these HP robes are pretty neat and dreamy but ridiculously way overpriced. 

Collectible wand sets

Tavern dining at the Hogsmeade 

A feast at the Three Broomsticks

Still dreaming of this smoked rotisserie chicken and spareribs platter with corn on the cob and roast potatoes. 

With a dash of luck, happily brought home a baby cookie monster from Coin Pitch, one of the 1000 JPY carnival games.

A bunch of cutesy USJ merchandise and souvenirs

Aftermath of the ReboOOrn 15th Anniversary Parade. Catch some of its highlights here

Outside the park is the Universal City Walk

A shopping mall with multiple official Universal hotels and restaurants and shops including stores selling Universal Studios merchandise and various Osaka souvenirs. GAP Outlet store is on the ground floor. The Takoyaki Museum is located on the mall's fourth floor.