Jay's 60th birthday coincided with the day we arrived in Osaka so I wanted to make sure he would get a pretty special dinner. But we were still getting our bearings so we didn't quite know where to eat. We ended up in the restaurant floor of the Daimaru department store in the Umeda station area.
In Japan, the big department stores all have an entire floor and even two, dedicated to the business of eating. This is not a food court or a food hall. Very reputable and good quality restaurants can always be found in these places. Since Jay is a tonkatsu addict, we decided that his 60th birthday would best be celebrated with a hirekatsu meal.
Ever health conscious, even while ordering deep fried pork cutlets, Jay chose the smallest portion of hirekatsu. It came with the requisite grated cabbage, miso soup (with bits of pork belly floating around) and something a bit different, toasted sesame nuts and seeds to be ground up into the tonkatsu sauce.
The menu yielded a surprise for me. Amidst the hirekatsu, rossu and pork choices was a special dinner called kyo yasai. Reading further, it was a set of steamed vegetables and tofu that came with appetizers, soup and dessert.
The appetizer portion came on this white plate. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to taste two of these interesting looking amouse-bouches since the waiter explained two contained pork. But the slivers of pickled vegetables in the small black dish were vegetarian enough and so too, the small glass with a pinkish, tart, vinegar based, non alcoholic aperitif that the waiter said would aid my digestion.
I also enjoyed steamed mushrooms and the sweetish slices of shogoin daikon or white radish.
While the vegetables were very fresh and could be eaten just on their own, the set included three types of dipping sauces -- the one I most enjoyed was the black miso based paste which was so good, I even put it on my bowl of rice!
My kyo yasai bento box came with a small dish of flan but a glass of cold Asahi beer was all the dessert I needed.
The better to toast Jay's 60th birthday with! O-tanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu, Jay!
Here's to more meals and travels together!