Kitashinchi is Osaka's famed nightclub/entertainment/restaurant area. It's also where ANA Crowne Plaza is, the hotel I stay in when I'm in Osaka for business. It's such a convenient place for a late night snack or drink.
After a day of meetings, I always need a drink to unwind. I wandered into a small place called Tempura Denden along Dojima road, just a few steps away from the hotel.
I had passed by it many times and had always been attracted by the queues of office workers during lunchtime, lining up for the karaage or fried chicken lunch special.
In the evening though, like many places in Kitashinchi, Tempura Denden turns into an izakaya -- a casual Japanese bar serving small plates along with drinks.
I ordered a tall cold glass of beer and was happy to see that they served Heartland Beer,
a premium euro style pale lager brewed in Japan by the Kirin Company and sold only in dark green bottles. I prefer bottled beer to canned but in Japan, canned beers are more popular.
As a brew, I found Heartland light, refreshing and with a more "western" feel than other more popular, "dry" Japanese beers.
There is a "table charge"or otooshi at Tempura Denden, an additional 500 yen tacked on to your bill. Most izakayas have this and the otooshi gives you one or two small side dishes that are served with your first drink. My first small plate was a sweet salty sticky cluster of walnuts and small dried fish studded with sesame seeds.
The next "tapas" served was this rather generous serving of tofu in a very delectable and creamy yet light yoghurt based dressing. The tofu was firm and just melted in my mouth. Bits of freshly ground black and green peppercorn added piquant spice to the dish. It was all beautifully presented in a dark green bowl -- a bright red slice of a perfectly ripened tomato added that pop of taste and colour.
I ordered hotate (scallop) tempura and my favourite -- cheese chikuwa. Each order had just two small pieces -- as with anything deep fried, these were delicious. I could get addicted to these bite sized nibbles.
Hot melted cheese formed the centre of this chikuwa or fish sausage. The crunchy coating, the chewy fish sausage and creamy cheese provided different textures and mouth feel for this tasty little treat.
Unlike the other izakayas in Kitashinchi, Tempura Denden keeps rather early hours, closing before midnight. Perhaps because there is still lunch to be prepped for the next day.
As I made my way out, I said "gochisosama deshita" (it was a feast) to the chef who was surrounded by the detritus of the evening's customers.
As I looked at the mess of used plates and cutlery in front of him, I added, "O yasumi nasai"(please take a rest).
That got me a cheerful smile!