Hassun course at Kikunoi Roan: skewer of miso-marinated avocado, smoked salmon and Tai liver; grilled squid with nori seaweed and egg yolk; fava beans, mountain yam "butterfly;" poached egg-bearing octopus; Tai sushi with Kinome pepper leaf; Yurime lily root petals; Udo stalk petals; ikura.
Indeed, what about the food? The trip was planned after all, in CCDD fashion, around food. It's been absolutely glorious - from the high-end to the low, from street food or market stands to Michelin-starred establishments and smoky izkayas, train station ekiben or small ramen-yas filled with salarymen... we've been eating very, very well.
In Osaka, I think I quite had my fill of takoyaki; DD kept wanting to sample these wherever we went, and we ended up tasting some from 4 different vendors. We also loved sushi fresh from Kuromon market and Endo Sushi in Osaka's Central Wholesale Fish Market, similar to, but not as big as Tsukiji.
These okonomiyaki were the 2nd version we tried and my favourite. They were not as molten on the inside as our first batch, which I liked. I also enjoyed the fact that their sauce did not seem as cloyingly sweet as other sauces; I also really liked the kewpie mayo and generous sprinkling of negi.
I found Endo Sushi through reading ChubbyHubby's blogpost. It's a tiny sushi-ya with tons of character. Come in and order omakase, which comes 5 pieces at a time (one piece is always chu-toro), and you order as many plates as you can handle. DD and I managed 3 plates each, along with a bowl of miso soup with those delicious teeny clams.
Ramen, of course, has played a large part in our choices; the best I've had so far has been in Kyoto (where we are now) at Takaraya Ramen in Pontocho, as recommended by KyotoFoodie. Kyoto ramen is known for their lighter broth based on chicken and occasionally blended with tonkotsu pork broth. Ichiran in Osaka was another favourite, where one ordered their bowl plus any accompaniments first via ticket machine (thankfully there were helpful photos to accompany the buttons written in Kanji).
Sometimes when we arrive at a place or are biding time before we leave, we head to the market immediately and nosh on street/ market stall food. The photos below are from Kanazawa's Omicho Market, where we snacked on skewers of squid tentacles and hotate scallops before departing for Kyoto.
We've also been staying at Ryokan that offered meals with their rate plan - so far Ryori Ryokan Hanaoka (which we found thanks to Paul) has been absolutely amazing, with our innkeeper serving an unbelievable 13-course dinner and a 7-course breakfast for about ¥1600, or $20 per person more than what we'd normally pay for lodgings without meals.
And then there were the higher-end meals at the Michelin-starred: Hirogakido, where we met Hideki; Kichisen (chef Yoshimi Tanigawa defeated Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto in 1999); and today, Kikunoi Roan, whose Hassun course graces the top of this post. Accounts of those are reserved for separate postings and flickr sets altogether...