about 5 years ago

After a gruesome 14-hour flight from SFO to HK where I was sandwiched between a Cantonese man who talked in his sleep and another who made weird noises with his mouth, then a somewhat pleasant 3-hour flight from HK to Osaka, I met up with my mom and managed to direct her to drive our rental car from the airport to our bnb without killing someone. Driving on the wrong side of the road was not terrible, but the turn signal controls are now on the opposite hand, so everytime she tried to signal, she turned on the windshield wipers instead.

It should come as no surprise that the first place I went to after dropping our stuff at the bnb was this:

Oh how I missed some of these brands....I only got the essentials today (shampoo/conditioner and makeup removers), but I'll be back for more!

By the way, in this area called 心斎橋 (Shinsaibashi), a lot of employees are Chinese or spoke Chinese. At least 80% of the customers are Chinese-speaking.

I had tabelog-ed (aka yelped) for a place to go to nearby, but my mom was a wimp and couldn't handle some girl smoking at the bar. The place was too small to avoid the smell. She literally bolted out of the store with a hanky over her nose. Apparently my brother has come to name her "the canary". Well, we wandered around the area --- which, by the way, was ridiculously dense with restaurants. I wouldn't be surprised if there were over 100 stores within a 2 block zone. We ended up at another place I vaguely remembered from tabelog, and had their specialty もつ鍋 (motsu nabe) with cabbage, chives, tofu, pork, and some intestines in it.

It was really good. There was no seasoning and you could taste the freshness of the tofu and veggies. The dipping sauce was a mixture of ponzu, soy sauce, and citrus, which greatly enhanced the flavor.

When everything else was eaten in the pot, we ordered soba noodles to be cooked with fresh sesame. It tasted like sesame dessert without the sugar!

Shinsaibashi felt a little like 西門町 in Taiwan. It's touristy and the age group is young. There's also soliciting --- for both food and more shady kinds of service, I think. Stores close around 9-9:30PM, same as in Taiwan. There's H&M, Uniqlo, and Forever21, so besides the Japanese food and drugstores, it feels pretty familiar.

That's it for day 1.

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