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Great Amerikamura Experience with Takoyaki and Beer in Sankaku Koen!

Great Amerikamura Experience with Takoyaki and Beer in Sankaku Koen!

Osaka 2014.07.21 Bookmark

Translated by Masahisa Matsunuma

Written by 1538th

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What is Amerikamura?

There is an area in Nishi-Shinsaibashi called Amerikamura(American Village; アメリカ村),or Ame-Mura(アメ村), as the locals call it, where mainly young people in their 10's and 20's hang out.
In contrast to Higashi-Shinsaibashi busy with department stores and shopping streets, Nishi-Shinsaibashi used to be a quiet warehouse area. During the 70's and 80's, warehouses were renovated to sell imported items including vintage clothes and surfboards and the area started attracting more and more young people. Since imported items especially from the United States were popular back then, this area came to be called Amerikamura.

Today Amerikamura is home to unique fashion retail stores including "Harajuku-kei"(原宿系) and "Onii-kei"(お兄系) besides casual clothing stores, variety stores offering domestic and international items, live music venues and therefore young people who show up on weekends dressed in their own style.

The center of Amerikamura is the Mitsu Park(御津公園) located on a busy intersection. It is a small, triangle shaped park; hence its nickname "Sankaku Koen"(Triangle Park, 三角公園). The park is a popular meeting point and resting place as you can sit on the bench or steps.

Takoyaki. Osaka Specialty Food.

If you come to the Sankaku Koen, you must smell mouthwatering aromas of takoyaki sauce and dried bonito flakes. They come from takoyaki specialty restaurants, Osaka's favourite fast food.

Takoyaki is

a ball-shaped Japanese snack made of wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a special takoyaki pan. The heavy iron evenly heats the takoyaki, which are turned with a pick during the cooking process to pull the uncooked batter to the base of the rounded cavity.
(according to Wikipedia)

Among many takoyaki restaurants around the Sankaku Koen, I tried and compared three of them.

Famous Restaurant Kogaryu's(甲賀流's) Classic "Sauce-Mayo"

Located right across from the Sanakaku Koen, this is probably the most recommended takoyaki place in the Ame-Mura area.

Their takoyaki is just about bite size with its crispy exterior and soft interior. With its octopus pieces bigger than the standard, you taste a solid flavour of octopus, which comes together with the flavours of dashi(Japanese soup stock; だし) kneaded in the dough and red pickled ginger that is used to accent the takoyaki ball.

The most popular menu item is "Sauce-Mayo(ソースマヨ)"(350 yen per 10 balls). It is brushed with sweet sauce and mayonnaise, and sprinkled with dried bonito flakes and green laver. Try this one first. It's classic.

I also tried "Negi-Pon(ねぎポン)"(450 yen per 10 balls) which was a rather new menu item.
It is brushed with mayo and then sprinkled with lots of chopped scallions, ponzu(soy sauce with dashi and citrus vinegar; ポン酢) and optional shichimi togarashi (Japanese spice mixture containing seven ingredients; 七味唐辛子) on top. It looks impressive, but it is not so heavy and rather light like Japanese traditional food.

Takoyaki just out from the oven is really hot inside, but the ponzu cools it down a little bit. That secretly helps those with a sensitive tongue to eat it.

Their take out items come in a container with a lid wrapped with retro-ish ninja-printed paper. It's so cute.

Hospitality in Typical Osaka Fashion at Shiranngana!(知らんがな!) Restaurant

To the west of the Sankaku Koen stand two takoyaki specialty restaurants almost side by side. There are often queues for each of them.

One is Shiranngana!, further back in the picture, which is such a funny place full of jokes that you feel like pointing out every one of them.

They brought me a menu while I was in the queue. Look at this.

All the prices are in "man yen" (in ten thousands; --万円).
This is a popular traditional joke in Osaka, but maybe you hear it only at stores and restaurants with middle-aged or elderly men and women today. Anyway my turn came and I made an order. Then a woman at the cashier cheerfully replied, "Thank you. It's 4 million yen!" (*meaning 400 yen)

I tried "Salt flavoured with extra scallions(しお味、ネギ大盛り)" (4 million yen per 6 bullets) recommended by the restaurant.

It is beautifully served on a boat shaped dish. Their takoyaki balls are big with its mildly crispy exterior and fluffy interior. The mixed flavour of salt, mayonnaise, scallions and dried bonito flakes makes me eat as many as I want.They offer many original menu items such as "Beef Sinew(牛スジ)", "Cod row and cheese(明太チーズ)". They are worth trying.

"Ganso-Donaiya" with Spinning Takoyaki on the Signboard

The other one, which is in front in the fourth picture above, is Ganso-Donaiya known for its big takoyaki balls spinning on the signboard.
Among the three restaurants in this article, Ganso-Donaiya offers a closer look at takoyaki being cooked than the other two.

The cook's hands were moving so fast that the picture was blurred.

A waitress asked me if I wanted my takoyaki sprinkled with green laver because it likely gets stuck in your teeth.
I immediately said, "Sure!". Then she jokingly replied, "Oh you'd better be more careful!" (I highly recommend you check if green laver is stuck in your teeth after you finish eating!)

I tried their most popular dish "Salt-Mayonnaise(塩マヨネーズ)" (350 yen per 8 balls).

Their takoyaki has a crunchy skin with a creamy filling. Its size is big enought to make your mouth full. The simple mixture of salt, a little extra mayonnaise, dried bonito flakes, green laver creates a great taste.

What is the Best Way to Eat Takoyaki?

Takoyaki is at its best out from the overn.
Buy some at your favourite takoyaki restaurant and get some beer or tea at convenience stores. Then eat it, sitting on the bench or the steps in the Sankaku Koen. Have a simple and easy, yet great meal and fully enjoy your Amerikamura experience.
There is more on weekends. You might run into street performers such as musicians, idols and comedians.

One last thing to note; you should be really careful about takoyaki right out from the kitchen because it is extremely hot. If you eat a takoyaki ball in one bite, you are likely to get your mouth burned... Have something to drink ready and eat little by little at first.

The texture of takoyaki differs depending on the cooks and restaurants. That is a fun part, too. So if you come to Amerikamura, try some and compare.

Information

Name: Osaka Amerikamura Kogaryu Honten
Address: 2-18-4 Nishi-Shinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Hours: Open throughout the year. 11am to 8pm Sun-Thu, 11am to 10pm Fri, Sat, Day before Holiday
Wi-Fi: Unknown
Credit Card: Not Accepted
Language: Japanese
Menu in Foreign Languages: Unknown
Station: 5 mins walk from exit #7 of Shinsaibashi Station on Metro Midosuji Line/Tsurumi Ryokuchi Line
Access: Take exit #7 of Shinsaibashi Station and go out of the OPA building. Then turn right(south) and go two blocks along Midosuji street. Turn right at the Apple Store corner. Go three blocks and you will find it across from Mitsu Koen (or Sankaku Koen).
Price: 150-450 yen
Religious Information: Unknown
Phone: 06-6211-0519
Website: http://www.kougaryu.jp/

Name: Shiranngana! Amerikamura Branch
Address: 1-16-16 Nishi-Shinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Hours: Open throughout the year. 11am to 11pm Mon to Thu, 11am to 24pm Fri, 10am to 24pm Sat, Fri, Holidays
Wi-Fi: Unknown
Credit Card: Not Accepted
Language: Japanese
Menu in Foreign Language: Unknown
Station: 5 mins walk from exit #7 of Shinsaibashi Station on Metro Midosuji Line/Tsurumi Ryokuchi Line
Take exit #7 of Shinsaibashi Station and go out of the OPA building. Then turn right(south) and go two blocks along Midosuji street. Turn right at the Apple Store corner. Go four blocks and you will find it behind Mitsu Koen (or Sankaku Koen).
Price: 200-700 yen
Religious Information: Unknown
Phone: 06-6245-6808
Website: http://shiranngana.com/

Name: Ganso-Donaiya Shinsaibashi Amerikamura Branch
Address: 1-16-15 Nishi-Shinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Hours: 11am to 10pm
Closed: Unknown
Wi-Fi: Unknown
Credit Card: Not Accepted
Language: Japanese
Menu in Foreign Lanugage: Unknown
Station: 5 mins walk from exit #7 of Shinsaibashi Station on Metro Midosuji Line/Tsurumi Ryokuchi Line
Take exit #7 of Shinsaibashi Station and go out of the OPA building. Then turn right(south) and go two blocks along Midosuji street. Turn right at the Apple Store corner. Go four blocks and you will find it behind Mitsu Koen (or Sankaku Koen).
Price: 350-600 yen
Religious Information: Unknown
Phone: 06-6243-0718
Website: http://www.donaiya.jp/

Reference: http://americamura.jp/en/index.php

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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