On our last night in Osaka, we met up for dinner with Akemi’s old university friend, Ayaka, for some long overdue yakitori. The girls had a great time catching up while I just tried my best to KEEP up. Fortunately, on the occasions when the conversation went over my head, there was the food to command my focus –
We all did skewers while Ayaka and I had a couple of beers. The standout plate of the evening, at least as far as I was concerned, was the horumon bowl – sauced offal crowned with an egg yolk.
After dinner, I was in dessert mode. We took a stroll and ended up at the Miyazaki-inspired Maison de Gigi for some chocolate-dipped waffles and a hazelnut latte.
I was exhausted and went to sleep as soon as we got back to the hotel. Then, of course, woke up at 1:00 a.m. But managed to fall back asleep at around 2:00 and stayed asleep. Until 6 a.m.
We took one final walk around Osaka and grabbed several breakfast bites along the way –
Akemi helped herself to some convenience store open. The floating white clouds (super fluffy fish cakes) are her favorite!
I perused some of the amazing baked goods, among them THE chocolatiest chocolate croissants ever made, but ultimately settled on –
A breakfast bonanza that included the ubiquitous curry pan (deep-fried and stuffed with sweet curry pork), a five-pack of butter caramel cookies, a super Hokkaido creamy cream bun, and the Ruby Kit Kat, presumably made from the rare ruby cacao bean. Despite its fruity undertone, I quite liked it, possessed as it was of a nice sweet and ever so slight sour balance.
Oh, and lest I forget – we also grabbed the famed Osaka pork bun – Go Go Ichi! There are always line ups outside these stands and now I know why. Plump, sweet, delicious!
We caught the shinkansen to Nara. After prepping by watching a slew of Nara-themed youtube videos, I was fully expecting to be swarmed by the famed deer that roam their streets. Unfortunately, according to Akemi, the deer are confined to a specific park and, sadly, don’t share the roadways with cars and pedestrians.
Along the way, we stopped at the city’s most famed mochi shops where the glutinous rice desserts are made by hand (and wooden mallet), beaten into a sticky, goopy consistency that Akemi is such a fan of.
Eventually we arrived at our destination, the Aota family temple where Akemi’s father was laid to rest. Akemi’s mother, older sister, and younger brother were in attendance along with about a dozen other close family members. After a short ceremony presided over by the temple monk, we were preparing to head back to the station and start our long journey back to Tokyo when Akemi’s sister waved me over and handed me a bottle. She informed me it was a final gift from me from Akemi’s father.
I couldn’t believe it. A bottle of Yamazaki 18, my favorite whisky, incredibly expensive (at $500 dollars a bottle) and almost impossible to find. I am touched.