Sunday, December 09, 2007

11/10/07: Day 9 in Japan Part II- Osaka Goldfish

After returning to Osaka, I was looking forward to dinner. This was to be a special dinner, to celebrate a friend's *ahem!* 21st birthday. The small gathering was to take place in Temma (天満), an area of Osaka with a blue-collar feel somewhat similar to Tennoji.

The restaurant was a small joint called "Muscle Hormone," specializing in "hormone." But what exactly is hormone? From the outside, the restaurant looks like your typical Yakitori restaurant. The aroma is obviously grilled meat as opposed to fried. The meat is served on a skewer. While people are ordering using unfamilar terms, everything seems normal.

On the wall is a poster that is the key to this whole thing, as it helps decode the menu. Upon close examination, hormone is the term used to cover intestines and organs, including but not limited to, small intestine, large intestine, stomach (tripe), liver, heart, cheek, tongue, achilles, and hanger steak. The parts came mostly from pigs and cows, including parts from Kobe beef.If this doesn't sound overly appetizing, think "hotdogs." While different parts had different flavors, the most notable differences were the texture, ranging from filet mignon-like tenderness to crocodile-like firmness. The thrill from element of surprise and adventure made ordering fun.

The drink menu was short and sweet: Beer (small, large), house saké, or house shochu. Considering the food, I chose the house shochu , served on the rocks, which turned out to be a mild and easy. On the next serving, my friend told me to order it "kingyo" style (金魚, "goldfish"). Naturally, I thought the worst (hello, college days); but fortunately, Osaka Goldfish meant serving shochu with shiso leaves (a.k.a. perilla) and red hot pepper. Although smooth at first, refreshing mint/ herb and spice gradually kicked in, providing a fiery complement to the hormone. The lesson, as always? Keep your mind wide open, and your mouth even wider.

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