If you look closely, nothing’s ever really black or white.
China and Japan may occasionally throw shade at each other over Senkaku/ Diaoyu islands, and Chinese netizens displaying anti-Japan sentiments, but when it comes to food, both sides can’t get enough of each other. According to an article I read somewhere, the Chinese’ favorite international cuisine is Japanese, and this is especially evident amongst the middle and upper class districts in the major cities. In Shanghai particularly, the love for all things Japanese goes beyond sushi and sashimi. In fact, the city boasts the most ramen, or “rishi lamian” joints in China. Curiously, even oden, or “aodian” gets a lot of love, appearing a staple in many of the city’s convenience stores. Across the East China Sea, the Japanese also reciprocate the love – with Chinese being the favorite international cuisine. Called “chuka”, it forms the backbone of West Japan’s regional cuisine, with the purest form of Chinese fare in Kansai, and Osaka in particular. In fact, there is very few distinguishable differences other than the use of Japanese short grain rice, and the course is plated in a style that’s not dissimilar to a bento set complete with a bowl of rice, soup, main course and side.
Despite seeing it a few times across my most recent Japan trip, I didn’t get the opportunity to try Osaka Ohsho. But I’m not too worried about it since Japan Food Holdings, the company responsible for many Japanese concepts in Singapore, has opened an outlet right here. The first outlet takes over another brand they brought in – Botejyu. Not exactly a big loss, considering that it still has a few more outlets in Singapore. Osaka Ohsho’s signature dish is its gyoza, but the real star attraction are its prices. With none of the dishes or sets costing more than SGD 20 each, it is definitely one of the more affordable spots in the mall. The fact that the Kansai based chain conveniently locates three pieces of gyoza in every set means you needn’t actually order the gyoza at all. If you want to have the gyozas separately, and likely as extra to supplement your three, it’s okay too. The small affords you six pieces for SGD 3.90, and twelve for SGD 7.90.
The media tasting menu wasn’t particularly extravagant, but it certainly did its job highlighting the restaurant’s signatures. We were each served with an Eggplant & Chicken with Miso Sauce set, in addition to a few other dishes. Despite the “Miso Sauce” moniker, it was all very Chinese – it recalled one of those stir-fry chicken dishes served at those Chinese restaurant chains like Crystal Jade or the Paradise group. I have to admit that while it was overwhelmingly ordinary, it is the Japanese rice that really makes the difference. Its lumpy and gelatinous nature makes it very easy to chow down on and on – I simply had no need for a spoon.
Another dish presented that caught my eye was the Fuwatoro Tenshin Han. Essentially a fluffy omelette encasing Koshihikari fried rice from Toyama, and submerged in a hearty yet familiar tasting broth, it was quite the visual spectacle, and tasted equally divine. This, like Osaka Ohsho’s “chuka” menu, is inspired by a similar Chinese dish from Tianjin (Tenshin is Tianjin in Japanese).