Well hello, it’s me again! Coming at ya from Hiroshima with my round up of vegan junk in Osaka. Apart from a day trip on my last visit I had never been to Osaka before so it was most excellent to spend a little extra time and eat a lotta extra food.
This time around we went fully natch and hit up Minoh Park, a forest on the outskirts of Osaka but only a quick trip from the city. It’s a pretty casj walk to the top so even those allergic to fitness can manage this one, though I wished it was a couple of degrees cooler.
On the way up to Minoh Falls you’ll see plenty of little stalls and restaurants as well as super dope natural and cultural stuff. Maple leaves are the symbol of this little mountainous town and you’ll see them used all over the place, including tempura maple leaves being sold in many of the stores (I didn’t have the chance to find out if they’re vegan). The falls are effing sick and well worth the climb, especially when a monkey gets thrown into the mix! This little guy came out of nowhere and wandered around the perimeter of the falls, almost as if he was posing for photographs before scampering back into the trees. What a little legend.
After all that walking we had quite the appetite so it’s very convenient that Salunpowaku is sitting pretty near Minoh Station, huh? This hella cute little place has a small but appetising menu in an adorable setting, plus it’s cheap so you really can’t go wrong. I opted for the tofu burger, full of salad and vegan mayo plus a teensy minestrone soup with a chocolate soy milk to wash it all down. So tasty it makes you kinda furious that I can’t score something this tight back home!
We hadn’t had our fill of animal sightings for the day so hit up the amazing Neco Republic, a cat shelter in the heart of Shinsaibashi (near Cafe ATL btw!) Unlike the plentiful and uncool cat cafes you’ll find scattered around Japan’s cities, Neco Republic only houses homeless cats and cares for them until they are adopted. You’re able to go in and spend time with the cats, play with and pet those who are willing and enjoy their presence. If you or someone you know want the cat cafe experience while in Japan, look up one of Neco Republic’s locations and help the cats while spending time with them.
Once playtime was up we had built up quite the appetite so went for a little walk to Shama, a vegetarian Indian joint not far from our hotel. It’s another semi-weird underground type situation but a great choice for an inexpensive meal from a pretty extensive menu, from which most items can be made vegan. I chose a set that came with a drink, soup, samosa, momo, spinach naan and two small curries. The curries were ok but it was a real thrill to finally have naan, I haven’t had it since going vegan all those years ago!
For our last full day in this amazing city we thought it was time to do a little shopping and the thoroughly amusing HEP Five in Umeda was the place to do it. 7 levels of fun and fashion with a massive red ferris wheel on top (I went on it last time I was here but chose not to this time). I couldn’t track down anything close enough for lunch so we hit the nearby undercover mall and found a pretty fancy Japanese restaurant but unfortunately I don’t know the name because it was all in Japanese! I managed to find some pickle and cucumber hosomaki, pickled cucumber and pickled eggplant nigiri sushi, some edamame and a pickle plate. All of it was pretty delish minus the pickled eggplant and umeboshi on the pickle plate, it’s a no from me. We headed back in to HEP Five for some final bits and pieces, had a brief stop for melon soda (it’s THE BEST) and headed back to our hotel.
For our final night in Osaka we thought it would be swell to visit one of the most highly recommended restaurants online, Le Coccole. After a 15 minute walk from our hotel we were delighted to find this little place set back from the street and lit up with fairy lights. We took a seat outside (which explains the terrible photos, soz) and we were given a menu. The options for dinner are quiet limited but I opted for a dinner set for 2500 yen which included a leafy salad with a creamy dressing, 3 smaller salads (not exactly sure what they were) and a main meal, I selected what seemed like a creamy risotto dish.
Everything was being run by one super lovely and attentive woman who made us feel welcome and along with the atmosphere and positive reviews, we were pretty pumped. Unfortunately for me the food didn’t live up to the hype; the green salad was good but the others all had one very strong underlying taste and the rice dish wasn’t bad but also wasn’t terribly exciting. I get the impression that Le Coccole may be a lunch venue as the menu looks much more extensive.
Osaka proved to be a different destination to what I thought it would be but for the better. A great contrast of traditional and modern means that you get a very well-rounded Japanese experience in this city. While the hustle and bustle on the street is a little more hectic than Tokyo, it’s a very easy place to get around. It’s also fantastic to see a growing number of vegan-friendly eateries (and customers!) hitting the city.
The next morning we hopped aboard the Shinkansen for Hiroshima (which is where I am now, yay!) If you have any suggestions for eats in the area, let me know as it looks like slim pickings in terms of vegan eats.
Osaka-fu, Mino-shi, Mino 6-2-18, Minoh
Osaka, Japan 562-0001
3-7-17 Minamisemba, Chuo-ku | 3F Miuraya Bldg
Osaka, Japan 542-0081
Osaka, Japan 550-0014