When in Osaka you have to eat okonomiyaki (お好み焼き/Japanese savory pancake) right? Rhetorical question.
Big Brother and I wanted to check Houzen-ji San Pei out after seeing it on a must try list of LadyIronChef. So I plugged in the address into Google Maps aaaaannnnndddd we got lost… For about 30 minutes… But we finally found the place (because I finally recognized the hanzi/kanji) in the Edo period pedestrian Hozenji Alley which is parallel to the Hozenji Temple. Yup. Good job, us.
We arrived just a little after the lunch rush so we were seated immediately. Houzen-ji San Pei has English menus for those who can’t read Japanese but while we were there everyone else was speaking Japanese. Maybe we came at a perfect time when no other tourists were there 😛 As we ordered our food which included two different kinds of okonomiyaki we realized that wouldn’t get to cook it by ourselves on the grill in front of us. Probably because they knew we’d mess it up. However, they did serve it on the grill at our table so that it stayed warm throughout our meal and we still got to use our cute spatulas.
We started with sautéed beef tripe with a side of kimchi. Tripe is basically a cow’s stomach lining. That may sound gross but it’s actually delicious if you don’t think about it. The tripe in this particular dish didn’t look like the tripe that I’m used to. To the point that I didn’t really feel the texture that I expected and the tripe slices looked like pork belly. It had that simple but feel good soy sauce marinade taste which was tasty and went surprisingly well with the kimchi.
On to the stars of the show, we had first ordered an okonomiyaki that included beef, beef tendon, cabbage, green onion, and konnyaku (こんにゃく/konjac). I think that okonomiyaki is traditionally ordered with pork as the meat component but this was number 1 on the must try list so we went with it. As the okonomiyaki arrived at our table, the prospect of being able to cut it and dress it ourselves was trivially exciting. Looking at it, I remember seeing okonomiyaki as a kid and freaking out when I spotted the katsuobushi moving with the wind. I was a weird child. The beef was tender, the tendon and konnyaku were gummy, and the cabbage was crispy. A little on the salty side but nothing was overcooked and everything was what I imagined a proper okonomiyaki to be. These guys really knew what they were doing.
The second okonomiyaki we ordered consisted of baby shrimps, shredded shiso (シソ) leaves, and cheese. I’m just gonna go ahead and say that shiso goes great with everything! It’s got that sharp minty flavor that I really like but you probably won’t if you don’t like mint. The shiso also made the cheese taste less cheesy cause that could be too string sometimes. This one was truly my fave dish, if only I could add konnyaku to it then planets would align and the world would be at peace. Ehhh… One can dream!
Finally, because we were still hungry (read: matakaw for life), we decided to have an additional order of a simple pork and onion omelette. Served with some Japanese pickled ginger, we were able to easily crush the perfect folds of egg and pork. I would describe this dish as similar to omurice (オムライス/omelette rice) but with pork slices instead of rice. The egg was sweet and gave a good finish to our very filling meal. Pickled ginger to cleanse the palate and just like that all the food was in our tummies.
I can’t say that Houzen-ji San Pei was particularly spectacular but it was an experience I won’t soon forget. Walking through Hozenji Alley definitely instilled the ambiance we were looking for in Osaka. Although it’s also considered a tourist attraction, I much preferred the small street to the bright lights and crowded walkways of Dotonbori. If and when I get the chance to visit Osaka again, this is one place I’d like to hit up. Without getting lost that is.
法善寺 三平 Houzen-ji San Pei
1 Chome-7-10, Dotonbori
Osaka-fu, Japan 〒542-0071
+81 06 6211 0399
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 1700H – 2300H (Last order at 2230H)
Friday 1700H – 0000H (Last order at 2330H)
Saturday & Day before holiday 1130H – 0000H (Last order at 2330H)
Sunday & Holiday 1130H – 2300H (Last order at 2230H)