The Top Line: A great place to catch up with a group of friends and a wide selection of Japanese drinks. The highlight of the food here was the variety and perfect balance of flavours in almost every dish. They do the sweet-salty-soy thing very well and there are certainly winning dishes (eggplant, confit duck) that I would dream about.
The Review: Springfield Avenue is a great little street that lights up at night with restaurants and bars. We found Osaka bar tucked in a little corner with a cute yellow picket fence, short of any flashing signs but with a warm open bar dining floor that leads in to its front court yard filled with long benches, giving it that communal feel. A few smaller tables were available inside for the more intimate groups.
I saw one chef in the tiny kitchen just behind the bar and felt a little bad for him, because I bet he was not expecting the onslaught of food orders that were coming his way (sorry). In saying that, the food came on quite fast and the staff were extremely attentive and well-mannered for such a busy place!
The subtle taste of the sweet and fruity Umeshu came out through the soda. Yes it was light, but it was extremely crisp and clean, making it the perfect drink to go with the Kushi-Katsu (fried skewers) or even Edamame beans.
A bowl of lightly salted edamame beans meant a delectable starter, side or gap-in-conversation filler for any table. Put the whole thing in your mouth and spit the skin out!
This fun little bar snack made me jump back for it! The popcorn prawns were bite sized so you could easily pop on in your mouth. I loved the tempura coating underneath that sweet Japanese orange mayonnaise because you had the crunch and the flavour. One of my favourite dishes of the night! Warning: Please use chopsticks, not your fingers!
Everyone loved the Gyoza! It’s always a crowd favourite and these ones did not disappoint.They were pan fried to a crispy bottom (could’ve been more consistent, as you can see in the photo) but nevertheless, the sweet soy dipping sauce and the soft dumpling skin won be over 🙂
Takoyaki, one of the most popular Japanese snacks to eat at restaurants, festivals, and why not bars? Our takoyaki at Osaka Bar was a little different to any other takoyaki that i’ve had. They came quite soft and deflated. What you would imagine as plump round spheres with a crispy coating and gooey octopus centre did not arrive. Instead, the whole ball was a bit lop-shaped and soggy. In saying that, I did not mind this much! I thought the flavour of the takoyaki was absolutely delicious and the smooth centre with small pieces of octopus melted in my mouth (along with the skin). Not sure if this is what it was supposed to be like, or if it was inconsistent that night, but I didn’t mind these soggy but tasty octopus balls.
This was a beautiful piece of Grilled Wagyu to a medium rare with cod roe mashed potato and Kazu steak sauce. The centre pieces of the beef were extremely tender and the perfect medium rare. The ends were a little more cooked and seemed a bit more tough. There was a thin coating of black pepper which was accentuated by the sweet soy and wasabi sauce. The mashed potato was liked by all around the table 🙂
Our only salad dish of the night, it was a warm salad and everything I love. The vegetables were steamed but then lightly charred for this extra depth of flavor. The pumpkin was cooked til mushy so it completely melted in my mouth. The prosciutto sprinkled all the veges with flavour while the sweet soy based salad sauce complimented the prosciutto very well. This was actually an extremely well balanced plate of flavours.
*Winning Dish of the Night* I loved this one, as did everyone else on the table. The Confit Duck was cooked in 65 degree oil, then seared and grilled. The two streaks of sauce included a miso and a honey mustard sauce with some blueberries and saffron garnishing the dish. The duck melted in my mouth and there was a layer of fat between the meat and the skin, however, this added to the creaminess and blend of all the flavours together. We wanted another one of these at the end of the night!!
This is an Osaka-style sushi, pressed into a rectangular shape with ginger sandwiched between the rice and topping of prosciutto, cheese, sundried tomato and basil paste. For us, this was a little underwhelming. The sushi rice wasn’t pressed together hard enough and fell apart in my chopsticks. I found this rather difficult to eat, quite bland and overall nothing particularly special.
Osaka Bar special recipe, okonomiyaki, this reminded me of a korean seafood pancake with a similar crispy skin and fat, slightly gooey centre filled with pieces of mixed pork, seafood and cabbage fillings. The pancake was drowned in Japanese sauce and Jap mayo, which was mainly what I would remember of this dish.
Ika-yaki is an Osaka style squid pancake, different to other Japanese pancakes because of the batter is more like a savoury french crepe. There is a generous serving of squid in the middle (look at all those tentacles poking out!), with a similar flavour to takoyaki.
A perfect half an eggplant – look at that shine! The meat of the eggplant was soooo soft and melt in your mouth (maybe too much melt because it was gone almost instantly and thus we finished the eggplant in a matter of minutes). It soaked up all the flavours of the braise and oils like a sponge and transferred it right onto my tastebuds, like a perfect eggplant should.
We saw another table order this and our heads turned, so naturally… we had to order this!! It was on the first page of the Winter specials menu so you can’t miss it! Two pieces of grilled Salmon which was absolutely tender and tasty. The skin was dry and crispy. There was a pot of dipping sauce but I didn’t need that at all. Just enjoy the natural flavours and fat of Salmon 🙂
We wanted to try almost all of the Kushi-Katshu skewers!! But when they all came on a plate like this, we didn’t know what was what until we bit into it. We ordered eggplant, mushrooms, chicken thigh, salmon belly, pork tenderloin, wagyu beef and potato croquets. I liked the potato and salmon belly a lot. The best part of these was the crumbed batter. It was crunchy but I never thought it was oily, which made it feel clean and healthy to eat!
After all that food I think we needed dessert. This was the Brown Tea icecream with some fried mochi balls (which were extremely exciting). To be honest, I didn’t like the texture of the ice-cream, it was very icy, not creamy and not that smooth. I tasted a few chunks of ice-cream that stuck together, quite glutonous. In saying that, the flavour was divine. It’s a shame the texture wasn’t so smooth because this had the aromatic taste of Japanese Brown Tea, very distinct from black or green tea!! I liked that a lot!
Osaka Bar, thank you for your hospitality! (Y)