Sunday, April 12, 2015


Another great memory of Osaka was the seemingly provident chance encounter with Helena, the gracious owner of Kyong Ju Restaurant, right beside the Family Owl Cafe in Tenjinbashi.

We had spent the whole afternoon walking the Tenjibashisuji Shotengai (Shopping Street) and we need to rest our feet. We were at the end of our wits and nearing the end of the 2.6 kilometer length of the shopping area when we spotted our destination but it was still closed. 
We decided to get a drink at Helena's restaurant because it had pretty cranes sculptures by the entrance. It was empty, except for Helena and a food server. She asked us if we wanted to have early dinner. We replied that we were only there for a drink as we were going to the Owl Cafe.  She served us a couple of sodas and offered to have us pay for the drinks after we got back from the Owl Cafe if we promised to have dinner at her restaurant after. It was so sweet of her, so we agreed.
The crane sculptures are made by her brother
It would have been so easy to run away from the offer. After all, a couple of Cokes wouldn't cost her much (In my very Pinoy mind, it was also possible that this was some sort of a trap to charge us with an overpriced dinner). When we went back to the restaurant, Helena was graciously thankful for the small business we were giving her that night. The restaurant was still empty.  She wasn't expecting much weekend dinner patrons as her clientele are mainly locals during lunch hour. (By this time,  guilt crept in... I did think about of leeching her for 2 sodas!)

She recommended several items, mostly dishes with vegetables, which the hubby, a professed carnivore, secretly balked at. She shared that she was Korean who got married to a Japanese. Her recipes are a mix of Japanese and Korean style of cooking which she developed as a home cook in her kitchen.

Her version of  Okonomiyaki, a 'pancake' popular in the Kansai and Hiroshima areas, had okra, leeks and bell pepper. This is more akin to the Kansai style of cooking where the ingredients are mixed in (versus the layered style of the Hiroshima region). The batter is a mixture of flour, tororo (grated nagaimo yam), eggs, shredded cabbage and dashi (stock made from kelp and fish shavings). I had never seen the hubby eat so much vegetables!
Okonomiyaki= Okonomi (what you like) + yaki (grilled)
For our main course, we had Beef Yakiniku (grilled meat) with chahan (Japanese fried rice) and a fresh Mizuna (Japanese mustard) salad with Kimchi dressing. Helena cooked the beef for us, sharing stories of her family and life in Japan. Her hospitality made this feel like a home-cooked dinner.
Beef Yakiniku
Mizuna Salad with Kimchi dressing

Address: 1-13-4  Tenjinbashi, Kita-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan
Telephone: +81 6-6242-8751

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