by Matt Kaufman
Three excellent restaurants, located side by side to one another make barhopping a breeze in downtown Osaka.
(OSAKA) I was drinking at Mabuhai with The British Record Collector Analog Attack. We were having a good time chatting with a few of the regulars, one of whom was Mr Yukio Patario, a prolific explorer of Nishinari and beyond who has introduced hundreds of bars and restaurants on social media as a public service. I had often seen him on my feed wearing a yellow bicycle cap, but this was the first time meeting him in person.
Mr Patario told us about R&R and kindly offered to take us there. It was about a ten minute walk from Mabuhai. I loved it from the minute I walked in. Laid back cozy atmosphere with fliers for concerts on the walls and lots of photos of regulars having a good time. One of the women cooking food behind the counter was rocking green hair. I assumed that R&R stood for “rock and roll,” but they actually stand for the initials of the owners, Reiko and Rie. The two friends told me that they started the izakaya a little over three years ago.
Mr Patario ordered a dish for us. I wasn’t paying attention the order was placed so I had no idea what I was eating when I tried it, but I knew it was a winner from the very first bite. So I asked The British Record Collector Analog Attack what he thought it was.He said something like, “I believe it is an aubergine.”“Oh, it’s a zucchini?”“No, that would be a courgette. Aubergine is nasubi.”“Well, this is the best goddamn eggplant I ever had in my life!”*(*This conversation might be slightly embellished, but I can assure you that the aubergine/courgette confusion was very real.)
I had told a couple of friends about R&R and both sent back testimonials raving about the garlic eggplant tempura. “Godlike eggplant,” wrote Shorinji Wes, a carpenter and long time resident of Osaka. “So end of July I got caught in a torrential downpour in Haginochaya. I made the dash into R&R and Reiko served me up a beer. I told her that I had tried to make her garlic eggplant tempura recipe once but didn’t have tempura batter or the proper sauce. She sent me home with a small glass jar of her special sauce. Dreamlike!”
“The eggplant was as good as it looked,”stated Steve Richter, a university professor from Ann Arbor, Michigan. I also tried the chicken cabbage garlic plate. It was great!”Before my next visit to R&R, I took some time to translate the main into English for my own personal use. Sometimes I miss certain menu items because I can’t read the kanji. The 茄子天 ガーリク(Nasubi Ten Garlic) for example. I didn’t know the kanji for nasubi so I would have never had known it was on the menu.
I visited R&R again in September. This time Rie was working along side Reiko. She had dyed her hair blonde. Rie’s husband is a musician who preforms in a duo. They recently played a guerilla-style outdoor show at Awajiya, which is next to the Nishinari Police Station. I told Rie that I was surprised that the police let it go on.”Actually the police weren’t too happy about it,” Rie replies with a laugh.. “They surrounded my husband and made them stop playing.”
I gave Rie and Reiko the English menu and they were happy to receive it. I wasn’t exactly sure about “Mino Ponzu,”which I had translated it as “beef rumen ponzu sauce” so I decided to order it. Delicious. It comes with seaweed and green onions. I also had to try the tonpeiyaki, which I consider the quintessential downtown “shitamachi” Osaka dish. It’s often translated as “rolled pork omelette with sauce and mayonnaise.” Another winner.
As I was enjoying my meal, I noticed a poster for a missing 1 year old cat named Fuku-chan who ran away in June. That just broke my heart. I have a cat and would be devastated if he ran away (See photo of poster).R&R also has a nice selection of daily specials. Whenever I am there, Rie and Reiko are cooking up some new pasta dish that smells delicious. Taishu Sakaba R&R even has a special “Shower and Beer Set”(800 yen). Refresh yourself with a shower in the back room and then enjoy a nice cold beer. Perfect for a hot summer day.
大衆酒場 あーる&あーる 府大阪市西成区花園北2-13-3 Osaka-shi Nishinari-Ku, Hanazonokita 2-13-3Closed：Wednesday. Hours：8：00 am～20：00.Closest Station: Haginochaya and Hanazono Yottsubashi Line.LINKSJapanese blogs and video.Kaai Tomi http://tomikaai.blog.jp/archives/51918304.htmlYamadera http://yamadera.blog.jp/archives/51604620.htmlMr Kyoto Akkie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8aluy6FN8KoSakaba Navi (Shower and Draft Beer coverage) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VxG7wJGVusTabelog https://tabelog.com/osaka/A2701/A270406/27098780/
Taishu Sakaba R&R Menu
Ippin Mono (appetizers)
1. Hiyakko (cold tofu) ¥150
2, Ika shio (salted squid) ¥250
3. Mentaiko (seasoned cod roe) ¥300
4. Jako Oroshi (cold tofu with young sardines and grated radish on top) ¥250
5. Nametake Oroshi (mushrooms with grated daikon)
6. Morokyu (Cucumber with miso paste) ¥250
7. Pirikarashi Kyuuri (spicy cucumber) ¥350
8. Sliced Tomato ¥300
9. Buttered corn ¥350
10. Mino ponzu (beef rumen in ponsu sauce) ¥400
11. Doteyaki 1 skewer (beef sinew stewed in miso and mirin) ¥220.
12. Dashimaki (rolled style Japanese omelet ¥400
13. Cheese ¥400
14. Kimchee ¥350
Yakimono (grilled or pan fried items)
1. Dote Omuretsu (beef sinew stewed in miso and mirin omelet) ¥480
2. Yaki jakoten ¥220
3. Medamayaki (sunny side up fried egg) ¥250.
4. Ham and eggs ¥350
5. Niratama (scrambled eggs with garlic chives) ¥380
6. Nira moyashi itame (stir fried garlic chives and bean sprouts) ¥400
7. Yasai Itame (stir fried vegetables) ¥450
8. Tonpeiyaki (rolled pork omelette with sauce and mayonnaise) ¥450
9. Aka Wiener (Red Wiener sausages) ¥350
10. Horumon Tare Yaki (offal grilled in sauce) ¥480
11. Tori Shioyake (Grilled Salted Chicken) ¥450
12. Tori Teriyaki (Chicken teriyaki) ¥450
13. Tebasaki Shioyaki (Grilled Salted Chicken Wings) ¥450
14. Buta Kimchi Itame (Pork and Kimchee Stir Fry) ¥550
15. Chicken, Cabbage and Garlic Stirfry ¥550
Agemono (Deep Fried items)
1. Torikaraage (Fried Chicken)¥480
2. Tebasaki Karaage (Fried Chicken Wings) ¥480
3. Nankotsu Karaage (Deep Fried Chicken Cartilage) ¥430
4. Fried Potato (French Fries) ¥350
5. Chikuwa Isobe-age (Google it!) ¥350
6. Nasubi-Ten Garlic ( Garlic Eggplant Tempura) ¥480
7. Age-shumai (Deep fried pork & shrimp dumplings) ¥380
8. Agedashidofu (fried tofu in dashi sauce) ¥450
9. Kushikatsu moriawase (Assorted deep fried skewers set) ¥530
10. Ninikumaruage (Fried garlic cloves) ¥350
Additional menu items:
Fried rice ¥680; Omuraisu ¥680; Yakisoba (¥450)
Homemade Curry and Rice (Only available on the 25th to 27th of the month) ¥700 yen.