A few weeks ago I got back to Osaka, my husband T’s hometown, after spending a well-needed extended stay in Boston, my hometown. As T and I arrived back at our apartment near Temmabashi—after my having woken 24 hours earlier, at 3:30am EST, to embark on a 17 and ½ hour flight, a 3-hour layover, the hour-long bus trip from Kansai airport to Hommachi, and then a cab ride to our apartment—we savored our first few moments alone together after weeks of being apart. We threw our arms around each other with an abandon T, being traditionally Japanese, could not encourage in the arrival hall of Kansai airport. We kissed passionately. We gazed meaningfully into each others’ eyes. And then, we engaged in one of our relationship’s most time-honored expressions of intimacy and longing: we went out to eat.
And because T knows how to make me feel like the luckiest girl in the world, he took me to one of my favorite restaurants in Kansai: the small-but-stylish, upscale-but-not-pretentious Ajito, a “Chinese Izakaya” that I think is the best-kept secret in the Temmabashi area.
Ajito opened last year, and with its sleek wooden furnishings, gleaming half-open kitchen, and interesting displays of sparkling glass jugs holding exotic spices, eating there provides an experience chic enough to belie its title of Izakaya.
As we slid into our seats and ordered a bottle of beer (¥480), I began to smell the spices cooking, and immediately my jet-lag started to dissipate. T also ordered a sochu, of which Ajito has a whole wall of unique offerings from Kyushu, along with a selection of sake (¥380 for a glass – ¥3000 for a bottle). Then they brought us our first appetizer—pan-fried dumplings filled with minced pork, scallion, and tiny nuggets of shrimp, all wrapped in a soft, lightly oil-slicked gyoza (¥480) and marinated in a spicy pepper-and-soy dressing—and I really perked up.
We progressed onto a seafood salad, with seared salmon, shrimp, fresh lettuce, a lemon wedge, and a light dressing (¥730). We gazed longingly at the Harumaki (fried spring rolls), one of our usual favorites featuring minced pork, shitake, and other chopped vegetables (¥460), but decided three appetizers might be too much given my travel-weary state. Especially since we had our eyes on three main courses.
We feasted on plates of chicken with sweet miso sauce, peppers, and eringi and shitake mushrooms (¥730); sweet-and-spicy chicken with cashew, dried red pepper, green beans, mushrooms, and onion (¥730); and black pepper beef, stir-fried with eringi mushrooms, spring onions, and red pepper (¥880). By now, the food coma was beginning to set it, compounded by my jet-lag, so I limited myself to just one dessert: their luscious goma dango, or friend sesame dumplings, with a sweet black sesame paste tucked into fried mochi and covered with toasted white sesame seeds.
As the meal ended, we headed home happy but tired, hand-in-hand—hoping that by the time we got there, we would have digested enough of the excellent meal to engage in one other of our relationship’s most time-honored expressions of intimacy and longing.
Ajito Chinese Izakaya
Address: 大阪府大阪市中央区糸屋町1-2-3 大手前恵ビル 1F
Lunch: 11:30 - 14:00
Dinner: 17:00 - 22:00 (LO)
Tel: 06-6910-0022Fax: 06-6910-0033
Map (in Japanese) @ http://r.tabelog.com/osaka/A2701/A270104/27013781/dtlmap/
Menus in Japanese with pictures; Staff speaks limited English.