It was my friend Sally’s Japanniversary, and to celebrate her third year of survival in Kansai, we decided to take her for tequila and tacos. (She had a show later that night as part of an improv comedy troupe with which she performs, the Osaka-based “Pirates of the Dotonbori,” and we had the idea that we’d get her even more ready for the stage by ordering her multiple margaritas.)
So a group of us went to Ola Tacos in Shinsaibashi − near enough to her performance in a club along Dotonbouri, but far enough so if she needed to walk off a buzz, she’d have the chance. Ola is a small place, but it’s big enough on both flavor and variety to boast 30-40 kinds of hot sauces (from mild to super hot), a huge range of cocktails (from Cubra Libres to the “Malibu Pine” − coconut, pineapple, and dark rum − to the requisite margaritas), as well as a collection of rare tequilas that the very hip bar-chica, Shino-san, assured us are very hard to find in Japan. Shino-san has a long, wild mane of kinky black hair and was sporting a huge sliver and turquoise-studded necklace, and she explained in charming broken English that the chef, her husband, “makes tortillas every day by hand; hand-made tortilla is also very rare in Japan, even if in Mexico, too.” Then she explained that every year she and her husband go south of the (U.S.) border to study Mexican food and culture (and apparently to shop, given her great accessories and all the Mexican-themed decorations dotting the bar and walls).
We started our Japanniversary fiesta with quesadillas, which Ola offers fried or non-fried. Ours was chicken in tomato sauce, blanketed with melted cheese and topped with fresh guacamole and sour cream. We had pozole, a delicious, spicy soup with pork and “giant corn” (a milder, boiled version of the corn snacks sold fried and salted in Kansai’s combini), garnished with sliced onions and jalapeno. Then came enchiladas verdes, with a sour green tomato sauce over chicken-stuffed tortillas covered in cheese. For tacos, we had ones enfolding a spiced mix of beef, pork, and chicken in chili tomato sauce; then ones with shredded beef and cheese; and a finally an order with pork stewed in orange and a peppery achiote spice.
When we left, we were stuffed, Sally was still standing strong--so she didn’t have to stumble an unsteady serpentine path to her performance after all--and we were looking forward to many more Japanniversaries of toasting kanpai with Ola’s tequila.
Ola Tacos & Bar
Marusei Building, 6F
Tuesday - Thursday, 6pm - 1am
Friday & Saturday, 6pm - 3am
Sunday, 6pm - 12am
Menu in English & Japanese; staff speaks English
Drinks from ¥550-¥950 (excluding rare tequilas)
Food from ¥550-¥1050
English Web site @ http://homepage2.nifty.com/olatacos/eng-index.html