Japan Trip 04 of 10: As seen on TV

Aka Places we visited with better things you can watch online.

Osaka in general — No Reservations

We watched this episode on the flight to Japan. I wish they just had all Anthony Bourdain Japan-related episodes of various shows1.

We didn’t go to any specific place he visits on the show in Osaka. Actually, we did go to one of those places that has a bunch of battered and fried stuff. The episode was from 2006 and man I can’t believe it’s been 10 years.

We had similar food though. The battered and fried sticks mentioned above and also takoyaki. And we saw the street with the statue that people take pictures with.

Tsukemen place from Mind of a Chef — Mind of a Chef

Watch: Lucky Peach: Inside Tokyo Ramen Street’s Rokurinsha

There it is, right in the subway station. What isn’t shown on Mind of a Chef is that the shop is part of a line of restaurants in the station nicknamed ‘ramen row’. The wait was about 25 minutes and when you’re near the front you’re pulled out of line to order at the vending machine.

They’re very good about storing your luggage while you eat. The noodles are good and the broth is amazing. I said no to a bib because I believe in myself. Then I proceeded to cover my shirt with broth droplets.

After you finish the noodles, they add hot water to your tsukemen broth so you can have it like soup.

Also, while trying to find the Mind of a Chef clip of this, I saw that YouTube has a similar Lucky Peach episode. Then I remembered on the Bill Simmons podcast, David Chang mentions his foray into TV with Lucky Peach. They shot footage and then it was cut into some episodes of Mind of a Chef. The Lucky Peach episode is like watching the red band trailer of a PBS show. F-bombs abound.

Lawson — appeared on Parts Unknown, but in an Okinawa episode, which we didn’t visit

Anthony Bourdain is better with words than I am. On Lawson:

But there’s… one thing that still has an unholy grip on me. For no reason I can gather, it’s the convenience store, formerly of near-Akron, Ohio, that mutated into a massive Japanese chain. Behold, the wonder that is Lawson. What exactly about this place has its tentacles so deep into my heart and my soul?

I experienced it and love Lawson too. Growing up, we had a convenience store right off base. I think it was a 7-11 but I can’t remember for sure. What I do remember is that it was the pre-field-trip ritual. My mom would drive me there and we’d pick some snacks up. Usually that meant a rice ball and what then didn’t have a name but now we know as Uncrustables.

On this trip, we went to Lawson just about every day. 7-Eleven was another option, specifically when I needed an ATM. We would stock up on water for the hotel room at Lawson. Japan also has the game sort of locked on canned or bottled ice coffee.

I was also able to find Real Gold, though it comes in a Red Bull type can now instead of the small glass bottle that I imagine is what Elixir would be kept in if Final Fantasy were real life.

Also, me and my brother talk about how we used to always drink so much Real Gold when we were kids. And have guessed that it probably had a bunch of caffeine or nicotine or something so it never made it to the US market, even though it’s a Coca Cola product.

I remembered that David Chang has as segment in Lawson. I was scrolling through the Mind of a Chef episode descriptions, then I remembered it was from a No Reservations episode about Cook it Raw. He like, really loves Lawson.

  1. We watched a couple other food-related shows available on the flight. It reminded me how good a host Anthony Bourdain is. Watching the other shows was so cringe-y.