Picture courtesy of japaneselifestyle.com
1-6-18 Dotonbori, Osaka
No directions needed. You cannot bloody MISS the restaurant.
Even without discussing the food, the enormous mechanical Crab Signboard along Dotonburi street is an icon no one can ignore. In spite of my detailed pre holiday research, I did not come across anything to recommend me to this restaurant, although I have seen many pictures of the flashy gigantic crab that, in bad times, could be the villian in one of my nightmares. I mistakenly thought that the restaurant MUST be a tourist trap: Loud exterior, exorbitant food prices and not so good food. How wrong I was!
Thankfully, really thankfully, a friend (and I am forever grateful!) beeped us via Facebook to go try the crabs at this particular restaurant, saying it was really good. We believed him, but it was not with a little trepidation that we entered the huge restaurant (it had several floors and we went to the non smoking one) because afterall, crabs are expensive, aren't they? And I have eaten enough pepper and chili crabs in Singapore to know. Again! I was proven wrong.
Once seated at a large table with cute kani decorations like the chopsticks holder above, we proceeded to explore the menu and realised to our utmost joy, how AFFORDABLE everything was. So we greedily ordered a Kani set which include kani sashimi, sukiyaki, etc, and ala carte kani croquettes and a snow kani don. (Actually the Kani set was enough for 2, and we basically over-ordered.)
The kani was SUPER fresh, not surprising seeing the amount of live crabs floating about in the huge tanks on the ground floor of the restaurant. The sashimi was sweet, chewy and fragrant and I just wanted MORE. The crab croquettes were toasty and crunchy, with meaty crab fillings inside. The snow crab don was by far the most disappointing; it wasn't BAD, it just wasn't great like the rest and you could definitely give it a miss.
The highlight was the Kani hotpot which was part of the main set. Tossing in the assorted vegetables, raw Kani into the pot of boiling water gave me a sort of cheap thrill. To drink the deliciously fragrant hot soup on an autumn (or winter) night was simply heartwarming. At the end, an Obasan came over and mixed the remains of the soup base with egg and rice, making a fine kani porridge to end off the meal. I almost cried with tears of joy.
To top off a perfect evening, we got macha ice-cream for dessert (part of the set again). And it was REAL hot macha prepared on the spot in front of us, before the thick foamy drink was poured over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. ALL that luxury (set plus ala carte items) for less than 6,000 yen (SGD 100)!!!!! Highly, highly recommended, and I am so going back there again. KANI FOREVER! (And the crabs must shiver in fear......)