Travel Blog #6: Osaka Nightlife

August 25: Aided by the air conditioner I had set to 18°C (to remind me of Canada), I finished my nap and made a beeline for some dinner.

It should come as no surprise that my first proper meal in Japan was sushi. I opted for a conveyer belt restaurant since they’re plenty of fun. The meal came with free matcha green tea, which I was absolutely stoked about.

If the sushi in Taipei was 10x better than back home in Toronto, then the sushi here was 10x better than Taipei. Best sushi of my life at the best prices of my life.

Exhibit A: Otoro (fatty tuna)

– The highest quality tuna, revered for it’s ability to melt in your mouth (and in my case, appear in dreams).
Canada Price: $16-20
Local Price: ¥291 ($3.43)

While I won’t break down their costs, the other pieces were just as amazing.

The plan for after dinner was to head to Dotonbori for shopping, but I stopped in my tracks after spotting something that I couldn’t pass up: an owl café.

Sunset Owl Café charged ¥1,500 for 50 minutes with the owls and a can of good beer (or juice, milk, or tea).

I ordered my drink, paid, and stepped into the owl room. The entire 50 minutes was spent in that room (apart from leaving briefly to down my drink). Between talking to the owl caretaker, petting the owls’ beaks (anywhere else usually makes them anxious or sad), and taking a ton of pictures, time just flew by.

I also got to hold an owl.

Then take more pictures.

When my time was up, the staff thanked me and I went on my way to Dotonbori

Only a few minutes later I hooked myself into another stop that would last from about 9 p.m. to 12:50 a.m. It was a multi-floor arcade called Round 1.

The first floor was all claw machines (and it was here where I spent the majority of my evening). I won two large plushies and a big box of cookies. By the end of the night, I was going around helping the occasional Japanese person win and save several hundred yen in the process.

The other floors had coin pusher games (like an entire floor was just that game x200), rhythm games, fighting games, and more (plus three floors of bowling).

By the end of spending a perfectly reasonable amount of time and money at the arcade, I desperately needed some sleep. Instead, I went to a 24-hour restaurant for some sukiyaki.

From there, I set out on the very long walk to the AirBnB (transit was closed and there was no way I was going to take another taxi anytime soon). An hour went by and I stopped into another place for some more food (and honestly some rest since my legs were killing me). This time I got a japanese omelette, beer, and roast beef (for under $10 by the way).

At 3:30 a.m. I was home. Tired and exhausted I laid down and went to sleep.

Travel Blog Entry 2

August 17: My flight – consisting of watching three movies and reading none of the four books I brought on board – landed at about 9:30 p.m. local time. Having managed to stay up most of the flight I was absolutely exhausted by the time I went through customs, grabbed my baggage, bought a SIM card, took the MRT to Taipei Main Station, and finally lugged my suitcase up 5 flights of stairs to arrive at my AirBnB.

August 18: I woke up at 8 a.m. convinced I had already overcome the jetlag (hahaha, no). After a quick trip to 7-11, I took a much needed shower, drank enough water to hydrate a horse, and headed out to Taipei 101. 

Once I got to the Taipei 101 mall I immediately went down the first escalator I saw (my belly rumbling like crazy as I did so) and made a beeline for Din Tai Fung. Needless to say, I wasnt the only one with this place on my mind. Luckily being a party of one helped me grab a table with relative ease. 

For those of you unfamiliar with Din Tai Fung, it is a world-renowned chain of dim sum restaurants that originated in Taiwan. They are most famous for their xialongbao (soup dumplings). For lunch, I ate xialongbao, steamed pork buns, and spicy vegetable dumplings.

For 600 NTD I bought an adult pass for the Taipei 101 observatory – a massive building that ranks amount the tallest on Earth. Even the elevator boasts a former world record for its incredible speed (~600M/min). The 360° view of the city was incredible (and incredibly intimidating too if I’m being perfectly honest).

Had my stomach not been upset from travel, I would have been able to enjoy bubble tea, mango frozen desserts, and pineapple cakes.

Hanging in the centre of the obsevatory floor there was a huge wind damper that prevents the tower from swaying during typhoons and other inclement weather.

On the way down from the observatory I passed through a (mandatory) exhibit for the Taiwanese coral gemstones. Here are some of the neater sculptures:

The price of the smallest one I could find was 480,000 NTD (~$20,000 Canadian).

Desperately needing a break from the heat and humidity I went back to my AirBnB for some R&R plus air conditioning.

For Shabbat dinner (Jewish sabbath) I visited Chabad, where I conversed with the Rabbi who has been living here for the past six years. A few brief conversations later I excused myself so I could go back to the AirBnB and pass out for the night.

Dessert with a side of inspiration

This article originally appeared on www.westerngazette.ca

By Ellis Koifman

Marky’s Crepe Cafe is a small, intimate spot at the end of the Richmond Row where you can enjoy a large selection of crepes and enjoy the inspirational messages covering the walls.

Owned by Milica Markovic, this little shop offers 20 different kinds of crepes. While people may typically associate crepes with the Nutella-filled joys you can find at various places around the city, here you’ll find a huge selection of crepes that can be eaten for a meal or dessert.

“If other places have waffles or crepes it’s only one or two kinds because they serve other food. Here, we are specifically crepes and waffles,” says Markovic. “We also make crepe cakes. Nobody does that in London. 15 layers of crepes and different fillings. Really unique cakes for birthdays.”

The crepes range from “Fruity Hazelnut” with Nutella, strawberry, banana and whipped cream to the “Omelet” with scrambled egg, bacon, onion and tomato. They even offer some chicken crepes. Markovic emphasizes there are also vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.

Beyond the food lies the heart and soul of the business — Markovic. She is at Marky’s seven days a week working hard to ensure every customer has a great experience.

“It never gets boring because you always have somebody to talk to, to laugh with,” says Markovic. “Lots of our customers like our store because we have a friendly image; they come and say they feel like family.”

In the years since the restaurant opened it has also gained a number of regulars who come in and chat with Markovic and the staff. Some couples even started dating at Marky’s and now bring their children with them to enjoy the crepes.

Despite being popular amongst students today, Marky’s had a rough start. She attests her success to being patient.

“Impatient people, they expect big success, they get disappointed and they close,” she says. “Patience, patience, patience, always…. I could go in some different field, but if [you’re] good in something I think you should keep doing that.”

An entire wall of the small restaurant is covered in inspirational messages, some of which Markovic says had real changes on the customers’ lives. Students sometimes take pictures and then later return to tell Markovic how much of an impact they had.

Markovic came to Canada 25 years ago from Yugoslavia and started from almost nothing, having lost her nutritionist credentials in the move, only to persevere and open a successful crepe cafe in London. She uses this experience to impart life advice on her customers (typically students), acknowledging today’s difficult job market and emphasizing patience.

“I believe if you like something, if you think you are good at something, then you should keep doing that because results will come.”

Marky’s Crepe Cafe can be found at 484 Richmond St. and is open seven days a week.