So the plan was for me and Makoto to hit the town last night. Paint it red. Drink it dry. You know the drill.
But then a couple of interlopers decided to join us. My unkle Okazaki insisted he and my mom come with, so they can help tour me around as I grab pictures of Osaka by night. I was shown the city lit up at night. The narrow streets that are home to "hostess bars," where you pay up to 10,000 yen ($100) a drink for a girl to talk to you and pretend to like you. Fancy night clubs where people roll up in tuxedos and evening gowns, whose entryways look like they cost more than entire night clubs in Miami's South Beach.
It seems dear old Uncle had an ulterior motive, though. Like any good Osakan, he wanted to go out and eat. "What do you want to eat, Omi-san?" he asked me. I thought of the two specialties I have yet to try here. "Yakitori and kushikatsu," I told him. He didn't look too pleased. Then I remembered that he doesn't eat chicken (yakitori is various grilled chicken parts) nor pork (you might end up with some fried pork in kushikatsu). "Do you like Yakiniku?" he asked me.
Do I like yakiniku? What red-blooded American male doesn't love grilling his own beef? Just because I'm from San Francisco doesn't mean I'm some hippy dippy vegan puss-wad. Bring on the meat!
And so we sat down for some meat. And more meat. And more meat. And more. Every possible cut of prime, marbelized beef came out on little platters, and we sucked them all down. With copious amounts of beer, of course. And Makoto, knowing I'd really wanted to try various chicken parts, decided to challenge my palate (and potentially my gag reflex) by ordering up some raw liver, marinated tripe, and sliced beef tongue.
I have to admit - the thought of eating raw liver made my testicles tighten up and shrink a bit.
But with a beer chaser ready to go in my left hand, I dunked a small piece of liver in the sauce with my chopsticks and gave it a go.
Oh. My. God.
It was so good. Seriously. I'm not saying this to fool you into going out and trying raw liver, then having a laugh when you barf all over the table. It was delicious. Not liver-y at all. In fact, after my monkfish liver experience the other night, I'm starting to think that cooking liver ruins it.
The tripe and the tongue were great, too, but after uncooked liver, those seemed like child's play.
All beefed out, Uncle Okazaki led us back to the heart of Dotombori so I could take some photos. So, without any further ado, here is your Blade Runner moment from Osaka.
"So, are we ready to go home?" my mom and uncle seemed to ask in unison.
I checked the time. 9:30. "Umm, I thought Makoto and I would, you know, booze it up a bit tonight."
"Oh, ok. I wasn't sure if you kids had had enough!"
I was given a wad of cash and a reminder that the trains stop running around midnight. Other than that, the boys were in business. Once we figured out where we were going.
See, Makoto lives in Italy now, and nightlife in Osaka changes faster than a pregnant woman's mood. So we went into this little office where they have posters of various restaurants and bars. After some deliberation, we settled on one and the agent actually walked us over to the establishment. This is because there are no street names or proper addresses in most Japanese cities. For real.
We were walked to Sweety's. A girl bar. As in a hostess bar.
Ok, so a "Girl's Bar" is a new type of hostess bar. It's not quite this Geisha-quasi-hooker type thing. You just go and pay for drinks, girls hang out with you and you buy them a drink or two, and there's no ridiculous fakeness. I'm not sure if Makoto chose this because he wanted to show me something uniquely Japanese, or if he needed to make sure there was someone there he could talk to.
At any rate, it was a good time. We had a couple of hotties hanging out at our table through the evening. We drank like fishes. And the total cost for the both of us? 8,400 yen. Or about $80. Not bad. Not bad at all. And we did it all in time to catch a big bowl of ramen before the last train home.
Best of all? No hang over. God bless ramen.