1 Chome-19-15 Edobori, Nishi Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 550-0002, Japan
Mashika was probably one of my favorite places this whole trip even though we didn’t get to eat a full meal there. Before this we actually had dinner at an amazing hole in the wall shabu shabu spot, so we only had space for a few dishes. I was deeply impressed with the food scene in Osaka, and it is rightfully known as the 食い倒れの街(kuidaore no machi), which basically refers to the act of overspending on food and being left penniless. What a perfect city for my boyfriend and I! But Osaka is much more affordable than Tokyo and we were amazed at the value considering the quality of the food we ate.
Mashika used to be a たばこや(tabako-ya), a tobacco/cigarette shop and the owner’s grandson inherited this little shop and transformed it into a cool concept. A cigarette and sandwich shop by day, and a self-service Japanesified Italian bistro by night. They have a list of rules for the customers to follow, including No.1: This place is self-service but please let the staff know when taking anything. No. 2: All orders must be made by the cashier (extra items can be ordered later) etc. This little rule chart explains that these rules exist so that they can serve great tasting food to us customers at the lowest possible cost. Fine by me!
They had a great selection of wines and sake that were very reasonably priced. According to my friend who lives in Osaka (the one who took us there), the drinks are closer to retail than restaurant prices.
We ordered a few dishes, took our first wine, and sat outside. The place was packed, but surprisingly there wasn’t a line of customers waiting outside. They allow you to stand around and drink if you can’t be seated, and they actually do take reservations. We ate the fava bean fritters with pecorino cheese, lamb mapo tofu and a creamy, cheesy tajarin (pasta) with summer truffles, potatoes and clams. I would have loved some rice with the mapo tofu but we were way too full from our shabu shabu dinner. The tajarin was absolutely delicious- so rich and creamy but not too heavy. The batter of the fava beans was perfectly crisp and light. The food here was so vibrant and flavorful (and full of umami). I’m sure it would have tasted even better had we not eaten dinner beforehand! They had such interesting items on their menu and it’s a shame we only got to try three. They have a blackboard menu so I’m pretty sure the menu changes frequently (seasonal and local).
We had a South African Chenin Blanc and then a Bulgarian Pinot Noir (I’m pretty sure this was my first Bulgarian wine). Both were less than $40 from what I remember.
I’m guessing that a concept like this wouldn’t work in New York City because of the strict (and somewhat meaningless) liquor laws. I’d imagine that self service for alcoholic beverages would be a no-no. It’s really a shame that all these laws in New York prevent creativity in the foodservice industry, especially when it comes to liquor related laws.
I hope that I can come back here again one day to enjoy a full meal!