A symphony of food at Matsusaka Yakiniku M in Dotonbori, Osaka

To make sure you’re all caught up with my Japan blog entries, start here:

We were in San Diego just a few days before we left for Japan. Nancy and I drove nearly 3 hours to hang out with many of our friends and caught Lea Salonga’s afternoon concert at the majestic Copley Symphony Hall. Lea wowed the sold-out crowd of nearly 2200, and delivered an afternoon of pure entertainment. No need for flashiness on stage. No, wait. It wasn’t just Lea. No just her voice that was her instrument. Not just her incomparable band led by Larry Yurman. But Lea brought along her crutches, yes, she’s on her way to a full recovery after a skiing mishap in Japan last January. But that did not deter Lea from delivering nothing less than spectactular. Lea delivered. She always does with every performance.

When you combine music and food with dear friends

After the concert, a good amount of friends and family all headed down to Hillcrest, and had dinner at Ortega’s, a Mexican Bistro. We all shared the evening and had dinner with Lea, toasted to all the friendships we’ve kept through all these years. Photo credit: Gina Smith.

The Early Show Gang at Ortega’s, a Mexican Bistro in Hillcrest (San Diego)

 

With us and Lea
With Gina and Tin
With Lolo Fletcher and Tin
Mimay and Nate with Lea
So good to see Tin again
Say cheese – as in Queso Fundido

 

You’ve gotta try M

Prior to us all parting ways that evening, when Lea learned that we were headed for Japan (and Osaka as one of our stops), she suggested that we try this restaurant known for their amazing beef selections. She mentioned the restaurant is known as M.

Just before we flew to Japan, Lea and I exchanged messages and she got me in touch with the Manager at M, Kuniyoshi Okamoto aka Kuni.  Once introduced, Kuni and I stayed in touch and made plans for our visit at M or Matsusaka Yakiniku M in Dotonbori. However, with the crazy schedule travel schedule we had, it was just on Sunday when I finally nailed down the day and time of our visit. Kuni was patient and flexible with me. He wanted to make sure I had a reservation.

Finally, the visit at M

Monday came and the reservation we had was at 12 noon. Nancy and I took Evan and Caitlin with us, while Maddie and Ethan stayed with the rest of the family. He gave us the address. and fortunately, the location was also in the heart of Dotonbori which is famous for all the foodie spots in the area.

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Outside the M

We got to the restaurant shortly before it opened at 12 noon. There were people already waiting in line (with their reservations). We were the 4th group called up.

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We walked upstairs. The anticipation actually started as we walked up the steps where we were greeted with these floor lamps.

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We were led to the section on the left side where another family was about ready to dine, but we had wooden blind partition in between us.

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FACT: My eyes are bigger than my stomach

I had a built a biit of an appetite. Since it was already noon, I was ready to have a feast. We didn’t know what to expect. But I knew it wasn’t your typical American steakhouse kind of a restaurant. I also knew that we would be eating quite a bit that afternoon, so I wanted to eat moderately so I could enjoy the rest of our day in Osaka.

The flight plan

Nancy and I perused the eye-popping menu. You get this feeling of wanting to say, “I’d love to try that, and that, and this one, and that…oh and one more!” But I behaved. So here’s what we ordered (link to the menu):

  • Matsusaka Marbled Beef Sushi (I mean, c’mon!!!)
  • Japanese Thicken Thigh
  • Matsusaka Beef Ramen
  • The Standard Course
    • Assorted appetizers
    • Matsusaka Short Rib with Garlic Sauce
    • House salad
    • 3 different parts of Matsusaka Beef (lean beef)
    • Rice
    • Dessert

Meeting Kuni

Kuniyoshi or Kuni stopped by before our dinner He made sure to make us feel very welcomed during our visit. He mentioned to let him know the next time we visit Osaka and he’ll give us more recommendations.

The M Experience

Wendy, our waitress, took our order and within minutes, the appetizers came along with the Matsusaka Short Rib with Garlic Sauce. There were also veggies, a house salad with a beautiful radish. They turned on the grill in front of us. She grabbed a piece of fat, and rubbed the fat on the hot grill that served as oil or grease for the meat.

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House salad
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Vegetable appetizers
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Matsusaka Short Rib with Garlic Sauce
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Matsusaka Marbled Beef Sushi

The sushi looked like a work of art…c’mon just look at it. It was down right tender.

Evan’s beef ramen came. I gotta tell you the beef flavor was just right. There were vegetables served with the ramen. My little Evan was happy.

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Caitlin had chicken which we grilled and she ate that with rice. We seasoned it with the sauces that were served. Everything looked very simple. Cooking is supposed to be that way. It does not need to be complicated.

Finally, the main course was served. We had a selection of 3 different parts of Matsusaka Beef (Short Rib, Rib Eye, and Ran-Ichi – which the thigh). All of them were lean beef. There was this other little serving bowl that we used to flavor the beef before putting them on the grill. The beef were all so lean that it didn’t take that long to cook them. Here are the pictures and my video:

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No need to cook the beef for very long
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Ooops!
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Lemon and chocolate ice cream

After we finished eating, Kuni stopped by again, and this time, he brought with him big chunks of beef, which he introduced in this video.

Thank you, Lea and Kuni

It was a time-well spent. The food, the company, the experience – we enjoyed it all, and we vow to come back again in the future. Our lunch was just the perfect portion. It was more about the quality of food that we ate – that was paramount. The service from the staff was spectacular. They attended to our needs. We didn’t feel rushed. We spent two hours, and took our time and savored the experience. I highly recommend the M restaurant. While Osaka is known as a foodie mecca in Japan, take the time and experience excellent selection of beef, take your time, and enjoy your visit at M.

 

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