I might as well say it straight off the bat: if I know anything about any food, then Japanese is not it. In the unlikely event that you're here in search of some sort of, I don't know, expertise, then sorry, but the next few hundred words are set to disappoint. Is the food they're serving up in Osaka - that most contentious of words - authentic? No idea. Does it conform to the conventions of any particular region of that place? Not a clue. I've had my fair share of chicken katsu and half-arsed sushi in my time but that's about it. As blind a guide as I may be, what I can tell you is that the food we had in Osaka went down a treat and I reckon it's well worth your consideration.
A welcome culinary refuge from Grey Street's mid-brow chain fest, the small room has been nicely done out with banquettes around the walls maximising table space without over cramping the issue. There's a fountainy thing just inside the door and various signifiers of far-easterness to catch the eye.
I'm not normally given to raving on about soft drinks, but the house green tea was really delicious, full of toasty rice and seaweed notes and not a bit of that gob-drying aridity that can result from imbibing this brew. Nice cups too.
We set about some tempura soft-shelled crab with the zeal that deep fried seafood demands. This was pretty good stuff, although the batter was more high-class chip shop than eerily light tempura. The crab itself was light and fresh.
Sushi displayed a level of neatness and care that justified it's ordering. The crisp salmon skin maki posessed plenty of that fish's carapace to provide textural intrigue and flavour, while a duck inside-out number was pretty good. Kudos to whoever chopped the cucumber within it into matchsticks so dinky they scarcely existed. There was a touch of clag to the rice which wasn't all bad, merely demanding further green tea to chase it down.
My Tonkotsu broth was hearty, rich and soothing, boasting of long-cooked pork and chicken bones. Slices of pork belly lurked among a strong supporting cast with stand out performances coming from a still-soft boiled egg and some sort of mushroom. Noodles were nicely springy too.
Kasia's salmon bento box was well received, the mirin-glazed slices of cooked fish particularly good.
Service was super friendly and the meal felt like fair value. Prices per dish aren't exactly cheap, although they do a value-tastic lunch offer and they do have some prime Grey Street real estate to pay for. The cooking allowed for the clean flavours of the food to shine through. I'd be inclined to try some of their interesting sounding sake and shochu list next time; never had sparkling sake before.
If you know more than I do about Japanese food I'd be interested to know your thoughts on Osaka. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal, emerging sated but not stuffed into the balmy early evening and will, I'm pretty certain, venture back again.
Osaka, 69 Grey Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6EF
0191 261 5300