Soak it in cold water and eat it? Mystery menu at Machinuka, Osaka…classic dessert “Chinese Potatoes” and “Chinese Katsudon” that is not stewed. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Soak it in cold water and eat it? Mystery menu at Machinuka, Osaka…classic dessert “Chinese Potatoes” and “Chinese Katsudon” that is not stewed.

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Chinese fries” cost more than ramen!

About two years ago, this was a hot topic on TV and the Internet. It was reported that Chinese restaurants in Osaka quite often have “Chinese potatoes”. Some restaurants call it “candied sweet potato” or even “potato” depending on the restaurant.

Potatoes cost more than ramen noodles. Chinese fries are often more expensive than staples.

In fact, “551 Hourai” and “Gyoza no Ousho” used to sell Chinese fries until a few years ago. However, both companies discontinued them for various reasons. However, “Osaka Ohsho” still sells them in some stores.

Why does Osaka Chinese have Chinese fries? To begin with, this menu item differs slightly from the Japanese image of a Chinese college potato in the way it is prepared. After the sweet potatoes are fried, they are coated with a liquid candy made by frying sugar in oil. The surface hardens quickly and becomes stiff, sometimes stringy and candy-like. The official name in China is “nuki ji ji gua” (抜糸地瓜). The Chinese official name for this dish is “ba zhi gua” (抜糸 = fried and candied; ji gua = sweet potato).

In the menu of “Ryu”, the left side is labeled as “Nuki ji gua (potato)”.
It is eaten after soaking in cold water to prevent it from sticking to other potatoes and hardening.

This dish is common mainly in the northeastern region of China, and is thought to have been introduced to Chinese restaurants in Osaka because many Chinese people from northern China moved to Osaka before World War II.

We went to a Chinese restaurant where the employees of that “551 Hourai” restaurant gave their stamp of approval!

Ah. I should not be too long on Chinese fries. This time, I wanted to tell you about another mysterious menu item that came to light when I was following the Chinese fries: the “Chinese Katsu-don” (pork cutlet bowl). I first became aware of the existence of Chinese katsudon at a Peking restaurant called “Ryu (Long)” where I was planning to report on Chinese fries.

It is located right next to a maniacal station called Sakuragawa, but it is quite famous!

At first, I was going to write an article about Chinese fries, so I thought it was at 551 Hourai and contacted the public relations manager, Ms. Miki Hatta. I got this reply.

551 Hourai currently does not sell Chinese fries at any of their stores! But there is a Chinese restaurant called Ryu near Sakuragawa Station that has Chinese fries, which are delicious because you grab the candy with chopsticks before it hardens and eat it cooled with water. I haven’t had them recently because I haven’t been able to get to the dessert part of the meal, but they were delicious. I’m sorry if it’s sold out like ours.”

What a great restaurant! It’s like Shohei Otani saying, “His breaking ball is great. I looked up “Ryu” on the Internet and found it, “Potatoes”. ……? I also found “katsudon” on the menu in various reviews. I’m more interested in that one.

I also checked other restaurants and found that the word “katsudon” appears there frequently. Osaka Chinese restaurants have katsudon quite often. Moreover, in many cases, it is accompanied by a pillow word such as “Chinese style. So, I went to “Ryu” to ask about the two wonders of “Chinese fries” and “Chinese katsudon” on the menu.

I was mildly confused by the presence of a handsome man who looked like a Korean idol in the kitchen.

The fourth-generation owner is a thoroughbred who worked at “Gyoza no Ousho” for many years.

The restaurant was opened about 50 years ago, and the current owner is a young man named Iori Yamamoto, the fourth generation. The current owner is the fourth generation, a young man named Iori Yamamoto, and the third generation is still standing in the kitchen. I was surprised when he replied, “He is a complete stranger; the first four generations are not related to each other in any way. I’m often misunderstood and told, “Is he your son?

Yamamoto’s previous job was at “Gyoza no Ousho” and he was asked to become the owner of “Ryu”. That was in June 2011. In other words, Mr. Yamamoto had only been the owner for about four months when we interviewed him.

He did not know much about the history of the restaurant, but he said that when it was first established, it served very authentic Chinese cuisine, although everyone from the first owner to the fourth generation was Japanese. Perhaps it was someone who worked in a Chinese restaurant owned by an overseas Chinese family who became independent, or something like that. Chinese fries have also been around since then, so it must have been someone who learned the cuisine of northeastern China. Come to think of it, the sign is also Beijing cuisine.

The most popular dish is the curry chanpon noodle set for 820 yen. Sounds delicious. Frankly, I wanted to eat it more than Chinese fries and katsudon.

I started with the Chinese fries. When asked how to make them, I was told that all they do is fry sweet potatoes and dip them in candy. I’m sure that’s true (laughs), but the difference between Chinese fries and home cooking is that they are cooked in hot oil and in a wok. The battered potatoes are quickly put through the oil, and the candy is quickly heated in a large wok and tossed with the potatoes. The candy is coated with the oil from frying the potatoes, so it has a high coating power and does not lose the heat and crunchiness inside.

Potatoes 770 yen. They harden quickly, so you should dip them in the optional water the moment they arrive!

They are so hard that you can hear a “kon-kon” sound when you tap them with chopsticks. However, if you bite into it, steam overflows from the inside, and the meat (or is it?) is sweet and fluffy. The meat (or is it?) is sweet and warm. By the way, Mr. Yamamoto is a cool guy, but when I told him that an employee of 551 Hourai said it was delicious, he got slightly excited and said, “Really? He was slightly excited.

It looks simple, but the technique to heat the candy so that it does not burn is very important.

Chinese pork cutlet served on top of a bowl of rice with plenty of red bean paste

And then there was the most important part, the katsudon. The visual overturns the conventional concept of katsudon! It is covered with a rich red bean paste, just like Tenshin rice. The sauce is made of soy sauce, mirin, garlic, and other ingredients, mixed with chicken broth, and thickened with potato starch. An egg is also added, but it is beaten and added to the bean paste. There is no longer any intention of “topping” the sauce.

The pork cutlet is called uchi hira, which is a leaner part of the thigh. It is cut into bite-sized pieces.

I realized that “Chinese pork cutlet bowl” is completely different from the “pork cutlet bowl” we know. The bean paste has a distinctly Chinese flavor, with a chicken broth that is not a Japanese soup stock, but rather a chicken stock flavor. The condiments are also very tasty, and the raayu (Chinese chili oil) goes better with it than the shichimi (seven spice red pepper).

Katsu-don is 710 yen, and the fries are still more expensive.

When I asked, “How long has the pork cutlet bowl been in your restaurant? When I asked, he said, “Probably since the second generation. …… To be honest, neither Mr. Yamamoto nor any of the other staff know the history of the restaurant. If anyone knows anything to the contrary, please let me know,” Mr. Yamamoto said. Dear readers, I would like to ask you as well.

This has nothing to do with Chinese fries or katsudon (pork cutlet bowl), but it is the restaurant’s best dish, shrimp mayo for 880 yen. The restaurant uses gin as a secret ingredient to give it depth.
Mr. Yamamoto. I wonder what kind of life you must lead in order to be asked to be the owner of a Chinese restaurant. It would never happen to me. A bag of 551 is casually placed on the counter! It’s like they are in love with each other.

To “Kai Yuan Lou” for Another “Potato” and “Katsu-don” (pork cutlet bowl)

I enjoyed “Ryu” but could not find much detailed information about it, so I went to “Kaiyuanro” to at least try another Chinese restaurant that serves katsudon (pork cutlet bowl). This restaurant serves both katsudon (pork cutlet bowl) and Chinese fries, which is rare even in Osaka.

It is located in Higashi-tenma, a short walk from any station. It seems to be a restaurant for locals, and there were a few men drinking beer and eating set menus like Shokado bento alone at night. I stole a look and saw that it was a treasure chest filled with sweet-and-sour pork, fried chicken, shrimp tempura, shaomai, rice, and salad. For 1,000 yen for this, I’d rather eat that than a bowl of katsudon too.

Lunch for 800 yen is also quite a lot of food, and is famous in the area as a big bowl of Chinese food!

When I ordered “katsudon, takaimo and a bottle of beer” from the waiter, he looked at me and said, “Really? I got a look of “Really? A middle-aged woman who didn’t seem to have much money ordered over 2,000 yen for a single item, not even a set meal. Even if I were a waitress, I would be suspicious of this person and wonder what her purpose was.

The fact that a bowl of pork cutlet served on top of a bowl of rice and a large sweet potato cost the same price of 850 yen is also a mystery to me. I guess it takes a lot of time and effort to make a bowl of pork cutlet and a bowl of takaimo.

The takaimo is softer than the “Ryu” and is not soaked in water or poked with chopsticks. They are slightly smaller and the candy is thinner, so the texture is more crispy than crunchy. However, it is also finished in a wok, so it is sweet and flaky inside. These Chinese fries are also friendly to the elderly, as there is no need to worry about removing a tooth.

They are coated with candy, but not hard as a stone.

The katsudon, on the other hand, is a large bowl of rice topped with an overflowing cutlet and bean paste, and the rice is quite heavy as well. The cutlet is big and thick, and the batter is well seasoned, so it is very satisfying.

It also has an egg in it, but it is still assimilated with the red bean paste.

The bean paste is also soy sauce flavored with a chicken stock base. It is filled with bean sprouts, onions, and leeks, and the flavor of the vegetables stands out. The pork cutlet has a strong flavor, but the bean paste is light, so the balance is just right.

The pork cutlet is fried in lard, so the cutlet is fragrant! The pork itself was delicious!

I was told that this pork cutlet bowl was invented by the previous owner, and the recipe has been carefully passed down from generation to generation. I had given up trying to listen to him because I could only hear Chinese from the kitchen, but the Japanese woman at the hall kindly helped me. But the details are unknown. ……

It turns out that it is different from ‶Chinese Katsu-don‶ in Tokyo.

I think I see more Chinese fries and Chinese katsudon in “Gachi-Chuka” than in “Machi-Chuka”!

Some gourmet bloggers have paid attention to Chinese katsudon, but in the end, the “roots of Chinese katsudon” have not been clarified. One thing I was surprised to hear from a gourmet writer in Tokyo, however, is that “there are katsudon in Chinese restaurants in Tokyo, but you don’t see many with red bean paste.

He said that in Tokyo, so-called “machi-chuka” restaurants, such as those that serve Chinese soba noodles and omu-rice, have katsudon in the orthodox egg-and-boiled rice style. So it is different from Osaka’s Chinese katsudon.

How did Osaka’s Chinese katsudon come about and why is it different from Tokyo’s machinuka katsudon? The mystery only deepens. …… I will do more serious research to find out soon. Sorry for making the ending sound like a documentary on the Tokugawa buried treasure.

  • Interview, text, and photographs Shigeru Nekota

    Born in 1979. Worked as an editor and writer for town magazines, travel books, and recipe books. Currently, as a web writer, he writes on a wide range of topics from decadence to traditional crafts. He loves to drink despite his weakness, and his life motto is "Sake is best drunk while walking.

    Shigeru Nekota's food blog "I love quirky restaurants!

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