My guide then took me down a very dimly lit alleyway, with tiny cafes and unassuming, narrow doorways. She led me into a small shop where a husband and wife were making taiyaki, a fish-shaped sandwich with red-bean paste inside. If you’re in a hurry, you can order one on a stick and enjoy it on the go.
Next on our culinary adventure was Kuromon Market, where the first thing I was offered was a miniature octopus skewer, stuffed with a quail’s egg. Interesting to say the least! I was also urged to try momiji tempura, which are deep-fried maple leaves – the type of leaves that are celebrated widely in Japan in the autumn. These were tasty, light and very moreish. After enquiring about the cooking process, I was told that the leaves had not fallen off the trees yesterday; the store pickles them so that customers can have this snack year-round.
Our final stop was Kuromon Ichiba, a food market that serves up some of the freshest fish in Japan. My guide was keen to dispel the myth that the best sushi was always found in Tokyo, so she led me straight to an acclaimed Osaka establishment called Maguroya Kurogin. This is the first shop in the Kansai region to sell Pacific tuna, and as we sat at the bar, we watched it being sliced and served in bright-pink blocks to what seemed like a never-ending queue of eager diners.