San Francisco carries a reputation for culinary excellence, but this journalist found an equal, if not superior foodie culture in Osaka, Japan’s second-largest city.
Osaka, like San Francisco, considers itself a food town. Both are port cities open to culinary crosscurrents from all over the world. Both have a large working population who eat out all the time, and both are strongest in mid-priced restaurants and street food.
When I got back to San Francisco, I missed the civility of Osaka, the efficiency of the train system, the impeccable service in hotels and department stores, and the safety of the streets. At home, food suddently tasted too sweet, salty and sour. I realized that I had been eating a mid-range palate of flavors with very little oil and fat, and drinking a wine, sake, whose highest attributes are balance, smoothness and a delicate aroma evocative of pure water. In comparison, Western food and drink felt like a sensual assault.