From early December 2017 until the end of January 2018, Dragon Ball has taken over a Chinese restaurant in downtown Osaka, serving up a sizable menu of delightful themed items. I visited at lunchtime on a Saturday, and while the place was reasonably full, there wasn't any sort of a long queue - it seems this is still a relatively well-kept secret, so head over while you can!First, a note about the restaurant itself - I have to say I was surprised at how lovely a location it was. On the 5th floor of the Hilton Plaza West building, across the road from Osaka Station, the view, ambience, and decor were a treat, and a definite step up from your usual pop-up cafe! Tokokuro have also done a stellar job with the food, so you can rest assured that you are getting more than just appearances - be prepared to savour a delicious meal too!
Of course, that is not to say the food was not a sight to behold. We ordered the Shenron spring roll platter to start with, beautifully arranged with carved cucumber pieces and shrimp to mimic dragon scales, scattered with translucent orange jelly dragon balls, and accompanied by a tangy sweet chilli dipping sauce. Yum!
Then came the Four-Star Dragon Ball omelette fried rice, with savoury rice expertly wrapped in a soft omelette and decorated with the four iconic (red pepper) stars. Served with plenty of shrimp and a liberal ladle of tomato gravy!
Krillin's Kuri (chestnut) Buns on the side - a warm, sweet dish, perfect for the transition to dessert. The buns were embellished with the trademark head-spots of the much-loved character, and the logo of their training dojo; but most importantly, they were of the softest, chewiest texture rarely found outside the best dimsum restaurants - what a win!
And for the absolute highlights of the day - dessert. 'Tis the season to be jolly, so we got a Dragon Ball Tree - an exquisite assembly of chocolate leaves, garnished with a sprinkling of preserved fruits, encasing a filling of cream and custard. And on top of it all, a white chocolate Dragon Ball as the crowning glory. Only 100 of these are made per day, so don't miss it!
My personal favourite, however, has to be the Nimbus Cloud Pancake - the fluffiest stack of pancakes topped with cotton candy that Goku himself would be proud to ride on! Paired with the generous portion of chopped oranges in syrup, this was truly a plate to thrill the eyes and delight the tummy.
This is by no means the extent of the menu - many more intriguing items, as well as a well-stocked gift shop, can be checked out on the website (see below). While the food is not exactly cheap, the prices are absolutely reasonable for the quantity and quality you receive!
Apart from the food, I was also fascinated by the many pieces of original artwork decorating the space. Many had been done in traditional Chinese ink, and I appreciated the link that this, along with the cuisine, created between a Japanese popular icon and its roots in the Chinese folktale Journey to the West. Even the restaurant windows were adorned with adorable custom stickers!
I really enjoyed my experience at this Dragon Ball cafe - if you're looking for a unique experience to satisfy your inner geek during your trip to Japan, I cannot recommend this highly enough. For more details, e.g. a closer look at the whole menu, do visit the official website!
Dragon Ball Cafe and Diner Osaka
8 Dec 2017 - 31 Jan 2018
Hours: 11.30am-11pm (numbers handed out from 11am)
Location: Tokokuro Chinese Restaurant, 5th Floor, Hilton Plaza West Building, Umeda, Osaka (click for map)
Reservations: Not required! Just turn up at the restaurant and take a number/join the queue.