Tokyo’s restaurants may have more Michelin stars, but for many Japanese foodies, the real culinary action is in Osaka. Particularly if your tastes run more towards good honest grub than haute cuisine, Japan’s second largest city is the place to be.
The people of Osaka enjoy a good meal so much that they coined the phrase kuidaore, to eat until you collapse. But even with this image firmly entrenched in our minds, the city has found a new way to surprise us with its gastronomic decadence.
On a recent day out in Osaka, our reporter stopped by a café and ordered a truly hard-core parfait. It wasn’t that the parfait was so big, and no, it didn’t contain any shocking ingredients. What blew our minds about this parfait was its topping.
It was a slice of cake, and it was so big it wasn’t even trying to fit into the glass.
Our reporter had this sweet-tasting tag-team at the Semba branch of Osaka-based café MIOR. That’s MIOR, all in capitals letters according to their website. Really, did you expect anything less from a coffee shop bold enough to offer something like this?
▼MIOR’s Semba branch
At first MIOR looks like any other ordinary café. But a close look at its display case of plastic food models reveals this.
▼Oh, hi there. Didn’t see you come in.
Despite having a slice of cake atop it like some haughty king sitting on his sticky, sugary throne, MIOR sticks the model for its “Shortcake New York Cut Parfait” in the back corner of the display case, behind such mundane offerings as Coke in a bottle. They act like it’s not even a thing. It’s like they’re saying, “Oh yeah, cake parfaits? Of course we have those.”
A lot of restaurants try to lure customers in by showing models that are bigger than the actual serving size. Not MIOR, though. Their display case is a shining example of truth in advertising.
▼The 1,030 yen (US$10.50) Shortcake New York Cut Parfait
The slice of cake is so disproportionally large that it looks ready to burrow itself into the ice cream beneath. But like a tiger cradling its cub in its mighty jaws, despite the shortcake’s intimidating appearance, its flavor is one of tender delicacy, with the richness of the whipped cream blending harmoniously with the refreshing strawberries.
The bottom of the parfait is composed of a generous serving of ice cream with a berry sauce. As if there wasn’t enough extravagance already crammed into the glass, it also contains slices of peach and pineapple mixed with even more whipped cream.
It turns out that eating the parfait is a labor of love. Of course we want to have our shortcake and eat it too by tasting it together with the ice cream. Our natural instinct was to start from the top and eat our way down, but there’s something you have to watch out for. There’s a lot of ice cream in there, which is a double-edged sword. Eat it too slowly, and the cake will get soggy from the moisture on the surface of the ice cream. The proper approach requires you to keep your eating pace ahead of the speed the ice cream melts at. Cake parfait veterans say they often move the remaining cake to a separate plate after awhile.
And it’s not just shortcake. A variety of MIOR’s cakes can be made into parfait toppings (or should that be the cakes are available with parfait bottoms?) for an additional 450 yen (US$4.60). We still recommend the shortcake if you’re after something that will really fill you up. The green tea cake parfait is also a lot of fun because it lets you harmonize the flavors of the cake, whipped cream, and sweet beans.
Aside from at MIOR’s Senba branch, the Umeda Sanban-cho branch also offers the cake parfaits. Enjoy, but don’t blame us if you collapse afterwards. That’s just how Osaka rolls when it’s time to chow down.
MIOR (Senba branch)
Address: Osaka, Chuo Ward, Minami Kyuhoji-machi, 3-4-14
Open 8:30 a.m.-10 p.m.