In Singapore, almost every estate has a coffee shop (or an eatery) and in Japan, every department store is bound to have a basement food hall which the locals refer to as “depachika” which loosely translates to department basement.
The Japanese basement food halls are sensory overload. Greetings ring out all around; always friendly and inviting. Everywhere you turn, there’s a bento, sashimi, tempura, sweets and more.
There’s no better place to experience a taste of Japan, than at a depachika. It’s the luxurious cousin of the konbini and you’ll find takeouts targeting the office crowd, expensive matcha products and high-end desserts and themed snacks all in one single sprawling basement level.
I was curious to experience the depachika for myself, so during my time in Osaka, both The F Man and I made a trip to the nearby JR Osaka Mitsukoshi Isetan and proceeded to shop for our takeaway meal there.
Took our pick of grilled meat skewers
Ordering was straight forward enough and the both of us smiled cheerily to the staff behind the counter and pointed to what we were keen to take away. She boxed up our choice picks of yakitori nicely for us, placed it into a plastic bag and thank us for purchasing from them.
She didn’t ask if we wanted it heated perhaps because the sticks were already fresh out of the grill, but when we travelled back to Tokyo, we realised when shopping at another depachika, that some staff would ask us if we wanted to have it on the spot and would heat it for us in the microwave (especially the bentos). So we could request for our purchase to be heated if we wanted to eat it there and there.
Katsudon or Pork Cutlet Rice Bowl
While the yakitori packaging didn’t surprise me much, I liked the sturdy disposable bowl the katsudon we ordered came in. And boy was everything placed nicely into the bowl. The rice is immaculately scooped and patted in, the katsu and egg mixture not the least bit messy as well sat atop the rice bowl. I hate to say this, but I’ve seen less immaculate presentations from Japanese restaurants in Singapore that charge $20 a pop for a katsudon! Everything is indeed different in the land of the rising sun.
I visited quite a few depachika when travelling in Japan and every thing I ordered and ate tasted great! My only regret was not having a sushi set because I found it slightly pricey (for food hall standards). If I ever visit Japan again, I’ll go all out for the sushi!
JR Osaka Mitsukoshi Isetan JR大阪三越伊勢丹
530-8558 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka 3-1-3