Kitashinchi is known for its thousands of hole in the wall bars all on top of each other, and prices that are equally sky high, like Osaka’s version of Roppongi. You are here for a short time, so make it good, right? When you wander its labyrinth of lane ways with their tiny business card (meishi) like neon name signs, stacked up 50 at a time on the side of the buildings.
So it is a pleasant surprise to find the Volta Bar moments from the Crowne Plaza Osaka, with a casual un-daunting menu.
There is a selection of Italian, French and Spanish items, from tapas to pizzas and fois gras. England is represented here with Fish and Chips; with Japanese Izakaya selections make an appearance in the form of Edamame (salted beans) and the ubiquitous Kirin and Asahi beer. However, it is bistro style Mediterranean food that it does best.
For appetizers, there is the fresh fish of the day, served carpaccio for ¥ 714, or an assorted carpaccio for 1,344 yen. Alternatively, the organic tomato and mozzarella caprese may take your fancy for ¥ 714. Homemade smoked salmon and avocado tartare makes an appearance (¥ 819), while my partner’s favorite, Caesar salad with boiled egg and ham is a great balance between taste and nutrition (¥ 924). If you are keen to turn the dial on maximum nutrition, why not try the detox salad, with sixteen varieties of vegetables, a snip at ¥ 924. On the other hand, a selection of Jamon Serrano Spanish Ham ¥ 714 or Jamon Iberico Chorizo Coppa ¥ 1,029 will transport you to those late nights dancing in Barcelona.
From the grazing menu, the tapas selection includes Grilled Edamame, pickled seasonal vegetables; Genovese steamed chicken and broccoli, marinated olives and dried tomatoes (all 399 yen each). The lemon marinated shrimp and grilled eggplant takes my fancy, with its fusion of tart and smoky flavors, made glorious by the Mediterranean sun. This is the life, delicious charcoal-grilled seafood with seasonal vegetables.
For something more adventurous, there is always the “Awakening of the Inca” potato salad. Traditionalists may prefer the mousse of foie gras and chicken liver (¥ 504), or if you cannot decide, there is always the assorted tapas platter, in three, six or ten servings, starting from ¥ 714
Taking cues from an American or English pub menu, the Spicy Fried Chicken (¥ 609) or Fish & Chips (¥ 714) is sure to please, while authentic thin crust Italian Pizza is well represented, and whether you like Napoli, Margherita, Marinara, basil shrimp or Four Cheeses or any other mainstream selection, your hunger for cheese and carbohydrates will be satisfied in medium or large sizes. Of course, if you want your own choice of topping, holler to the friendly waiters and they will do their best to check whether the cook can work up a storm.
Pasta lovers are catered for with potato gnocchi gorgonzola (¥ 819), vongole clams and broccoli (¥ 924) or Cream of mushroom pasta with porcini and prosciutto (¥ 1,029).
If your party is calling out for rice, there is always the Paella Pilaf (¥ 819), or the tomato seafood risotto (¥ 924).
Meat lovers can rejoice with grilled meatballs (¥924) Beef or Grilled Wagyu Burger (1,050 yen).
If you have a sweet tooth, your craving will be rewarded with Mango & Coconut Ice Cream, Cream Brulee (both ¥ 504 each), or a parfait at ¥ 714. A perfect way to end (or start) your evening in the nightlife capital of Osaka.