In 1993, George Costanza, the fictional character on Seinfeld, brought to the masses the risks and dangers of “double-dipping”. No one has ever looked at a bowl of salsa the same way. Eating Kushikatsu Osaka and no double dipping in Osaka.
But, it appears the original harbinger of double-dipping can be traced to 1929 in Osaka, Japan. A 12-seat restaurant was born in the Shinsekai neighborhood of Osaka, serving kushikatsu. Momono Yoshie perfected the art of deep frying all sorts of foods on a stick. And she was strong proponent of no double-dipping of her famous and of course secret sauce. The restaurant is known as Kushikatsu Daruma.
I stood in the shadow of Tsūtenkaku Tower, 300 foot plus well-known landmark in Osaka. This silvery tower advertises the Hitachi band in bold characters, both in Japanese and English, racing down its sides. The tower hosts an observation deck and a cheesy and geeky showroom all that is good about Japan.
At the base, stands the original Kushikatsu Daruma, usually with a line of hangry customers. I slipped in during a brief lull with only a several minute wait. I entered the cramped restaurant with more of an old school diner feel. A counter wrapped around the open-air kitchen, bustling with cooks and servers.
I nestled into my seat on the corner squeezed in with locals on both sides. I grabbed the menu, thankfully one version in English, so I could get a lay of the land. Kushikatsu takes a wide range of foods, which are skewered, from cheese to asparagus to fish, battering them in breadcrumbs, and then deep frying them in a savory oil with sweet and sour sauce. Kushikatsu literally translates to skewers (kushi) and deep-fried cutlet (katsu).
Being a very strange and picky eater, I was relieved to see many food options that fit into my limited palette. I scanned the menu and hastily overlooked the chicken gizzard, tongue, shrimp, and oysters. I contently settled on asparagus, potato, eggplant, and lotus root. I then note a cheese skewer. You cant go wrong with fried cheese. The skewers range in cost from 120 to 240 Yen, about $1.20 to $2.40.
As I mentioned previously, double-dipping is highly discouraged. In fact, Kushikatsu Daruma provides a graphic explaining the decorum a diner should follow. A silver tin sits at each table setting brimming with a thin, brownish dipping sauce. I was also provided with a plate of cabbage. The cabbage is utilized for secondary dippings, acting as a spoon to scoop the sauce.
A smiling waitress clad in a black cap with white Japanese lettering took my order.
Minutes later, the cook reached over and passed over my meal, explaining what each deep-fried treat was. Following the rules, I dipped my first cheese kushikatsu in the secret sauce and gobbled it down, washing it down with a cold Coke.
Getting ready for some more cheese kushikatsu.
I finished my meal and happily placed a second order. I left a satisfied customer.