OSAKA – You could easily pass a whole day as a flaneur in Osaka’s Tenjibashi-suji Shotengai, the longest shopping arcade in Japan. Unlike its southern counterpart, Shinsaibashi-suji, there is still room to breathe in Tenjinbashi-suji and it’s not (yet) full of tourist-traps masquerading as historical shops.
Recently opened in the arcade is Taiwan Tanpao, a chain that specializes in shōronpō, dumplings filled with meat and soup. The new shop is small, and you’d pass it by were it not for the bamboo steamers placed prominently outside, filled with fresh dumplings. Just past the steamers there’s a few seats and tables thrown together; it feels like it’s been assembled from a DIY store in about 10 minutes.
Inside, it’s a one-stop shop: It’s shōronpō or bust. But even with such a limited menu there is much to enjoy. In fact it’s easy enough to get though the entire menu in one sitting, provided you have some company to help you work through it.
The dumplings come in sets of five or six. The gyūniku shōronpō, made from beef, stands out from the pack: their deep black skins housing the well-simmered juices alongside a helping of mince meat. The house specialities are worthy runners-up. The only letdown was the crab dumpling, which had the flavor of crab but little substance beside.
Despite this, the restaurant comes recommended. For a cheap and flavorful fix of shōronpō, put Taiwan Tanpao on your map.
Dumpling sets from ¥380; English menu; English spoken
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5