1 Chome-3-37 Sonezakishinchi
+81 6 4797 2498
In Osaka, I discovered that Champagne and gyoza made for an excellent pairing. I also learnt that Tinder is a fantastic tool for solo travellers wanting company for a few hours. As much as I love travelling by myself, I do yearn proper human interaction every now and then – and this is where Tinder comes in handy. Swipe right, match, ask if the other is free for a drink and off you go.
My companion for the night was a Canadian-raised Malaysian-Chinese business analyst currently living in Shanghai. The guy, Chris, was in Japan for a work trip and was also on Tinder to meet some drinking buddies. After making pleasant small talk and establishing that the other one was not a weirdo, we decided to meet at Umeda Station after dinner and take it from there. Chris and I walked around the area, neither of us knowing exactly where we were going. Finally, we stumbled across a cute little champagne and gyoza bar on one of the little streets.
Champagne? Gyoza? Um hello, like we’d say no!
The place was called Le Comptoir de, a name which looked incomplete to me at first glance. Then again, my knowledge of French is very limited to words such as ‘canard,’ ‘terrine’ and ‘merde’ so what would I know? Anyway, Google tells me that Le Comptoir de neatly translates to ‘the counter’ and that’s pretty much what this establishment is – one little L-shaped counter topped with Louis Vuitton Damier-esque napkins, half empty bottles of champagne and happy people imbibing late on a Tuesday night.
Owned by quirky Osaka resident and Champagne aficionado Takeaki Motoda, the bar is a sophisticated yet warm and relaxed space for those looking to unwind. For a bar that specialises in Champagne, I was surprised to find the Champagne list very limited (in fact, the nibbles menu was bigger than the drinks list) but I guess this was one of those places that focus on a small number of things well.
Because we got around to ordering our drinks, an old business guy sitting next to us with his 20-something-year-old lady friend quickly started talking to us. Before long, we were talking and laughing like old friends – and he bought our section a bottle of Piper Heidsieck Brut. How lovely of him! I remember the price being something like AUD$85 a bottle, a mark-up that isn’t TOO huge for Asia (bearing in mind that you can get that bottle for AUD$50ish back home).
The food menu covers a neat range of nibbles, from cured meats to olives and of course, gyoza. They weren’t expensive either – we’re talking AUD$5-15 or thereabouts. I wouldn’t have minded some jamon to nibble on but in the end, we decided to split a plate of gyoza.
Takeaki-san’s chef cooked the dumplings in front of us while the drunk businessman gave us young(er) ones some sex advice because, I don’t know, apparently we needed it? Either way, Chris and I were both very amused though I’m not sure the dude’s lady friend was – she kept giving her man dirty looks.
As for the gyoza? They were predictably delicious; they were crispy and virtually oil-free, and the filling was a delicate mix of pork, ginger, cabbage and a hint of garlic. We were also given a variety of sauces to dip the dumplings with (soy, vinegar, garlic, chilli) but I found that I didn’t need the sauces so much – the dumplings were so tasty on their own.
Towards the end of our drinking session, I went to the bathroom and left my ring on the sink there. I only realised it was missing when Chris and I were at our second bar across town and after calling Le Comptoir de and asking if anyone had found a ring (in badly broken Japanese), we were told that it was long gone. However, it’s true what they say about the Japanese – the sleazy old dude’s missus picked it up after we had left, told her man, the man then rang the champagne bar and told Takeaki-san that ‘if the Australian girl calls about her ring, ask for her address’ because the man was going to post it to my house in Queensland himself. Seriously, how lovely was he?
In the end, the man ended up going back to Le Comptoir de at some point during the night with my ring, Takeaki-san then messaged me to say that he had the ring with him and 15 minutes later, I was back at Le Comptoir de clutching the AUD$5 ring I got from a non-descript market stall in Jakarta three years ago. Top marks for kindness and hospitality, I tell you.
And there’s Takeaki-san waving goodbye to us after a fun and eventful night.
If you love Champagne and gyoza (seriously, who doesn’t?), then you will love Le Comptoir de. The space is warm, the workers there are lovely and the customers are a friendly bunch. And even if you’re only so-so about Champagne and gyoza, I’m pretty sure you’ll end up having a great night there regardless.