Many first time visitors to Osaka make a beeline north of Namba to the glitzy Dotonbori restaurant and entertainment district. Famous for its larger than life sculptures and the neon signs that shout in your face, it is easy to forget there is another part of Osaka.
If you head south of Namba, you will find Namba Parks, the quiet counterpoint to Dotonbori. There is little in signage, with its subtle hues and curved stone exteriors that look like some of the more contemporary districts in Barcelona or Brussels. It is a place more noted for subtlety than bright, shiny whistles, frequented by sophisticated Osaka-ites in their thirties, rather than tourists from other parts of Japan and the rest of the world.
In 2009 Namba Parks was named a winner in the Urban Land Institute's Awards of Excellence. As the southern gateway to Namba, the rooftop park redefined the blending of green space, commercial and lifestyle areas. Designed by the Jerde Partnership, their signature is evident in the DNA of Canal City in Fukuoka and Roppongi Hills in Tokyo.
Namba Parks wasn't always like this. Originally the site of Osaka Baseball Park, it was reincarnated to a multi-purpose space while its rooftop gardens and lawns pays tribute to its former life.
On the sixth floor is their casual eat street, with restaurants specialising Chinese, French, Italian, Korean and Japanese cuisine, which pretty much sums up the most popular choices in Osaka.
Shukaskusai, whose name can be translated as Harvest Festival, are known for their bread buffet, with the waiters serving piping hot bread fresh from the oven every ten minutes or so. The braided bread was warm, tasty and had an alluring glaze, and they also have apple, garlic, basil bread. You can see a small queue whenever the fresh bread is brought out.
The restaurant's philosophy is to surround the dining table with joy. This is a fun place for the young and old, reminding me of its "something for everybody" appeal that many family restaurants like Gusto are known for. All that is lacking for the children are the toys at the counter for sale and private rooms for families who want their kids to run around.
A value pick would be to pick their dinner set, with roast or grilled chicken a speciality, along with a salad and soup. The bread buffet and a delicious choice of light desserts are also available as an add on for a small price.