This past New Year's Eve we found ourselves in Osaka, one of the "kitchens of Japan." Unfortunately for us, the time around New Year's is a dead zone in Japan: nearly every restaurant is closed for the week-long New Year's holiday. There were some restaurants open, but they were all located inside the major hotels. There was a part of me that wanted to stick to Japanese-only "local" food, but another that was pretty hungry. Having never tried Italian cuisine in Japan, I made a last-minute reservation at the newly opened Italian restaurant at the St. Regis: La Veduta. The dining room was gorgeous: oversized chandeliers illuminating an open kitchen with large windows providing a view over downtown Osaka. Our maitre'd was Piemontese, a pleasant surprise of authenticity being nearly 6,000 miles away from Italy. The menu was prix-fixe which took the stress out of ordering. We ordered a glass of champagne and mentally transported ourselves to Europe.