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Dotonbori Canal

Osaka Food: Famous Must Try Dishes in Osaka

by Tsvete Popp

“Let’s try something new!” – this is the right motto when arriving in Osaka! There is no coincidence that Osaka is known as the food capital of Japan and one of the ultimate food destinations in Asia. The city of Osaka smells delicious. Osakans love to cook, and even more to eat. The streets of Osaka are pitfalls for any passionate food lovers out there, searching for exceptional food and traditional Japanese specialities.

 

Japan is a food loving country with intense culinary culture and Osaka is the cherry on the top! Osakans are obsessed with eating and they even have a word for the outcome of this obsession called “kuidaore”. “Osaka no kuidaore” literally translated means the habit of eating till you drop, but the actual meaning is eating till falling into debt. 

 

In this blog post, I’m going to share with you 6 must-eat-foods in Osaka and the places where you can try them. The biggest food areas in Osaka are Dotonbori, Umeda and Shinsekai, and believe me – a whole life won’t be enough to go through all the restaurants and street food stalls in Osaka!

Where to Stay in Osaka

As you would expect from a major Japanese city, Osaka has no shortage of options when it comes to accommodation. As always, I’d suggest you stay somewhere central, to make accessing all the attractions as easy as possible.

The best places to stay in Osaka are Namba and Umeda. However, my suggestion would be to stay near Namba Station. from Namba station it is an easy 5-minute walk to Dotonbori Arcade, plenty of shops, cafes, restaurants and street food options.


 

You can find alternative hotels in Dotonbori here.

You can find apartments in Osaka here (Airbnb + up to 41 € off).

Read more reviews and compare Osaka hotel prices here.

 

Osaka Skyline



Booking.com

Takoyaki

 

The King and the most classic of all Osaka’s snacks is the Takoyaki (translated to “octopus balls”). Takoyaki are little fried balls stuffed with octopus, ginger, green onions, and topped with spicy sauce, mayonnaise, seaweed and katsuobushi (smoked tuna) flakes. Takoyaki are made in a special pan with hollows for each dumpling. Sometimes the octopus is replaced by shrimp or cheese.

 

Takoyaki is said to have been invented in Dotonbori in the place called Aizuya – a Michelin-recommended snack bar founded in 1933. In the 30’s and during the wartime, Japan was struggling for food and at the same time the Seto Inland Sea was full of octopus. Many great ideas were born out of struggle – so the idea of Takoyaki!


 

There are hundreds of street stalls selling Takoyaki everywhere in Osaka. Anyway, the most famous store is in the Dotonbori Kukuru Konamon Museum, which is easily recognized by the giant red Octopus on the top of the restaurant, so it is really hard to miss.

 

Takoyaki Osaka

Takoyaki, Oktopus-Balls

 

Where to eat Takoyaki in Osaka?

 

Kukuru Konamon: Probably the most famous of all places to eat Takoyaki is Kukuru in Konamon Museum. The store is just a 3-minute walk from Namba station. There is no way you will miss it as you will see a giant octopus on the store front and some dozens of people waiting for the famous Takoyaki.

 

Wanaka: Another great place to enjoy some traditional Takoyaki is Wanaka Restaurant, just in 5-minute walk from Namba station. Wakanaka is famous for its always freshly made authentic octopus-balls.


 

Otako: This is a place famous for its big octopus pieces and was even mentioned in the Michelin’s Osaka Food Guide. Otako is just a 15-minute walk from Nihonbashi station and is the place where locals go and eat Tokoyaki.

 

Dotonbori Street Food Osaka

Dotonbori Street Food

Dotonbori Street Food Osaka

Okonomiyaki

 

My personal favourite of all the dishes I tried is the Okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is the real Osakan food – it is cheap, simple and delicious!

 

Okonomiyaki is a pancake made from eggs, flour, yam, shredded cabbage and savory toppings. These are the basic ingredients but most of the restaurants add whatever you like: pork, squid, shrimp, cheese, tomato, etc. There is no surprise, Okonomiyaki translated means “whatever you want, grilled”. Just like Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki was born out of  the struggle for food during WWII. People were starving and they were pleased with whenever they had the chance to cook something hot and filling. 


 

Okonomiyaki is one of the most popular foods in Osaka and you will find Okonomiyaki restaurants everywhere! Some of the most famous restaurants for traditional Okonomiyaki restaurants are in Dotonbori and Umeda. 

 

Okonomiyaki Osaka

Okonomiyaki

 

Where to Eat Okonomiyaki in Osaka?

 

Ajinoya:  Ajinoya is restaurant located near the Dotonbori Arcade which is specialized on Okonomiyaki. The restaurant has some fast and friendly service and if you are lucky enough, you probably will wait less than 20 minutes in order to get a table. Like everywhere in Japan, there is a waiting line in front of the best restaurants, Ajioya is no exception. 

 

Negiyaki Yamamoto: Here we tried Okonomiyaki for the very first time and we loved it! Negiyaki Yamamoto is located in Umeda District near HEPFIVE Mall. The place is really nice, very clean and the service was outstanding! The menu was in English too 😀 Basically they have three menu items: negiyaki, okonomiyaki, and fried noodles. Negiyaki is similar to okonomiyaki but is stuffed with green onions. We tried both: Negiyaki and Okonomiyaki and we knew it is not going to be the last time we are ordering these dishes!


 

Ajinoya Restaurant, Osaka

Ajinoya Restaurant


Okonomiyaki, Ajinoya Restaurant,


Okonomiyaki, Ajinoya Restaurant

Okonomiyaki, Ajinoya Restaurant


Okonomiyaki, Ajinoya Restaurant, Osaka

Okonomiyaki, Ajinoya Restaurant


Okonomiyaki, Ajinoya Restaurant, Osaka

Okonomiyaki, Ajinoya Restaurant


Okonomiyaki Osaka

Okonomiyaki


Ajinoya Restaurant, Osaka

Ajinoya Restaurant

 

Kushikatsu

 

This dish is much simpler as it sounds! Kushikatsu is skewer of deep-fried meat or vegetables dipped in sauce. Kushikatsu translated means all kinds of goodies stuck on a stick (“Kushi” = skewer and “katsu” = cutlet) . Typical Kushikatsu ingredients are pork, beef, shrimp, sweet potato, onion, asparagus wrapped in bacon, and shiitake mushrooms. Be aware that double dipping is forbidden! Popular places to eat Kushikatsu in Osaka are Shinsekai and Dotonbori. The most famous restaurants for Kushikatsu in Osaka are the “Daruma”,”Yaekatsu”, “Gojouya”, “Katsu” and “Shiruhisa”.

 

Dotonbori, Osaka

Dotonbori

 

Where to eat  Kushikatsu in Osaka 

 

Kushikatsu Daruma: This place is the most emblematic place where you can find some traditional and delicious Kushikatsu sticks! You can find the restaurants in Shinsekai and Dotonbori districts – just search for the angry-looking cook!

Did you know that ...
Why is the cook of Kushikatsu Daruma so angry? The angry-looking cook with crossed arms warns anybody who is going to double-dip their Kushikatsu! Everyone is using the same sauce, so there is a strict rule against double-dipping!

Karatto: Karatto is a Kushikatsu restaurant located in a few minute walk from Shinsaibashi station, hidden in the back-street of Shinsaibashi. Karatto restaurant offers some great variety of Kushikatsu and they have a seasonal menu too!

 

Dotonbori Street Food Osaka

Dotonbori Street Food


Dotonbori Street Food Osaka

Dotonbori Street Food


Yakiniku

Japanese people love fish and seafood but grilled Japanese beef and meat is another speciality you don’t want to miss when  in Osaka. The typical Japanese BBQ is grilling small pieces of meat over a charcoal griddle right in the middle of your table. After the meal is ready you have to dip the meat in (spicy) sauce before eating. Actually, this way of grilling meat comes from Korea and the best restaurants for Yakiniku around Osaka are Korean. 

Yakiniku and food in general is not cheap in Japan, but I found Osaka to be more affordable than Kyoto or Tokyo. Especially when you are a meat lover, you have to try the traditional for the region beef.

 

Korean cuisine, Beef barbecue Yakiniku with kimchi

 

Where to eat Yakiniku in Osaka?

 

Ajiyoshi: This is a traditional and 40 years old restaurant located just outside the west gates of Tsuruhashi Station. Here you can enjoy various types of grilled meat served with their special souces. 


 

SEX MACHINE: What a name! The restaurant “SEX MACHINE” is named after the popular American song. In this place you will be able to enjoy high end meat while being entertained by funky music. 

The best coffee we truly enjoyed in Japan was also in Osaka!

Ramen

 

A’h, Ramen! We were eating ramen during the whole trip through Japan. To be honest with you, I’m not the type of person who tries every single crazy dish while travelling, and furthermore – I’m not really willing to. During the first days in Japan I was even kind of anxious about the food. But Ramen always gave me the feeling of knowing what I’m going to get after ordering. And this was a nice feeling 😀 

 

The two major types of Ramen  are Shiromaru (white) and Akamaru (red) as the red one is a little spicier than the other. 


 

Did you know that ...
In Japan, it is absolutely normal to slurp the noodles when eating Ramen. It is said that this brings out the taste of the soup. And if people don’t do it, it means that the Ramen is not good enough. 

 

In Osaka, as well in all other places we visited during our trip, you can find ramen restaurant in every Osaka urban hub, but they’re most numerous in Minami and the Tennoji Area. 

 

Ramen Soup

Ramen Soup

 

Where to eat Ramen in Osaka?

 

Kamukura Dotonbori: As the name already suggests, the restaurant is located in Dotonbori in only 5 min. walk from Namba station. Kamukura Dotonbori is one of the most popular branches of the Osaka’s Ramen chain Kamukura. Here you can enjoy the more traditional flavour of Ramen as they keep their traditional recipe for over 30 years!  


 

Ippudo Namba: Ippudo is another famous Ramen chain in Japan.  The restaurant is located in the center of Osaka and they still cook the Ramen in traditional Hakata-style in pork bone broth.

 

Fugu

 

Fugu is a blowfish famous for being poisonous if prepared by unskilled hands. Well, that’s exactly the kind of dish I’m not really keen to try… But if you are brave enough and if you love raw fish – Fugu could become your favourite dish!  Good to know is that all fugu chefs are specially trained and have a special license for preparing Fugu. 

Osaka Fugu

Where to eat Fugu in Osaka?

 

Shinsekai: The most famous areas for eating Fugu are Shinsekai and Dotonbori.


 

Zuboraya (Dotonbori & Shinsekai): This is  the most famous fugu restaurant in Osaka which is easily recognizable by the large inflated blowfish on the top of the restaurant, so it is really hard to miss. Fugu prices start from around ¥5000. 

 

This is no Fugu but the best Crispy Chicken I have ever had!

 

Kinnotorikara - Torikara Crispy Chicken, Osaka

Kinnotorikara – Torikara Crispy Chicken


Kinnotorikara - Torikara Crispy Chicken, Osaka

Kinnotorikara – Torikara Crispy Chicken

 

How Much Does It Cost To Eat In Osaka?

 

Japan is not the cheapest country when it comes to eating but  Osaka is a place where you can eat very well for cheap. Osaka is significantly cheaper than Tokyo and Kyoto and to be honest – the food here was also better! 


 

You can expect to spend as little as ¥400 per street-food meal and ¥700 for breakfast but if you’re willing to pay around Y900 per meal, you will get some pretty good food! The mid-range food cost something between  ¥1,500 and Y2,000 per meal and you will get some outstanding quality food! A dinner in starred restaurants will will start at ¥6,000 per person. Things mostly depend on where and what you eat. You can get meals at convenience stores like 7/11, Lawsons, and Family Mart for under ¥700 yen. 

 

Kuromon Market, Osaka

Kuromon Market


Kuromon Market, Osaka

Kuromon Market


Kuromon Market, Osaka

Kuromon Market

Kuromon Market, Osaka

Kuromon Market, Osaka

Kuromon Market


Kuromon Market, Osaka

Kuromon Market


Dotonbori Street Food Osaka

Dotonbori Street Food

Japan Accommodation:

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Japan Flights:

If you are flying to Japan it is beneficial to use a flight comparison site to find the cheapest flights. I recommend and use Kiwi.com.  Click here to compare and book cheap flights to Japan.

Rental Car in Japan

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Japan Tours

If you are the type of person who prefers joining a tour, there are all kinds of guided tours around Japan including Mount Fuji.

Enjoy the day!

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