Osaka: The foodie’s capital of Japan

Osaka: The foodie’s capital of Japan

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Of all the many things that Osaka can be proud of, it is perhaps the culinary scene that stands out above all else. At the time of writing, the city boasts a, quite frankly, ridiculous 203 Michelin starred restaurants, however, it’s the street food culture which makes it truly unique.

In this article, we will introduce three local foods that are simply integral to any trip to Osaka and suggest some great places to try them. We’ll also look at a few great options for other Japanese foods before suggesting a couple of walking tours, led by local experts that ensure you ‘Kuidaore’, a local phrase meaning eat until you drop!

Takoyaki

The food most synonymous with Osaka, Takoyaki has been an Osaka staple pretty much ever since its invention here in 1935 by a street vendor by the name of Tomekichi Endo.

Takoyaki are small balls of batter filled with pieces of octopus, ginger and spring onion, topped with a special takoyaki sauce and mayonnaise. Takoyaki is prepared in a specifically molded pan and although restaurants exist, it is most commonly purchased from street vendors. If you’ve ever tried to make it yourself, you’ll soon realize that the ease with which street vendors effortlessly flip the takoyaki to ensure they’re evenly cooked is a skill that has taken time and perseverance to perfect.

Osaka: The foodie’s capital of Japan
Osaka: The foodie’s capital of Japan
Osaka: The foodie’s capital of Japan

If you’ve never tried to make takoyaki yourself, what better place to learn than the city which invented it! Recently launched, this takoyaki cooking class is a cheap and fun experience for all of the family. Participants can create classic takoyaki or choose their own ingredients from a set list allowing them to create some truly unique concoctions, which they can later enjoy (once they’ve cooled down of course).

Osaka: The foodie’s capital of Japan
Osaka: The foodie’s capital of Japan

<LOCATION>
1-5-31 Kaigandori, Minato-ku, Osaka, 552-0022

Where to try?

Takoyaki street vendors can be found in almost any part of Osaka as it’s a dish loved by locals as much as it is by visitors. The central, downtown neighborhood of Dotonbori has a plethora of takoyaki options to choose from, so taking part in a walking tour of the area, with a local expert, could be just the ticket if you’re curious about the subtle differences between vendors.

If we were to choose a single restaurant to visit for the most authentic experience possible, we’d be hard-pressed to recommend anything other than the store where Tomekichi Endo first introduced the delicacy to the world, Aizuya in Nishinari.

Osaka: The foodie’s capital of Japan

One thing immediately noticeable about Aizuya’s dishes is that their takoyaki does not come drenched in sauce and mayonnaise, this rumored to be because the restaurant is so confident that the flavor of their menu on its own is so good, that it simply doesn’t need it.

Although easily accessible by public transport, Nishinari is a neighborhood is a short distance away from the city’s more touristy neighborhoods such as Namba and Shinsaibashi, but what it lacks in proximity to those, it more than makes up for in character and authenticity.

Fortunately, there is a walking tour available, which stops at Aizuya for lunch. We simply can’t recommend it highly enough for anyone wishing to get a real sense of Osaka’s character and past.

<LOCATION>
2-3-1 Tamadenishi, Nishinari-ku, Osaka, 557-0045

Other restaurants that are also definitely worth trying include:

Takoyaki Wanaka
<LOCATION>
1 Chome-6-7 Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0086>

Takoyaki Kogaryu
<LOCATION>
2-18-4 Nishishinsaibashi, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0086

Takoyaki Yamachan
<LOCATION>
1-2-34 Abenosuji, Abeno Ward, Osaka, 545-0052

Kushikatsu

Another food which is said to originate from Osaka, specifically the Shinseikai neighborhood, is kushikatsu, various food, skewered on thin wooden sticks, which are then deep-fried and dipped in a special sauce just before eating.

Like tempura, kushikatsu restaurants will always offer a wide range of types to choose from, including vegetables, quail eggs, various meats, and cheeses. We recommend trying a whole range of skewers to make sure you find your favorite one!

Osaka: The foodie’s capital of Japan

Whereas some foods in this guide are meant to be taken away and enjoyed, kushikatsu is almost exclusively eaten in restaurants. This is because the sauce which customers dip their skewers into is normally shared amongst a whole table, which brings us to the golden rule of kushikatsu, never take a bite before dipping and only dip your skewers once!

Where to try?

One of the most popular kushikatsu chains in Osaka, one we highly recommend is Kushikatsu Daruma. The chain has 13 restaurants in Osaka, including locations in and around Dotonbori. At the front of each store, you’ll find a popular and often photographed angry mascot statue, the reason for the expression on his face? Someone double-dipped of course!

<LOCATION>
1-6-4 Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0071

Okonomiyaki

Often referred to as Osaka soul food, okonomiyaki is a savory pancake made up of batter, shredded yam, and shredded cabbage which, like takoyaki, is then covered with a special Worcestershire-like sauce and mayonnaise.

Osaka: The foodie’s capital of Japan

Okonomiyaki is a delicacy that can be enjoyed within a restaurant, or purchased from any number of street vendors in Osaka. If you choose to enjoy in a restaurant, there’s a good chance that your table will include a hot plate in the middle of it, where the restaurant’s staff will prepare and cook your meal right in front of you.

Where to try?

For the most fulfilling okonomiyaki experience possible, we firmly believe that you really have to try and make it yourself, which is exactly what you can do at Osaka’s Botejyu . Established in 1953, Botenjyu offers a wide range of Okonomiyaki options to ensure that each customer can make it to their specific tastes.

With the main store located in Namba, Botejyu is conveniently placed in the heart of Osaka’s downtown area.

<LOCATION>
3-7-20 Nanba, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0076

Other options

Now that we’ve covered the three foods most synonymously linked with Osaka’s, we’ve got a couple of recommendations for once you’ve tried all of those!

Ura Tenma : Chochindori street

Located near Osaka station, Tenma is a neighborhood that includes a network of backstreets and alleyways containing some of the city’s best Izakayas (Japanese Bars) and hidden restaurants. Chochindori Street, an area illuminated by hundreds of ‘chochin’ lanterns is the heart of the Ura Tenma neighborhood and has become a popular photo spot.

Osaka: The foodie’s capital of Japan

The Deep Food Tour and Bar Hopping in Temma is perfect for anyone who is keen to explore this area and sample its delicacies, such as yakitori (grilled skewered meat), sushi, sashimi (raw fish), yakiniku (grilled meat) and udon.

Osaka: The foodie’s capital of Japan
Osaka: The foodie’s capital of Japan
Osaka: The foodie’s capital of Japan

<LOCATION>
Tenjinbashi, Kita Ward, Osaka, 532-0011, Japan

Kinryu Ramen

Although not as ingrained into Osaka as the three foods mentioned above, the city boasts some of the finest ramen restaurants in all of Japan. One chain that we’re particularly fond of is ‘Kinryu Ramen’, unmistakable due to the huge dragon sculptures which climb their stores.

Osaka: The foodie’s capital of Japan
Osaka: The foodie’s capital of Japan

<LOCATION>
1-7-26 Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0071

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