Osaka may not have much iconic architecture to impress but it does make that up with tremendous array of culinary delights, not just any food but really good Japanese food! Welcome to the gastronomic capital of Japan! The Osakans take pride in their food culture, so much so that there’s a local saying of eating till one drop or Kuidaore (食い倒れ) in Japanese. Osaka is really all about FOOD, FOOD and FOOD!
Hey…isn’t Osaka food loving culture very similar to Singapore where eating is a national hobby? So when two Singaporean ended up in Osaka, our ‘what to do in Osaka itinerary’ is one simple word – EAT!! And so we eat! And eat! Then eat some more Osaka food! Here are the food stuffs which I took some pictures before sinking our teeth to them.
Osakans’ favourite – Takoyaki
More commonly known as octopus balls or fried octopus, Takoyaki has become synonymous with Osaka, simply a must try food here. The fried golden-brown Takoyaki with its combo of minced octopus fillings, mayonnaise, sweet sauce, and dried fish flakes are among the crowd favourites.
Hence, it’s no surprise to find many Takoyaki stalls around Dotonbori so we just spot two stall with the longest queues and join in. Typical Singaporeans lah…queue first then talk. Anyway, the Takoyaki from both stalls are equally good!
The taste of death – Fugu at Zuboraya
Next up is to taste the poisonous Fugu sashimi at Zuboraya (づぼらや). WAIT. Did I mention poison? Yup! The deadly Fugu carries a highly potent neurotoxin which paralyses muscles and can cause people to die from asphyxiation. Sound scary enough?
Before you call me lunatic, Fugu or Puffer fish is actually a popular and expensive local delicacy in Osaka. I read that Fugu chefs must go through years of training before taking the Final certification test – eating the Fugu meals prepared by them.
Though rare, the possibility of death is very real so eat at your own risk! The tiny slice of Fugu did numb my tongue for a little while and the taste is really bland, kinda disappointed but at least I live to tell the tale lol.
Osaka style sushi – Oshizushi
Another Osaka food specialty is the Oshizushi (pressed sushi) or hakozushi (box sushi). In contrast to the commonly seen hand-pressed sushi, the Osaka sushi is made by pressing the toppings and rice using a wooden box called ‘Oshibako’, before cutting the neatly formed sushi block into bite-sized pieces. The added vinegar of this sushi variant may not be appealing to everyone though.
Do note that Oshizushi is usually served in 8 pieces or more, different from the usual 2 pieces per plate. Remember how they are made? Don’t repeat our mistake by mass ordering – the sushi chef gave a weird look before advising us in limited English that the portions will be too much for us…haha
Sushi Galore at Ryugu-tei
Two things of Ryugu-Tei caught our attention; the golden dragon above its door and the signboard indicating amazing price for their sushi – 50 JPY (S$0.65)?! The price alone warrants us to check out the place! So we went in, attacked those sushi plates on the conveyer belt and fill our stomach to the max.
I must say the standard is not up to par with those regular priced sushi elsewhere, it is more of quantity over quality here but I have no complains looking at the final bill though.
King of Japanese Curry – CoCo Ichibanya
CoCo Ichibanya is one popular and successful Japanese Curry chain which has thousands of outlets across Asia and USA. The menu is quite extensive and you can even choose the curry type, spicy level, amount of rice and toppings. This spicy level customization is a nice touch because the normal Japanese Curry ain’t spicy at all to begin with.
The thick curry gravy and the crunchy Tonkatsu are a match in heaven – really good taste!
The Cheapest Osaka Food – Hanamaru Udon
The amazingly low priced Kake Udon (Basic Udon) offered by Hanamaru Udon chain must be one of the most affordable food items in Japan. No wonder the restaurant is so damn crowded, one small bowl of tasty Udon costs only 105 JPY (S$1.30)!! The Udon texture is nice and Q – I like it, my wallet love it even more!
I can never resist a visit to Kimukatsu for its delicious Tonkatsu. The deep-fried Tonkatsu with its reported 25 thin slices of pork loin layered together never disappoint.
Best Ramen in Osaka
There are plenty of highly raved about ramen restaurants in Osaka – if only I can try them all. I only managed to dine at 3 popular ramen restaurants naming Ippudo Ramen, Shi Ten Noh Ramen and Kamukura Ramen.
Ippudo Ramen is one of the most famous ramen chains in Japan serving some of the best tasting Hakata ramen around. Judging by the crowd in the restaurant past dinner hours speak volume about its popularity. We wasted no time and ordered Akamaru ramen and Shiomaru ramen once seated. I particularly like the rich tonkotsu broth of its signature Akamaru ramen, really really good!!
Shi Ten Noh Ramen
Shi Ten Noh Ramen is another popular ramen chain highly recommended from some reviews I read. This ramen chain offers 3 types of broth for their tonkotsu ramen naming Sho-yu (Soy Sauce), Shio (Salt) and Miso. We ate here twice and tried both the Miso and Sho-yu based ramen, the creamy soup and the noodles are delicious. Very satisfying meals indeed!
Kamukura Ramen specializes in Sho-yu (soy sauce) ramen and has rave reviews about it. The soup is clear and tasty but not as thick like those found in miso or tonkotsu, hence it may not to everybody’s liking. Still, the combination of perfectly cooked ramen, juicy slices of chashu and generous amount of crunchy cabbages taste great! It’s also a nice change from the usual richer and heartier soup.
Osaka food at its best
If you are clueless of where to eat or what to eat in Osaka, my suggestion is to take a walk around Shinsaibashi, Namba and Dotonbori. We never fail to stuff ourselves crazy around here, whether the stomach can handle so much food is already out of the question, we just kept eating, there’re just so many Osaka food to try. Itadakimasu!!
Getting here: A five-minute walk from Namba Station to the Dotonbori area.