Sometimes when you’re rushing your itinerary on your trips, you simply have no time to settle down for dining in fancy restaurants. However, that is not a reason to compromise on good food in Osaka, a food haven. Here is a list of delicious food in Osaka for the busy traveller who needs his grab-and-go.
1. Takoyaki, the Soul Food of Osaka
Takoyaki is made of a wheat flour based batter filled with cut up octopus, pickled ginger and green onion. Authentic Osaka takoyaki’s key point is in the dough, which is flavoured with dashi soup. Typically, takoyaki is topped with dried bonito flakes, a douse of mayonnaise and takoyaki sauce, but locals in Osaka prefer their takoyaki lightly salted, which is said to help bring out the taste of the ingredients. Originated from Osaka, there are more than 650 takoyaki stores in the prefecture, each with a subtle difference in taste, never getting boring for foodies!
2. Okonomiyaki, the Japanese Pizza
Okonomiyaki, literally meaning fried to your liking, is basically fried pancakes. Also originating in Osaka, Okonomiyaki has a similar base batter to takoyaki, but you cook it on a griddle like a pancake, adding meat, fish and shredded cabbage. Top it with mouth-watering mayonnaise and sauce, Osaka’s thick and fluffy okonomiyaki is sure to leave you wanting for more. Of course, just like its name, there is a variety of ingredients you can choose from, be it from the type of meat and vegetables, to the type of sauce, and even the type of batter. Search around Osaka for the okonomiyaki that best fits your taste. If you can’t really cook an okonomiyaki yourself, just ask any of the staff around to help you. Watching the staff of the restaurant cook on the griddle in front of you is entertaining as well, if you find an open counter seat in front of the griddle, go for it!
3. Negiyaki, the healthier okonomiyaki
Negiyaki is a healthier alternative to Okonomiyaki. Instead of the usual cabbage, pork or seafood, Negiyaki is a thin batter with loads of spring onion on top. It is eaten with soy sauce instead of Okonomiyaki sauce, and thus has a lighter and healthier flavour. Many residing in the Kansai region enjoy food made of flour, hence making Negiyaki and Okonomiyaki local favourites.
4. Kushikatsu, heaven on a stick
Another dish that is a large part of Osaka’s local identity, kushikatsu is deep-fried meat or vegetables skewers. Also known as kushiage, every stick is coated with batter and deep-fried to an irresistible golden brown. Add to that some light soy sauce and an ice cool beer, it is simply heaven on earth, especially popular after a day of hard work.
5. Horumonyaki - every part of the pig or cow
Horumonyaki is food that is a little bit unique. Perhaps some people might have some aversion to it, but for those who do not mind, the taste is rewarding. Horumonyaki is a Japanese cuisine made from beef or pork offal. Usually grilled, it will certainly be an interesting experience for those who want to try something new.
6. Otoro Sushi, melting goodness
If you ever find yourself at the Osaka Central Fish Market, you must definitely try Otoro sushi, which is a fatty tuna belly sushi. Perhaps a little pricey, but all thoughts of its price will crumble as the fatty tuna melts away in your mouth.
7. Minced Cutlet at Isami, a farm and eatery in one place
Isami farm is a farm in Osaka that sells both its produce and a set of delicacies from these fresh products. These include the beloved croquette and minced cutlet. Selling at 100 JPY (1 USD) per cutlet (with additional tax), the official site literally apologies for its minced cutlets being too tasty.
Isami Farm in Osaka
Address: 4 -17-2 Hayashiji, Ikuno Ward, Osaka-city, Osaka Prefecture
Opening Hours: 9.30am to 6:30pm, closed on Sundays and Public Holidays
Contact: +81 6-6719-5538
8. Doteyaki, beef lovers alert!
Doteyaki, or stewed beef sinew, is stewed using miso, sweet sake and sugar. You can find this dish commonly in Yakiniku or Izakaya. Given the strong flavours, you can imagine why it may be popular as a companion to beers or other alcoholic drinks. You can even get this dish at supermarkets or meat shops.
9. Ikayaki, a taste worth queuing for
Although seemingly a simple dish of Squid Okonomiyaki, this is a delicacy that locals are willing to embrace the queue for. The queue is usually fast, so you don’t usually have to be in line for longer than expected. Aside from its low cost, another thing to look forward to is the “Deluxe” version, in which an egg is added into the flour mix for a more fragrant taste.
10. Yakitori, THE Izakaya food to have
Japanese pubs, or Izakaya, offer a wide variety of light snacks that go with drinks. Yakitori, or grilled chicken, is one of the all-time favourites on such lists. Izakaya restaurants usually offer a wide range of skewered chicken or pork. Yakitori can come in forms of chicken meat on skewers or chicken balls.
Food from 551Horai is a must for Osaka souvenirs. Butama (or meat bun) from 551Horai is famous, and the original store is at Nanba, Osaka. Conveniently, it is at the JR Shin-Osaka Station. Each bun is handmade and you can get one hot out of the steamers. Another recommendation on the menu will be Shumai, or pork dumplings. The good news is, 551 Horai is open everyday.
Address: JR Shin-Osaka Station 3F
Opening Hours: 9am to 9.30pm.
Access: Within JR Shin-Osaka Station
12. Waffles, take a break, grab a waffle
Plenty of flavours to choose from, MAISON de gigi is the place to go for Waffles in Osaka. Apple & Cinnamon, Mixed Berries, Chocolate, Banana and Strawberry, choose whichever flavour you like, eat enough for a main meal, or takeaway and eat it as you continue to tour around the streets of Osaka.
13. Parfaits, beautiful desserts
Parfaits in Japan are generally large and extremely pretty in their brightly coloured fruity goodness. In Urban Research Cafe within Horie Tachibana (Orange Street) is a cafe that offers such pretty parfaits and aromatic drip coffees. The wooden furnishings give a nice ambience for a place to chill out and relax, perfect for a short break in our quest to thoroughly explore Osaka.
14. Mitarashi Dango - sweet skewered dough balls
Mitarashi dango is a type of dango skewered onto sticks and covered with a sweet soy sauce glaze. In stores where customer flow is high, the high turnover of the dangos ensures the fragrance of the dango as they are constantly freshly grilled.
15. Taiko-Manju, drumroll please~!
Taiko-maju is a Japanese baked sweet commonly found at Japanese festivals. Made of batter and filled with azuki bean paste, this food is extremely popular in Japan. As the delicacy develops, many variations are born including vanilla custard, fruit preserves, curry or even meat fillings. ‘Taiko’ means drum in Japanese, which may explain the shape of this dessert.
16. Baby Octopus, Tako with a hidden surprise
Baby tako is one of the most iconic Japanese foods. It is a small, bite-sized and crunchy food on a stick. These small tako also enclose a quail egg in their heads, adding to the savoury experience.
17. Torikara Stick, popular chicken snack
Toritaka is crumbed and fried chicken breast. You get to choose and customise your salt and sauce (curry sauce, rock salt, lemon juice, sweet chill sauce etc.) and ta-da! If you want to practise eating while you walk around the city, this is a good snack to start with!
18. Kappo, Osaka's culinary glory
Like how Kyoto has kaiseki, Osaka takes pride in cutting and cooking, which makes up the word kappo. An open kitchen with counter bar seats, kappo focuses on the relationship between the chefs and the customer built on interaction, and on the cutting and cooking rather than the fusion of art and cooking of Kyoto’s kaiseki. Enjoy Osaka’s casual dining experience as the chefs carefully and diligently presents to you the season’s highlights.
19. Patit Tai, a Western-style Taiyaki
Taiyaki is a fish-shaped cake often stuffed with red bean paste. Pati Tai is a cute 5cm (2 inches) petite version of this Japanese snack in Western style. As you bite into the cake, you can taste the cream within. Flavours include custard, red bean, caramel, chocolate and more.
20. Oden, the ultimate stomach-warmer
Oden is a Japanese dish consisting of many ingredients such as boiled eggs, daikon, and processed fishcake stews in a light, soy-flavoured dashi broth. It is one of the most common and popular comfort food for winter in Japan. On a cold day, biting on a daikon soaked in the hot broth is simply indescribable bliss (Yes, try it!). In Osaka, you may even find meat in the assortment of ingredients. This is a dish that locals are incredibly fond of.
All set for Osaka!
Now that you have your list of on-the-go food ready, you’re all set to embark on your Osaka trip. Make sure to take loads of photos of your food, because in Osaka, the food is not just of unforgettable taste but visually appealing as well. Bon voyage, and more importantly, bon appetit!
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