Oana and I ate our weight in delicious food when we were in Japan for two weeks… and a lot of the most memorable turned out to be in Osaka! Supposedly, people in Osaka spend more money on food than anything else and the food culture is described as “kuidaore” (eat ’til you drop). I definitely ate my weight in Osakan cuisine and have been since telling everyone who’s planning a Japan holiday to put Osaka on their list. Three days in Osaka definitely wasn’t enough but we did manage to sample a fair few things…
Takoyaki are grilled doughy balls stuffed with octopus and, oh my gosh, they are amazing. Slather some mayonnaise and dried bonito flakes on top and you have some warm, delicious octopus balls. Takoyaki are sold all over Osaka as street food and in restaurants and are very filling, so you get your money’s worth. We’re starting to see these in Japanese restaurants in England, so if you do spot them on the menu next time you’re eating out, go for them!
Yep, it’s another ‘yaki’. Okonomiyaki is a Japanese-style pancake that’s prepared in front of you on a griddle, where the delicious smells of shredded cabbage, squid, prawn or whatever else the chef throws into the mix. Top it all off with special okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise and dried bonito flakes (noticing a theme here?) and you have a delicious okonomiyaki ready to be cut into with a trowel. The best okonomiyaki is found in Osaka and it’s now my absolute favourite Japanese food.
It’s the ‘yaki’ trio! Teppanyaki literally means ‘grilling on a metal plate’ – and teppanyaki restaurants will sit down diners at an iron griddle where the chef prepares food for them. This can be anything from crispy yaki udon noodles to okonomiyaki to steak to even gristle (hilariously mistranslated as ‘hormone’ on some menus). Teppanyaki restaurants are fun and lively, but watch out for the occasional spit of hot oil!
Kushikatsu is very simply deep fried food on skewers. We generally had meat or veggie kushikatsu but we did see more unusual things like strawberry and even sea urchin on the menu. Kushikatsu is the perfect ‘on the go’ snack and it probably isn’t that healthy, but who cares?
The sweet stuff
Osaka isn’t the only place in Japan where you’ll find sugar-heavy desserts but Osaka definitely has its fair share of them! The French-looking Maison de Gigi looks pretty out of place in downtown Osaka but it is worth visiting for its amazing parfaits. There was also a Grandma’s Crepes-esque stand which drew a huge crowd and we also experienced our first ‘melon soda’, which basically just tastes of sugar and green. All of these things are delicious, of course, and you can pretend you’re working all that sugar off when you’re walking around Osaka.
If you’re a proper foodie, Dotonbori and Shinsekai are two of the best places to go for your Osaka cuisine fix. Wherever you end up, you’re sure to receive a warm Osaka welcome!