Osaka Food Specialties: Top 5 Foods For First Timers

eattalktraveljapanEat

Like we mentioned in our last Osaka article, Osaka is one of the best food cities in Japan. Food is everywhere, so it’s hard to know where to start. But, never fear, we’ll introduce you to some Osaka food specialties to get you off to a good start.

To get started, we will introduce you to the most famous Osaka street food: Takoyaki.

Takoyaki: the ultimate Osaka street food

osaka food specialties

Takoyaki covered with scallions and bonito (skipjack tuna) flakes.

If you’ve read anything else about Osaka, you’ve probably heard all about Takoyaki.

Small balls of dough are filled with scallion, pickled ginger, and a piece of octopus. They are slowly fried in a special pan until they’re crispy on the outside and gooey in the middle. Takoyaki is popular as a street food and is usually sold from a little stall where you can watch the little balls being slowly turned until they reach the perfect shape.

It sounds a little weird if you’re not usually an octopus eater, but it’s so good when done right.

Common toppings are Takoyaki sauce, bonito flakes (flaked skipjack tuna), and scallions.

Where to eat it:

There’s Takoyaki on pretty much every corner in Osaka, but here are a couple of our favorites:

Hanadako

9-26 Kakudacho,

Kita, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 530-0017

It’s hard to choose a favorite, but Hanadako is near the top of our list. The little shop has no seats and just a small counter for standing and eating. It’s usually crowded, but their Takoyaki is worth the wait.

Takoyaki Wanaka Sennichimae

11-19 Nanbasennichimae,

Chuo, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0075

Wanaka is a must eat in Dotonbori with a nicely balanced texture that’s crispy outside and soft inside. Be sure to go around the corner where they have a seating area.

Okonomiyaki or Negiyaki?

osaka food specialties

A fresh batch of Okonomiyaki and Negiyaki being cooked right in front of you.

Are you familiar with Okonomiyaki?

It’s a savory Japanese pancake mixed with the ingredients of your choice and cooked on a teppan grill right in front of you. While you can get it all over Japan, it was invented in Osaka and you should definitely try it here.

Yet, as much as we love Okonomiyaki, it’s popular all over Japan so we recommend you try Negiyaki in Osaka. Negiyaki has a thinner batter and lots of scallions inside. The amount varies from place to place, but generally, there’s a huge portion of scallions added which gives it a distinctive taste from Okonomiyaki.

osaka food specialties

osaka food specialties

Where to eat it:

Fukutaro

2 Chome-3-17 Sennichimae,

Chuo, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0074

This bustling restaurant around Namba is very crowded, but we love the Negiyaki there. Rather than sitting at a table, there’s a large bar that surrounds the cooks. You watch them cook many different types of Okonomiyaki and you have a grill in front of your seat.

Momotaro

6 Chome-2-2 Oimazatominami,

Higashinari Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 537-0013

This small shop a great place to try many different types of Okonomiyaki with a tableside grill. They will cook it in the back and then bring the Okonomiyaki out to your table and put it on the warm grill in front of you. You can slice it yourself and add any sauces you like.

Kushikatsu

osaka food specialities

Kushikatsu, skewered and fried vegetables, was invented in Osaka and the Shin-Sekai area is the best place to try it.

Skewered meat and seasonal vegetables fried in oil are called Kushikatsu. It originated in the Shinsekai area back in the early 1900s and is now one of Osaka’s most popular foods.

You can choose amongst a variety of ingredients and they will be dipped in batter, fried and served fresh on a small tray. You usually order a few different things at a time.

There will be pieces of fresh cabbage on the side, plus a shared dish of sauce to dip them in.

Don’t double dip!

Since the sauce is shared, you just dip your food in it once. If you want to add more sauce, you should use a piece of cabbage to scoop out more.

Where to eat it:

Tengu

3 Chome-4-12 Ebisuhigashi,

Naniwa Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 556-0002

Tengu is not that easy for foreigners, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing… It has an old-school Japanese diner vibe and makes great Kushikatsu. But, we really loved the Doteyaki, which is skewered beef tendon smothered in a sweet miso sauce.

osaka food specialties

Doteyaki is usually available alongside Kushikatsu and has a nice, sweet flavor due to the miso sauce it’s dipped in.

Horumonyaki

osaka food specialties

Horumonyaki is one of Osaka’s most unique foods. Offal meat is grilled tableside, along with any other type of meat you like.

Horumonyaki was born in Osaka and is based on the word hormone. It’s supposed to give you energy.

Basically, it’s grilled beef or pork offal meat. Heart, liver, and intestine are some of the more popular options, but each place will have slightly different options.

If you don’t like offal meat, don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of other options. You can go with a standard cut of meat or vegetables.

Where to eat it:

Wagyu Yakiniku Taizan

2 Chome-1-22 Minamimorimachi,

Kita, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 530-0054

This is a fantastic place to not only try Horumon, but to try any type of Yakiniku. They specialize in Wagyu beef and have large tables with well-ventilated grills. So, even if you’re not ready to go for the Horumon, you can still try grilled Wagyu beef.

Japanese Curry

osaka food specialties

Tonkatsu curry from Joto Curry. We loved the fragrant, well-balanced sauce.

Japanese curry is famous all over Japan, but people often make it at home, rather than going out. We’re not saying you can’t get it at restaurants, because you can, but, in Osaka, this taken to a whole new level. There are curry restaurants everywhere and many have slow-cooked, homemade curry sauces that will blow you away.

One of our favorites is Katsu curry, which is rice topped with a fried pork cutlet and then smothered in curry sauce. You can usually get a raw egg on the side, too.

Where to eat it:

Joto Curry

4 Chome-5-10 Honmachi,

Chuo, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 541-0053

A great little spot in the center of the city with a well-balanced, fragrant sauce. They offer a free egg on the side, too.

Diamond Curry

2 Chome-27-17 Ōmiya,

Asahi-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 535-0002

If you want to step off the beaten path a little bit, Diamond curry won’t disappoint you, especially if you’re hungry. They have a rich curry sauce and offer huge portions. It’s also right across the street from a Shotengai (covered shopping street) that you should explore if you get the chance.

You’ll love these Osaka food specialties… but they’re just a start

These five recommendations are just a starting point. They’re all either unique to Osaka or are just better than what you find in other places.

They’re all pretty accessible and easy to understand even if you don’t speak Japanese, so if it’s your first time in Osaka you should start here.

Soon, we’ll introduce you to some of the options that are a little harder to find and understand, but worth the effort.