Osaka is far and away my favourite food-loving city in Asia. Coming from someone that ate his way across the continent, this says a lot. Don’t just take my word for it though, Osaka is literally known as “The Nation’s Kitchen.” There is even a saying, “Osaka wa kuidaore!” which means “Osaka people eat ’til they drop!” This all said the area is naturally known for several cheap and delicious dishes. With that in mind, here are my recommendations on the best food in Osaka and where to find my top five must-try dishes.
Grab your chopsticks, and let’s tuck in.
Guide or Go it Alone?
Before we dive into this tasty list on where to find the best food in Osaka I should mention, you don’t need to go it alone! Magical Trip offers some great food tours in Osaka and beyond. I highly recommend their tours if you want to enjoy these Osaka dishes with new friends! I joined their Osaka Bar Hopping night tour in Namba and had a blast! Not only did we have a local guide sharing her favourite spots we got an understanding behind the sometimes quirky culture and traditions when it comes to Japanese food and drink.
Osaka‘s favourite street food is Takoyaki. These gooey balls of flour, pickled red ginger, green onions, and octopus originated in Osaka and can be easily found throughout the city. You can line up outside the giant mechanical octopus on Dōtonbori for the full tourist experience or head a few blocks north to the street side Kogaryu Takoyaki. There you can grab an order and enjoy them in the park side with the locals.
- Note: Be sure to poke them with your chopstick to let the heat escape! Popping them straight in your mouth will burn you.
Although I first discovered Okonomiyaki in Hiroshima, the savoury pancake varies from region to region and Osaka, arguably, does it best. A mix of eggs, cabbage, and pork, it’s prepared tableside making the show as good as the dish. It’s topped with Japanese mayonnaise, powdered nori, dried bonito flakes, and a tangy Okonomiyaki sauce. It’s then sliced and served piping hot. Think Japan-style pizza.
My favourite Okonomiyaki spot is in the barhopping area of Tenma. Tucked down a tiny alley off Tenjinbashi-suji, the longest shopping street in Japan, you will find Chigusa. This hidden gem is loved by locals and offers up “Chigusa-yaki,” their special Okonomiyaki cooked with a thick pork rib fillet.
Kushikatsu is an Osaka style of Kushyaki which literally means cooked meat on a stick. Where Osaka’s Kushikatsu differs is the skewers are battered and deep-fried. The servings are also smaller than those found in other regions and come in a wide variety of ingredients. This means you can try many different kinds while enjoying a pint of Asahi or some sake.
- Note: The golden rule to enjoying these golden skewers is to take as much sauce as you like but never double dip!
For the full tourist experience head to one of the 14 locations of Daruma, a chain specializing in Kushikatsu. They are easy to spot with their mascot of an angry-looking chef out front
The best Kushikatsu I had while exploring Osaka was in the Namba area while on a bar-hopping tour with Magical Trip. I highly recommend this for those looking to sample a lot on this list all in one great night out!
Although not technically from Osaka, there’s no shortage of Waygu beef in this foodie town. Best of all, it can be found at reasonable prices.
Waygu refers to specific breeds of Japanese cattle and is commonly thought to be pampered with massages and beer. Truth or not, Waygu has the most beautiful marble you will ever see. Although nearby Kobe beef is the best-known type of Waygu, I recommend Matsusaka beef at Matsusaka M. The service is great and you can not beat the price!
Last up on this list of where to find the best food in Osaka is the jiggly soufflé pancakes. This is the latest food craze to come out of Japan as stores are just now starting to pop up in North America. Not going to lie, I contemplated opening up a shop of my own in Vancouver after my first bite!
These fluffy creations hail from Osaka and are as photogenic as they are tasty. There is no rushing perfection here as each pancake takes 20-minutes to make. You can find these pancakes at the popular chain restaurant Gram however for a less pretentious experience head to the Instagram friendly A Happy Pancake.Check out the Tripadvisor reviews on Gram! Check out the Tripadvisor reviews on A Happy Pancake!
The Best Food in Osaka – Bonus Round
Still have room after these five must eat Osaka dishes? Then read on for my favourite spots for Sushi and Ramen!
Although Ramen is readily available throughout Japan, the best I have had comes from Osaka. Ramen Zundoya, a chain with locations as far as New York City serves up fatty Ramen broth that is so very thick and so very good. Erin and I visited this Osaka favourite three times in the span of five days! After each visit, we rolled ourselves out in a sweaty coma yet still returned. It’s that good.Check out the Tripadvisor reviews on Ramen Zundoya!
Last up on this bonus round of the best food in Osaka is where to find perhaps not the best sushi, but the most fun sushi. Known first and for most for value, Kura Sushi serves up sushi conveyor belt style with a twist. Guests order on a touchscreen and wait for dishes to zoom out from the kitchen. Once you collect enough plates in the tableside return slot you are rewarded with an on-screen game where you can win small prizes!
Best of all, dinner (and entertainment for two) cost just 1,800 yen. That’s only ~$20!
This magical place is a chain and I visited the Kura Sushi Shinsekai Tsutenkaku location. You can find it upstairs in the last building on the left facing the Tsutenkaku Tower.
Where to Stay in Osaka
Looking to sleep off that food coma? Here are my choice hotels no matter your budget.
Modern rooms in Nishishinsaibashi. It has a cute rooftop terrace and free massage chairs in the lobby. There is also free Ramen and booze during happy hour!
Traditional rooms with included breakfast. It’s steps from the Nagahoribashi metro station and, even better, next to a 7-11!
Basic dorm and private rooms located steps from Shinsaibashi shopping street. Also includes free Japanese treats on check-in!
What’s Your Take on The Best Food in Osaka?
There you have it. My take on the best food in Osaka and where to find it. This, of course, is only the tip of the food mountain that is Osaka. As noted, there are so many amazing things to try in this foodie town and with a restaurant or vendor on every corner, there is no shortage of places to try. What are your favourites? Let me know in the comments below!Ready to tuck into this foodie town? Compare prices on flights to Osaka with Skyscanner!