When planning a trip to Osaka, you may be focused on the sites that you plan to visit. But between destinations, you still need to eat.
Luckily, there is no shortage of food options.
How do you know what to eat in Osaka? In most public areas, you can easily find one-of-a-kind street food from local vendors. There are also many quality establishments serving everything from authentic Osaka cuisine to Western dishes with a Japanese influence.
Need help finding the tastiest menus? Get ready to indulge your palate with this thorough Osaka food guide.
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Osaka food guide: 8 must-eat dishes
Whether you’re visiting top Osaka attractions like the ancient Osaka Castle or the Universal Studios Japan theme park, you’ll find vendors selling sweet buns called taiko-manju. This traditional treat is a staple of the region and is made with a batter comprised of flour, sugar, and eggs. The batter is beat into the shape of a drum and filled with steamy bean paste.
It’s a filling dish. The bean paste gives you protein while the batter provides carbs. When you’re busy running between attractions, these affordable meals are incredibly convenient. You can carry them and eat as you head to your next destination – so long as you don’t eat on public transit, which is considered rude.
If you want the best taiko-manju in the city, head to Gozasouro. It’s located on the first floor of the JR Shin-Osaka Station.
Octopus is on the menu when you decide to try takoyaki. It’s another snack that includes a protein source that is covered in batter and fried. With takoyaki, the batter is wheat flour-based.. The inside is typically filled with diced or minced octopus, ginger, and green onion and they’re topped with a Japanese style mayo and fish flakes.
As you walk through some of the busy commercial districts of Osaka, look for restaurants pulling fresh takoyaki from the oven. These takoyaki are often baked in special mold pans and they taste best when they’re still steaming hot.
There are several restaurants that specialize in takoyaki. However, the most recommended spot is the Takoyaki-Douraku Wanaka. They are open seven days a week and stay open late.
If octopus doesn’t sound appealing, you should try negiyaki. This special meal tastes like crepes filled with lots of green onion. It is often served with soy sauce and some versions include meat, such as beef or pork. The thin pancake-like batter is a light and crispy, making it a great option for lunch or a quick bite.
Negiyaki is a favorite food for people of all ages in Osaka. You’ll find it at many different shops throughout the city.
However, if you want to try authentic negiyaki, visit Yamamoto. It’s open seven days a week but doesn’t open until 11:30 in the morning.
If the negiyaki doesn’t fill you up, okonomiyaki is the next food to try. It’s a lot like negiyaki, but these savoury pancakes are thicker. It’s also filled with more ingredients. Instead of green onions, you’ll get cabbage, pork, or seafood. It’s also a staple of the Osaka region and is made with batter and fried on a griddle, similar to the familiar pancake.
There are quite a few great spots to find tasty okonomiyaki in Osaka. One of the top restaurants is Chibo, which has quite a few locations throughout the city.
You may start to notice that most of the top foods in the city are made with batter. These foods are called Konamono and most Osakaites have their own favorite recipes that they often prepare at home. While you can fill the inside of the food with almost anything, cabbage and meat are usually the main ingredients.
Yakiniku should seem more familiar to Western travellers, as it’s simply described as thinly sliced grilled meat. This food originally referred to Western-style barbecue meats. You’ll typically find yakiniku in restaurants that offer self-service barbecue.
While it’s inspired by Western barbecue, yakiniku is most popular among Korean people who live in Osaka. In fact, you’ll find many Korean restaurants that serve this dish, especially in the largest Koreatown in the area.
The most recommended destination for mouth-watering yakiniku is Tsuruichi in Tsuruhashi. If you plan to go there on a weekday, the restaurant is closed between three and four each afternoon.
If you want more deep-fried food, you’ll enjoy kushikatsu. It’s deep-fried meat on a stick. You can also find deep-fried vegetables on a stick or a combination of both (the Japanese version of a shish kebab). It’s one of the most popular foods in the city. In fact, you’ll find cans of special sauce made just for kushikatsu in most shops.
Osakites have a general rule for eating kushikatsu. You should never double-dip your stick in the sauce. Double-dipping is considered rude, even if you’re a tourist.
People that want the best kushikatsu visit the Daruma-Tsutenkaku restaurant. They serve incredibly tasty kushikatsu but charge a premium price for it.
Kitsune Udon is a noodle-based dish. The udon is thick wheat-flour noodles. The kitsune udon is served with a piece of tofu that is deep-fried and simmered in a sweet sauce. While you can find this dish in almost any city in Japan, it originated in Osaka.
The sweet, crispy deep-fried tofu is the star of this dish. When you get it in Osaka, you might notice it’s typically lighter compared to the version of the dish served in Tokyo or other major cities.
While you can find the kitsune udon in various restaurants throughout Osaka, the Usami-tei Matsubaya is considered the first restaurant to serve this dish.
Doteyaki is skewered beef sinew that is covered in sweet sake, miso paste, and sugar. It has a distinct flavor that pairs well with beer, making it a popular choice in the neighborhoods with a lot of bars. When you visit the entertainment districts, you’ll often find vendors selling these treats to nighttime revelers.
Doteyaki is one of the most unique foods that you can find in Osaka. Not everyone may enjoy the sinewy beef. It is chewy, stretchy, and often contains some fat. It’s a delicacy and deserves to be tried at least once, so if you are adventurous, go for it!
Kushikatsu Doteyaki Nadai Tsurukameya is a popular destination for quality doteyaki. The restaurant is open 24 hours a day and tends to be busiest around nine in the evening.
Where to stay in Osaka: The best hotels for foodies
For eating to your heart’s content in Osaka, there are plenty of great places to lay your head. Among the most exciting areas to stay in Osaka for foodies are Dotonbori, Namba, and Shinsekai. Each of these neighbourhoods are well-known for their vast selection of restaurants and amazing street food offerings. Here are a few hotels to start your search:
- Red Roof Inn & Suites Osaka Namba Nipponbashi: A new hotel that’s located close to Dotonbori and Namba with stylish, modern and ultra-clean rooms.
- Cross Hotel Osaka: A trendy mid-range hotel within a block of the wild Dotonbori entertainment district and Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping Street. The bright rooms throw in extras amenities like modern Japanese washlet toilets and soaker bathtubs for an extra relaxing and luxurious stay.
- Swissôtel Nankai Osaka: Among the top luxury hotels in the city, this 5-star property is connected to Namba and lies less than ten minutes away from Dotonbori by foot. The contemporary room are big by Japanese standards and offer amazing views out their massive picture windows. For an extra dash of luxury and relaxation, enjoy the indoor pool and spa.