Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Best Food in Osaka, Japan




Y’all know that Osaka is considered as Japan’s culinary central. It has all kinds of cuisines and a big range of food choices within a stone’s throw away from each other. Whether it’s Italian food, burgers, boulangaries, takoyaki, yakitori joints, ramen and cafes, you’ll be spoiled rotten in Osaka.

You’ve seen many versions of “Where to...” or “What to..” eat in Osaka lists all over the internet. Well, here’s my list of places and dishes that I legit enjoyed in my last 3 trips in Osaka.

OKONOMIYAKI AND YAKISOBA

There are three dishes synonymous with every mention of Osaka. Two of them being Okonomiyaki and Yakisoba. There’s a lot of shops that specialises on both of these delicacies. If you only have time for 1 or 2 shops, here’s the shops you need to check out:

Houzenji Sanpei

If you find yourself wandering around Houzenji Yokocho (one of Osaka’s most visited sites), then you might want to consider dining at one of Osaka’s most iconic shops for Japan’s beloved pan grilled savoury pancakes. Houzenji Sanpei is right in the heart of this laneway dining destination. 



Their Okonomiyaki offerings range from ¥900 to ¥1500 with choices like potato bacon cheese and mushroom scallop cheese. I personally love their special yakisoba (¥1450), which has the perfect balance of sweet, soy and umami flavours with toppings such as shrimp, pork, squid, and scallops. 



Just like most okonomiyaki shops, they cook your dishes on a sizzling hot plate on your table. Counter seating is also available.

Address: 1 Chome-7-10 Dotonbori Chuo-ku, Osaka
Nearest Station: Namba/Nipponbashi

Ajinoya

This shop is highly rated by both locals and by the Michelin folks that they included Ajinoya in their Bib Gourmand list. It’s pretty much like Houzenji Sanpei but the queues are longer (I suggest getting there extra early before opening time) and okonomiyaki are tastier, bigger and more plump. I recommend trying their Ajinoya’s Mix Okomiyaki (¥1,300) with octopus, pork, squid and shrimp. But my absolute favourite here is their Omu Soba (¥1,160 for lunch, which is basically a shrimp and squid yakisoba wrapped in fluffy omelette.

Address: 1-7-16 Namba, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Nearest station: Namba/Shinsaibashi
Opening Hours: [Mon] 6pm- 10:45pm [Tues-Fri] noon -10:45pm [Sat] 11:30am - 10:45pm

TAKOYAKI

Konamon Museum



Our all-time favourite octopus filled sphere-shaped snacks are available almost everywhere in Osaka. I can never resist those plump tasty octopus sphere snack specially when topped with bonito flakes, mayo and that sweet & salty takoyaki sauce. When you visit Osaka chances are, you’ll end up at some point in Dotonbori. For convenience and for tasty takoyaki treats, check out Dotonbori Konamon Museum. It’s the shop with the massive Octopus statue!

Address: 1-6-12 Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Hours: 11am to 10pm
Nearest station: Namba

Kogaryu Amerikamura Honten Takoyaki



My favourite takoyaki shop has got to be Kogaryu in the America Mura area of Shinsaibashi. Besides being delicious, it’s also value for money! A standard classic takoyaki with the bonito flakes, mayo and takoyaki sauce for 10 pieces only costs ¥580. The special negi takoyaki costs ¥680. Plus there’s Sankakukoen park right across from the shop where you can chill and devour your takoyaki. Another reason to visit Kogaryu is that this shop is also in Michelin group’s Bib gourmand list.

Address: 2-18-4 Nishi Shinsaibashi , Chuo-ku, Osaka
Nearest station: Shinsaibashi/Namba/Yotsubashi
Hours: 10am to 8.30pm

OMURICE



Another dish that’s almost everywhere in Osaka (and the rest of Japan) is omurice. Various flavours of fried rice wrapped in a fluffy buttery blanket of egg. We tried a few including a random café located in the Namba Walk subway area of Namba station.

Kobe Kitchen Muguni




My favourite has to be Muguni Kobe Café located in the Americamura area of Shinsaibashi. If you think omurice with demi-glace is fancy, well think again! This place does Omurice with creamy gorgonzola sauce (¥880) and the egg on their fried rice is the fluffiest that I’ve come across. The star here is their Omurice with Kobe beef! Their signature omurice topped with tender buttery perfectly cooked medium rare Kobe beef steak. So legit that they even show you a certificate that the steak is an authentic Kobe beef meat.

Address: 1F, Nippomitsuderakaikan,
2-9-5, Nishishinsaibashi, Chuo-ku Osaka-shi, Osaka
Hours:  7 Days 11.30am to 9.30pm
Nearest station: Shinsaibashi


YAKITORI

Sumibi-yakitori Enya


I have been told that Osaka-style yakitori dishes in general tend to go on the sweeter notes compared to its Tokyo counterparts. A local favourite amongst chefs in the area is Sumibi-yakitori Enya in Namba. There are 2 shops in the Namba area and we ended visting the shops located west of Namba Station.


We went with the usuals like kawa (chicken skin ¥90 per piece), negima (chicken thigh pieces with spring onions ¥160 per piece), tontoro (pork neck ¥216 per piece) and tsukune (chicken meatballs ¥180 per piece). The crispy karaage chicken (¥648) here is so tasty with notes of ginger and salted rice malt. You need to try their potato salad that’s creamy with hints of sweetness and light umami. They also serve ice cream and candy at the end as part of their table service fee.

Address: 4-6-4, Namba, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka, 542-0076
Hours: Monday - Sunday 17:00 - 1:00, the following day(L.O.24:00)
Nearest station: Namba

SEAFOOD:

Kuromon Ichiba Market


There are hundreds of seafood restaurants in the Chuo ward of Osaka alone. In my opinion, the best starting point to sample some of Osaka’s finest seafood selection is to head over to Kuromon Ichiba or “Black Gate Market”. The market is just a short walk south of Nippombashi Station.






Just like most markets in Japan, you can purchase fresh and cooked seafood from various shops. Whether it’s grilled giant scallops, grilled unagi tamagoyaki nigiri, uni (sea urchin), fried seafood or sushi, they have it all! There are also a lot of shops that sell fresh veggies, pickles, niku (meat), treats like warabi mochi, mitarashi dango and more. There’s an area south of the market where you can sit and eat all the food that you have bought at the markets.


DESSERTS and SWEET TREATS

Pancakes



You can find all 3 of Japans most popular soufflé pancake places in Osaka. The fluffy pancakes of Gram, the range of flavours from A Happy Pancake and if you’re a fan of Bill’s ricotta pancakes, then you need to check out Micasadeco’s soufflé ricotta pancakes.

ELK Café has a good range of soufflé pancakes too. You will only find them in Osaka, so best to check them out while you’re in the area. The Shinsaibashi shop is particularly cozy.

Click HERE for my Japanese Pancakes post.

Cremia


After making its debut in 2015, Cremia took Japan by storm. It’s a Hokkaido milk and whipped cream soft serve concoction that is loved by both locals and tourists alike. Cremia is found almost everywhere in major Japan prefectures. Just look for the Cremia soft scream poster outside a shop! But your best bet to find cremia is by visiting an Excelsior Caffe branch and you  are certain to get your Cremia fix. You can get the OG soft cream or soft scream drizzled with matcha or chocolate powder. Some shops even have chocolate Cremia soft cream.

CANELÉ du JAPON


Some of the best caneles I have come across in my life is in Osaka! They are a tad smaller than the ones I’ve seen and tried in Australia but for tasty morsels priced between ¥120 to ¥150 yen, they were amazing! They have a wide range of flavours and we tried the following: Shiro (Their OG rum & vanilla), Hojicha, Matcha Anko, Kokoto nut (coconut) and special white raisin & rum. The shiro flavour was my favourite. It had a perfect crisp shell with an almost semi-custardy inside.  

Address: 2-1-13, Dojimahama, Kita-ku Osaka-shi, Osaka
Hours: 11:00am to 7pm daily

Warabi Mochi

When in Kansai, one has to try warabi mochi! Whilst you can get them at sweets souvenir shops, food halls, there are 2 other places you can definitely get them from: Kuromon Ichiba Market and 7 Eleven.


These delicious stretchy delights are my absolute type of mochi. You can have it with tea or have it as part of a dessert platter and in some places even serve them in soft cream! But I prefer to have it on its own and savour the goodness along with the peanut butter tasting kinako that it is coated with.

Pablo and Bake by Kinotoya

Another Japanese treats that are known worldwide are Japanese cheese tarts. Two of the most popular chains are Bake and Pablo, which you can also try in Osaka.



There’s a lot of Pablo shops in Osaka alone. Their cafe in Nishi-Shinsaibashi has a huge range of tarts, coffee, softserves, cheese filled langue de chat and more. They also have cakes, milk shakes and savoury dishes.



Bake by Kinotoya originated from Hokkaido. The star in their tarts is the cheese filling. The custardy cheese mousse filling is more oozy and cremeir compared to Pablo. 6 pieces of their mini-tarts is ¥1,275. Some shops even offer smooth velvety milky softserves.

Lord Stow’s Portugese Tarts



Andrew Stow opened the first Lord Stow’s in the island of Macau. His empire has expanded to places like Hong Kong and the awesome Dotonbori strip of Osaka. As you enter Dotonbori from Mido-suji, the shop will be immediately on your left. Their OG Portugese tarts are simply amazing with their buttery flaky pastry and custardy creme brûlée like filling. 

Address: 1-10-6 Dotonbori, Chuo, Osaka
Hours: 10am to 12midnight daily
Nearest station: Namba

LeTao at Sweets Box




You cannot visit Japan without trying one of the best cheesecakes it has to offer. LeTao hails from Hokkaido, which produces the best dairy products in Japan. Their double fromage is the most luscious and premium cheesecake I’ve had. It’s a two layered cheesecake with a no-bake mascarpone cheesecake and the bottom layer of baked cheesecake. The combined contrast of each layer delivers the most balanced cheesecake texture as a whole. The Sweets Box shop at Yodoyabashi Station carries LeTao products. 

Address: Keihan Train Yodoyabashi Station
 West exit of the ticket gate.
Hours: 10am to 9pm daily
Nearest station: Yodoyabashi Station


PIZZAS and BURGERS

il Sole Rosso




Japan has numerous AVPN (Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana) certified pizza places and one of them is a highly rated shop in Shinsaibashi on the east side of Mido-suji Boulevard. IL Sole Rosso has a pizzeria trattoria vibe. A booking in advance is recommended. They still welcome walk-ins but there is a time limit (they gave us 1 hour from the time they took our order).




We opted for a margherita pizza (good value at ¥990) and a quattro  formaggi pizza (¥1490). The margherita here was perfect with its thin doughy base with charred bits underneath, freshly made tomato base sauce and beautiful toppings of buffalo mozzarella and basil. The quattro formaggi pizza is a cheese lover’s dream with so much creaminess, umami and without the gorgonzola cheese being too overpowering. Best value AVPN pizza that I have come across in my life.

Address: 2F Yanjing building, 1-4-14 Shinsaibashi Osaka, Chuo-ku
Hours: [Monday to Saturday] 11: 30 ~ 15: 30 (LO14: 30) 17: 30 ~ 22: 30 (LO21: 30)
[Sunday] 11: 30  15: 30 (LO14: 30) ,  17: 30  22: 00 (LO21: 00)
Nearest station: Shinsaibashi

Pizza Stand NY




On the west of Mido-suji Boulevard is America-mura. In an area full of American themed shops, it’s just fitting to have an Americana style pizza. Pizza Stand NY is run by Mr Daisuke Fukumoto. A lot of expats who live in the area refers to their New York style pizza “legit”. Expect classic flavours from cheese pizza, pepperoni pizza, and sausage pizza to new iterations like mushroom pizza and margherita-style pizzas. Personally, I think their pizzas are pretty legit too. A huge NY-style slice starts from around ¥500 and a whole pizza from ¥3500.

Address: 2 Chome-9-36 Nishishinsaibashi, Chuo, Osaka
Hours:  11:30am to 9pm daily
Nearest station: Shinsaibashi and Namba

Critters

If there is only 1 burger place that you can visit in Osaka, then it needs to be Critters. This place has that full on Americana diner vibe with memorabilia and vintage fittings. It’s conveninent as it is right smack bang in the middle of Shinsaibashi. It always gets a queue so it’s best to get there before or just right at opening time.




We tried their Double bacon cheeseburger, a cheeseburger, and fried chicken. Their burgers start from ¥950 comes with fried potato wedges. Most burgers in Japan look beautiful but the excess folded lettuce can sometimes cause all the fillings to slip out of the burg. Critters massive burgers are well-constructed with perfectly seasoned patties containing coarsely grounded mince beef. Each patty has pockets of beautiful meat juice bursting with flavour. The cheese is perfectly melted and the burger has a good amount of sauce. The fried chicken’s coating is crunchy hiding underneath some of the juiciest chicken meat I’ve had. Nostalgia alert: Critters has rootbeer float on their menu!

Address: 1-10-35 Nishishinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Hours: 11am to 11pm
Nearest Station: Shinsaibashi

YAKINIKU


Gyu-kaku

















A lot of yakiniku joints out there can get quite expensive if you are not careful with what you order. I recommend Gyu-Kaku if you want yakiniku that’s value for money. It’s big chain that does all-you-can-eat meat, seafood and sides starting from ¥3,480. You can get meat cuts from beef ribs, beef skirt, chicken in cheese, to aged premium steak to pork belly and seafood. There’s also a choice of either meats that are flavoured with shio (salt) or tare (sauce). Sides range from salads, to pickled veggies, rice and soup. As usual, there’s a grill on your table to cook your meats and seafood on and you are given a tablet to choose dishes from. Once you have put through your order, the dishes come out. You are also given 90 minutes for the duration of your stay and your tablet will give you a reminder of how long you have left before time is up. Also, you will be charged extra for any leftovers on your plate.

Address: 1 Chome-6-10 Dotonbori, Chuo, Osaka, Osaka
Hours: 11.30am to 5am the next day.
Nearest station: Namba


CAFES

Lilo Roasters




Lilo was one of the first ever specialty coffee shops that I’ve visited in Japan. The convenient Shinsaibashi location is a plus and they close quite late at 10pm.  Owner and head barista Keita Nakamura roasts all his blend and single origins in-house. This is a common sight in the Osaka specialty coffee scene. Nakamura-san does a lot of collaborations with other cafes and also judges coffee competitions. The dude’s got clout and you bet that he has the skills to back that up.




I’ve tried his filter coffee from cold brews to pour overs. I’ve had sweet juicy Kenyan coffee and bold Colombians. When Keita is behind the counter, you need to really try his pour overs. I really like their blends too which tend to have milk chocolate notes through a latte.

Address: 1 Chome−1−10-28 Nishishinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Hours: 11am to 11pm Daily
Nearest Station: Shinsaibashi

Granknot Coffee




Another café with a convenient location especially if you are staying around Shinsaibashi and Namba is Granknot Coffee. They are located in the heart of the Orange Street shopping district. The space has a very industrial and vintage look with warm lighting. There are communal and 2 seater tables available.


They roast their own beans from singles to blends. The singles that are roasted for filter tends to be around medium in body and flavour. Their Ethiopian coffee on V60 pour over (¥450) was a tad darker for my liking but was still light enough that I could enjoy the flavours. The blends are done a little bit darker.  So you get a nice sweet and dark chocolate notes in your latte (¥480). I also recommend their fluffy sugar coated Nutella doughnut (¥350)!

Address: 1 Chome-23-4 Kitahorie, Nishi Ward, Osaka
Hours: Mon to Wed and Friday 9am to 6pm, Thurs closed, Sat and Sun 11am to 6pm

Brooklyn Roasting Company





This was recommended to me by Sydney’s most awesome coffee connoisseur, James Fridley a.k.a. @Bitterbliss on Instagram. The homie James visits Kansai a lot so if you want any coffee recommendations in Osaka, follow him!







I love the space’s whole rustic vibe. You can choose either a blend or single origin for your milk coffee whether it would be a caffe latte or cappuccino. I also had a filtered Yigracheffe coffee and it was quite fruity. The doughnut were tasty, fluffy and was value for money at ¥300. The cinnamon scrolls with cream cheese icing were massive and so good for the steal price of ¥350.

Address: 2 Chome-1-16 Kitahama, Chuo, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 541-0041, Japan
Hours: Mon to Fri 8am to 8pm
Sat & Sun 10am to 7pm

Convenient stores and food stores











When in Osaka or any major city in Japan, you need to hit up 7 Eleven, Lawsons and other food stores to sample local baked goods, the best egg sandwiches, onigiri, beverages unique to Japan and more. The quality of their hot savoury dishes like karaage chicken etc. is beyond what you would normally expect from a convenient store food.


RAMEN






Click HERE for my Osaka and other Kansai ramen recommendations.

**BONUS ROUND: KOBE**

Mouriya Honten – Kobe Beef

Kobe is only 30-40 minutes by train from Osaka. As most of y’all know, Kobe is quite known to have the best beef in the world. The area near Sannomiya station has lots of steak and yakiniku restaurants. Mouriya has been around for many years. They have been around since 1885! We booked online (www.mouriya.co.jp/en) for a lunch session.



The restaurant is teppanyaki-style where they cook your rice, vegetables and beef on a large hot plate right in front of you. Everything is cooked with great care and showmanship. They present you the beef so you can marvel on all that Wagyu marbling before it gets cooked. We opted for their premium A5 Kobe beef sirloin fillet steak (180grams for ¥16,800) and a normal Kobe beef rump steak (150grams for ¥7,500). Any order of beef comes with soup, salad, vegetables, rice or bread and coffee or tea. Both were exceptionally amazing but the A5 Kobe Sirloin was more buttery. I have not come across a beef that buttery and tasty with only a simple salt & pepper seasoning. It’s an experience all meat lovers out there need to do when in Kansai.

Address: 2-1-17, Shimoyamatedori, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo, 650-0011
Hours: Monday - Sunday & Day before holiday & Holiday 11:00 - 22:00(L.O.21:00)
Monday - Sunday & Day before holiday & Holiday Lunch: 11:00 - 15:00(L.O.15:00)
Nearest Station: Sannomiya

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