Tenjinbashisuji is the longest shotengai (covered shopping street) in Japan, featuring hundreds of storefronts. All the walking and haggling is sure to make anyone hungry. Luckily, there are many eateries, cafés and bars inside this covered market. Check out the best places to satisfy your appetite or quench your thirst on Osaka’s Tenjinbashisuji.
Takoyaki is an Osakan specialty, a doughy dish of octopus and ginger grilled inside tasty batter and topped with sauce. Takoyaki Wakana is the spot to try this famous street food on Tenjinbashisuji. Takoyaki is a great grab-and-go snack, but Wakana has seating for those who want to rest their legs or try the dish with a cold beer. There are actually two locations of this shop along the road, so if you work up a hunger along the way after your first trip, you can always stop for more.
Nabeya Darumado specialises in nabe, a Japanese hotpot dish that’s totally customisable and fun to prepare. Guests get to choose what they want to eat – all-you-can-eat pork or beef plus a variety of vegetables – and stew it at their table themselves. Once satisfied with the meat and vegetables, order some noodles or risotto to eat with the leftover broth. Though at its most satisfying in winter, nabe is enjoyable year-round for its flavour, never-ending quantities and incredible value.
If you’re looking to hang with the locals while enjoying delicious – and affordable – sushi, check out Harukoma. Located in the trendy Tenroku area, this sushi and sashimi spot is popular with Osaka’s downtown inhabitants. People usually form a line before it even opens for lunch, so be sure to get there early. Alternatively, you could visit outside of typical lunch and dinner hours if you want to maximise your time bargain hunting.
Besides sushi, tempura is Japan’s most well-known food export. Get some of the best at Tempura Kitchen Makino, where the variety of deep-fried dishes are reasonably priced but still delicious. Try the Makino Teishoku set meal, which comes with an assortment of fresh fish and vegetables, or the deep fried onsen tamago (literally “hot spring egg”). It’s also a very tourist-friendly shop, with English menus available and super-accommodating staff.
Bifuteki Hibio is a cosy steak restaurant near Ogimachi Park. This Western-style eatery features tasty fried pork cutlets, juicy steaks grilled on a teppanyaki hot plate, and seafood dishes. The sommelier can help with wine choices that pair well with your meal. While the atmosphere is casual and the lunch sets affordable, the prices go up during dinner hours – but so does the quality and portion sizes.
This small bagel shop is a hidden gem in the sprawling shotengai. Good bagels are hard to come by in Japan, but this bakery delivers. The shop gets a late start for a bakery, opening at 10am with a limited supply of baked goods. Between opening and noon, the bagels come fresh out of the oven, but be warned – they run out quickly (especially on weekends). Like most Japanese bagels and other breads, these have a softer quality than the standard New York bagel, a chewy quality described locally as mochi mochi.
It may seem odd to highlight a pizza place as a recommended stop in a historic Japanese neighbourhood, but Pizzeria Il Sole Ten-3 is actually certified to make authentic Neapolitan pizza, a rare find anywhere, much less in Osaka. The large brick oven produces scores of tasty pies daily. Pasta dishes, appetisers, and various wines and cocktails are also on the menu. The interior is comfortable, with plush red booths lining the walls, and does its best to evoke an authentic Italian feel right in the heart of old Osaka.
Manmaru is an izakaya specialising in kushikatsu, another Osaka favourite. Take just about anything – meat, cheese, vegetables – skewer and fry it and you’ve got this tasty local staple. Kushikatsu is cheap and easy to eat in large quantities, so it’s recommended to order each skewer a la carte. Like any good izakaya, there’s also an assortment of drinks available to wash down your meal – traditional sake, cold beer and specialty cocktails. Manmaru is located in Tenma Garden, a new and trendy shopping centre within the massive arcade in the Tensan area.
After stuffing yourself with the many savoury delicacies of Tenjibashisuji, head over to this speciality crepe shop to appease your sweet tooth. This small shop is easy to find thanks to the queue that tends to form out front. The texture of each handmade crepe is the perfect blend of crispy and chewy. Try the crème brûlé (which sells out fast) or another one of the custard cream varieties for maximum enjoyment.
One of the many traditional, locally owned coffee shops along the road, Ibuki stands out thanks to its strong brews and quiet locale. Situated on the southern end of the long shotengai, stepping into Ibuki is like entering a slice of the Showa Era (1926-1989). Coffee shops in Japan like Ibuki are often more about the atmosphere than the quality of the food and drink served. It’s the perfect place to start or end your trip down Tenjinbashisuji if you seek to experience a laid-back, local look into this quirky district (though coffee connoisseurs are advised to visit one of these cafés instead).
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