Fan of midnight snacks? Stayed out all night and now you’re starving? You’re in luck because Osaka is the Japanese city that never sleeps. Sure you could hit up McDonalds, but you’re on vacation! Make the most of your trip by grabbing a bite at one of these great 24-hour restaurants unique to Japan and Osaka.
Hanamaruken Namba Hozenji for ramen and slow-cooked pork
Restaurant, Japanese, $$$
Nestled in Namba’s secluded and atmospheric Hozenji area, a hidden collection of alleyways known for cobbled streets and an ancient shrine, Hanamaruken is worth finding. Though it specialises in ramen, it’s the gyoza people tend to rave about. These morsels are grilled to crispy perfection and are the ideal accompaniment to the signature dish – a salty bowl of ramen topped with melt-in-your-mouth slow-cooked pork. There is usually a wait, even in the middle of the night, but it rarely takes more than 10-15 minutes to get a seat.
Chinese Cafe 8 Shinsaibashi for the best Peking duck in Osaka
Restaurant, Chinese, $$$
Chinese Cafe 8 may not serve the local cuisine, and you’re more likely to hear Chinese than Japanese spoken at the crowded tables, but the vibe is as weird and quirky as the city that surrounds it. The massive space is decked out with brightly coloured paints and lights, and giant golden statues of the Buddha. And the walls and ceiling are covered in larger-than-life likenesses of… human genitalia. Seriously, don’t bring your children here unless you don’t mind answering awkward questions. Not to mention the food is phenomenal. Located in Dotonbori just off the area’s namesake canal, this towering restaurant is difficult to miss… in more ways than one.
Ramen Zundoya Shinsaibashi for customisable bowls of ramen
Restaurant, Japanese, $$$
Zundoya is a staple of the all-night party scene. Few foods satisfy as much as ramen does after a night of boozing – though Zundoya’s bowls are good enough to be enjoyed any time of day and in any mental state. The ramen is rich and salty and comes in two main varieties: regular or spicy (though other options are available as well). Guests choose the hardness of the noodles, amount of oil in the broth and toppings. There is often a wait, even (especially) in the wee hours of the morning, but the turnaround is generally quick and it’s more than worth it.
Ichiran slakes that late night hunger just as well as Zundoya, though it might be the better choice for those who feel a little ashamed about their level of drunkenness. Ichiran wants diners to truly appreciate their ramen, so the seats at the counter are individually blocked off with removable partitions, allowing privacy for the individual and their meal. This internationally famous restaurant specialises in tonkotsu (pork broth) ramen. They use the highest quality of products to create their ramen, and guests can customise their orders, even in English.
Kinryu also appeases those nighttime ramen cravings, delivering one of the most laid-back vibes in the city. Kinryu has three locations in Dotonbori alone, easily recognisable by the giant dragons perched on top. These two branches provide seating at tatami tables where guests slip off their shoes and get cosy with giant bowls of ramen (the third location has standing room only where guests huddle around a counter slurping in silence). The bowls are simple but tasty, and if you need an extra kick there’s an unlimited supply of free garlic, green onions, and spices you can add to your heart’s (or stomach’s) content.
Yakiniku Nikuhachi Dotonbori for all-you-can-eat grilled meat and veg
Yakiniku is one of Japan’s most underrated creations. Inspired by Korean barbecue, yakiniku is simply grilled meat and vegetables guests cook themselves at their table. The cuts of meat (typically pork and beef) are choice and the vegetables fresh, and most restaurants offer a tabehoudai (all-you-can-eat) plan so the goods just keep on coming. Yakiniku Nikuhachi Dotonbori’s tabehoudai plan costs ¥3,000 (£21) and includes alcoholic beverages. They also serve nabe (Japanese hot pot) and provide outdoor seating overlooking the Dotonbori river.
Isomaru Suisan Umeda for typical late night Japanese pub food
Restaurant, Japanese, $$$
This izakaya serves an assorted selection of Japanese foods and drinks at all hours of the day and night. It’s a typical Japanese pub in many ways: the menu is diverse, ranging from shellfish to rice bowls, edamame to okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake); food is served in small, sharable portions, and smoking is allowed, filling the space with an aroma other than barbecue and booze. What makes Isomaru Suisan stand out, besides the generous hours, is the variety of fresh seafood options, including kani-miso (miso-grilled crab), sushi and sashimi. Isomaru Suisan has other Osaka locations, including in Dotonbori and Sennichimae.
Don’t dismiss this Japanese fast food chain (especially if you’ve been disappointed by one of their bland locations abroad) because it’s more than worth the try. Yoshinoya specialises in gyudon, a bowl of grilled beef and onions served over rice. Pickled ginger, raw eggs, and other toppings are available for added flavour, but the already-overflowing bowl packs a punch with or without them. Giant bowls are available for the equivalent of a few bucks, perfect for hungry stomachs. Many locations are open 24 hours.