Also known as ‘Japan’s kitchen’, Osaka is a foodie’s paradise. The Minami area – which includes the lively Namba, Shinsaibashi and Dotonbori districts – is filled with cheap and delicious eats. From street food to izakayas, you will be surprised and delighted by all that Japan’s kitchen has to offer.
Kuromonya Ramen’s noodles, which are made to order, are cooked to the perfect texture and served with flavourful ingredients, such as pork slices, rich soft-boiled eggs and generous amounts of spring onion. But what makes their ramen truly remarkable is the broth, richly flavoured and homemade at the shop. Their signature Kuromon ramen is a popular choice, as the broth is made with a secret recipe. This tiny local shop only has 10 seats along a counter and is situated at the entrance of Kuromon Market, which is filled with seafood and snacks.
Founded in 1922, Hokkyokusei is reputed to be the pioneer of omu-rice in the Kansai region. Omu-rice, a commonplace yousyoku, or Japanese-style Western dish, is a rice-filled omelette covered in sauce and served with a variety of ingredients. Hokkyokusei has held on to its classic recipe. It was this original form of omu-rice that captured the public’s taste buds and was popularised all over Kansai, Japan and the rest of the world.
This family-run restaurant in Dotonbori serves okonomiyaki, a kind of Japanese pancake that originated in Osaka. Seated at a counter table, you can watch your food grilled right in front of you or you can grill it yourself if you choose a private table on the second floor. The unique taste and texture has made Mizuno a firm favourite among locals. The yam flour okonomiyaki is a house speciality and long-time bestseller.
This amazing little restaurant serves up some of the most delicious sushi in Japan. If you are after a real, authentic and tasty sushi experience, head over to Ichibazushi. The staff is incredibly funny and kindhearted and the prices are reasonable. Here, diners can watch their chef prepare the food, a masterful art. Some may describe the restaurant as a hole in the wall, but for what it lacks in decor, it makes up for in the quality of the food.
This izakaya, or Japanese tavern, offers a quiet respite from the bustle of Namba. Located on the third floor of a building just down the street from Namba Station, Yuzu no Komachi is relaxing and atmospheric, with seating on tatami mats. Traditional Japanese fare, such as sashimi and tempura, are available with a twist; most of the food here is flavoured with yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit. Wash down the beautifully laid-out and delicious dishes with sake, shochu or Japanese draft beer in this unique and ambient Japanese setting.
Located in the historic alleyway Hozenji Yokocho, this small restaurant is a favourite among those who want the authentic okonomiyaki experience. At Hozenji Sanpei, you can grill your okonomiyaki yourself on a teppanyaki (grill) at your table, which is set up as a booth to give you some privacy. The name okonomiyaki literally translates to ‘grill as you like it’ and Hozenji Sanpei delivers exactly that; you can choose custom ingredients for your okonomiyaki, making it a one-of-a-kind experience.
Gintei offers Japanese cuisine that revolves around pork. You may be surprised at the variety of the dishes created around this one ingredient. From pork shabu shabu, to fried tonkatsu, to teppanyaki pork, the possibilities are endless. The classy decor of this underground restaurant enhances the exquisitely presented dishes, allowing you to enjoy your meal in a comfortable environment. Drinks, such as beer and sake, are also available, completing the meal.
Experience shabu shabu, Japan’s hotpot, in this restaurant reminiscent of Imperial Japan. Upon arrival, you will be greeted by staff dressed in kimono. They will then show you to a low table with floor seating. Take in the traditional decor, such as paper screens and wood and bamboo furnishings, before ordering. Hariju serves high-quality beef and other ingredients, which you can cook yourself in the pot of boiling broth on the table. Shabu shabu is an onomatopoeia describing the sound made when dipping the meat into the hot broth, so have fun with this interactive meal.
Founded in the 1960s, this ramen shop is a long-established favourite. Unlike many ramen joints, Ichiran Ramen does not offer variations of the dish. Instead, they focus solely on making their signature tonkotsu ramen. Tonkotsu is a pork broth and Ichiran has their own recipe that is the secret to their success. You can customise the ingredients you want in your ramen. With their homemade noodles and flavourful broth, Ichiran Ramen indeed deserves their long-time fame and success.
One of Japan’s most famous street foods, takoyaki, or octopus balls, is another delicious treat that originated in Osaka. Takohachi is one of the many takoyaki places in Minami, but it stands out due to the great quality of the food and comfortable seating. This popular store has three floors, with a bar counter on the first floor where you can watch takoyaki being made and teppanyaki seats on the upper floors, where you can grill and eat okonomiyaki as well. For a more genuine street food experience, eat your takoyaki on the go as you stroll through Dotonbori and experience vibrant, eccentric Osaka.