Japan is legendary for fantastic cuisine – from sashimi to sushi, ramen to teppenyaki, the one thing you definitely need to indulge in when visiting Japan is the food!
The Japanese take pride in serving up delicious food and presenting it beautifully, so you’re bound to have a good meal almost anywhere you go. Wondering what to eat in Osaka?
On my latest trip to Osaka, I ended up spending most of my money on food. Kansai has developed a palette of its own, unique to its region – there are two must-have local delicacies to try before you leave:
Takoyaki are fried flour balls traditionally containing pieces of Tako, or octopus, but you can sometimes find them with other fillings including ham, cheese and prawns. They’re usually cooked in a special pan, and come topped with fish flakes, mayonnaise, pickled ginger and green onions.
You can find them in Singapore and other countries these days, but they originated in Osaka so it’s something you have to eat when you’re there. I get mine at a store along the busy Dotunburi stretch called Creo-Ru (it’s right opposite the large green Kinryu Ramen dragon!), which had long queues of people waiting to eat their delectable balls of takoyaki… yum!
If you’re ordering from these street stalls, they’re generally served up in a cardboard plate with 2 toothpicks that you can use as mini chopsticks to pop the takoyaki in your mouth. According to my friend, the best way to eat a takoyaki is to eat it fresh and hot and pop the whole thing into your mouth at once. I just managed to fit the ball in my mouth, but do remember to poke a hole or two to let the steam out, or you’ll have a steaming ball in your mouth which is almost impossible to chew!
Okonomiyaki is another traditional Kansai food that you have to eat if you’re in the region. It’s batter with a variety of ingredients that’s freshly grilled like a pancake. There are many different versions of it throughout Japan – ‘Okonomi’ means ‘what you like’ after all!
The traditional Osaka version has yam, batter, cabbage and a whole bunch of toppings. Other popular versions include Negiyaki which is served with a lot of green onions, and Modanyaki which comes with noodles.
I visited Botejyu, a popular restaurant chain that specializes in Okonomiyaki – it had hot teppen plates built into the tables and metal spatulas at each table so so you can cook and slice up the various okonomiyaki for yourself. It’s perfect for dinner if you have a bunch of friends and want to share different flavors, and you should totally eat it with some takoyaki for a properly Osakan meal.
Coming back from Japan is always tough – I usually stay off the local Japanese restaurants for a month or so because nothing can compare to the great cuisine I had in Japan itself…