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Osaka is known all over Japan, and indeed the world, as the Kitchen of Japan (tenka no daidokoro). In fact many regard Osaka as the kitchen of the world. In that light, it is going to be hard to recommend you specific places to eat, so rather, we will guide you on the best places to explore yourself and find great food! Having said that, we have included a few of our favourite spots as well. You will soon realise the sheer quantity of amazing places to eat and how Japan truly is a culture of food. Osaka is an ambassador of Japan's food culture.
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Stroll around the Shinsekai neighbourhood.
The Shinsekai area has, in the past, had a bad reputation as a seedy dodgy area with gangsters and escorts etc. Japan is one of the safest countries in the world but people would say that some areas of Japan were less safe - places like Shinsekai. We disagree entirely - it's great fun! Shinsekai is fantastic. It has a great atmosphere, bustling izakaya bars and restaurants and eateries. In our opinion, it is one of the best places to come and eat in the evening due to the variety and colour of all the restaurants and izakaya. Take a stroll around the neighbourhood. Every Time we have been here, we have found great, cheap, fun and lively places to eat and chill with friends. In fact, in my opinion, the best food is here in Shinsekai. It's both cheap, cheerful, delicious and fundamentally 'Osaka style', which is all of the above!
►Originally the neighbourhood was designed and laid out to be like a mixture of New York and Paris. After world war 2, development and investment fell short in the area and it became one of the poorest areas of Osaka. However, due to its unique culture and history, the area flourished from local tourism and the reputation for great cheap food and a lively atmosphere. As a result, we think it's a great place to come and explore for food!
Fun Izakaya restaurants with noise and bustle entice you. Notice the red lanterns. This is a sign that the place serves alcohol.
As mentioned in the ‘What to do in Osaka’ page, the various markets and arcades in Osaka are a great place to find amazing Japanese food. These arcades and markets are where the locals, chefs and restaurateurs come to get really good fresh produce, and so you will also find great little restaurants and street food there. The main ones we recommend you visit are Kuromon Ichiba market and Doguyasuji market.
Kuromon Ichiba is probably the most famous and indeed our favourite one. You’ll find so much great food there that you will leave will a full belly, and your wallet won't take a big hit!
Sometimes you meet people who are really passionate about something. So much so that they become what they are passionate about. The chef and owner of Anys Burger is one of those people. He has decorated his restaurant with all ’60s, ’70s and '80s American pop culture stuff you can think of. It's dusty, rusty, fun and fascinating. He spends half his life cooking incredible burgers, and the other riding waves on his surfboard. Go get a burger, and chat to him about his life philosophy. The burgers are incredible too!
►No need to book, just turn up for lunch or dinner.
American pop culture lay out. He built this all himself! It's also my Japanese cousins (pictured) favourite spot!
A tiny little counter Ramen shop where you have to select what you want on a vending machine then hand the ticket over to one of the chefs, you will definitely have to queue outside for 10/20 mins or so. But the wait is worth it, it’s probably the best ramen we have had so far. The broth is thick and tasty, the men(noodles) are firm but not too firm and the pork is delicious. We would DEFO recommend coming here if you are a fan of Ramen.
A great conveyor belt sushi joint in Minamisenba. The sushi is delicious and really cheap (around 140 yen per plate). If you fancy a cheap fun sushi place, check this out.
Takoyaki is one of Japan's national favourite snacks. Little fried dough balls with a small piece of octopus leg in it. They are delicious, cheap and a perfect warm snack. Osaka is famous for its Takoyaki, and in my opinion, Takoyaki Yamachan in Abeno Suji is the best. The very definition of great Japanese street food, and the epitome of Osaka Takoyaki... You need to check it out!
Shinsaibashi Suji is a huge underground arcade/walkway with loads of fashion shops and little restaurants. If you crave a bit of Matcha, check out Matcha house. It's basically Matcha porn. Everything from Matcha soft cream to Matcha Tiramisu. You’re welcome.
Fun, casual and tasty Sushi restaurant located right on the Dotonbori Canal. It is a counter sushi restaurant but there are tables available. Reasonably priced sushi. A lot of Sushi in Japan is expensive and very very high quality, this place is reasonable but still good. No need to book, just stroll in.
If you don't already know, Izakaya is basically evening drinking, eating and chilling. You can tell if a place is an Izakaya by the red lanterns outside, the red faces of the customers inside and the loud cheerful buzz alongside the smokey and delicious aroma coming from inside.
A really fun Izakaya located in Tenjinbashi, a fun food district in central Osaka. The theme of this Izakaya is seafood (as with most things in Osaka). They serve great sashimi, deep fried seafoods and everything between. It’s all super fresh. Order a beer, and enjoy! Open from 11:30am until 4am. So you can come here for lunch too.
►No need to book, just turn up!
A delicious and great fun place to go. It is renowned by the locals and a great place to Izakaya. It has two floors, the ground floor of which is open and bustling. The main theme here is Okonomiyaki (hot plate savoury pancakes and yakisoba noodles) but as its Osaka, it also has Takoyaki (puff balls with octopus inside). Takoyaki is famously good in Osaka. Reasonably priced.
One of my favourite places in Shinsekai. This place is open 24 hours and serves great Kushikatsu. Kushikatsu is deep fried skewered veggies and meat. And this place serves it amazingly, and its 24 hours. Enough said. Get your drunk/hungover ass in there and enjoy! Reasonably priced.
Torikizoku is a well know chain of cheap but fun Yakitori (grilled chicken skewers). They are cheap, fun, tasty and a great place to get food and drinks before going out. Every dish is around 280 yen, including the drinks, so it’s a great place to check out. There is one that actually looks onto the Dotonbori Canal, It is on the 3rd floor of a building, you’ll see it when you get the elevators. Access is on the Street behind.
It's on the third floor of this building, the entrance is on the other side of the building and Canal.
Tsurikichi is a 24-hour Izakaya/restaurant. The restaurant is laid out like a local port, with a large galleon in the middle, like something out of Pirates of the Caribbean. There are waterways and canals running through the restaurant, and the great thing about this restaurant is that you fish your own food! There are fishing rods with bait all around the restaurant. Simply pick one up and start fishing. They have a big selection of fish, seafood, shrimps, lobsters etc. When you catch them, the staff will then take it away and cook it in any way you want. The prices of the fish/seafood are laid out clearly around the restaurant. This place also serves alcohol, and did we mention it’s 24/7…winning!
►No need to book, just turn up. If we haven't mentioned it before... it's 24 hours!
Nice little Izakaya with seafood as the main theme. The staff here are not very polite which is strange for Japan, but the food makes up for it. Great atmosphere, great food and beer, and you kinda feel like you're on a ship or a little eatery for local sailors and fishermen!
A fantastic little Izakaya in the heart of Dotonbori. This place defines the awesome atmosphere that I absolutely Love about Japan and indeed Osaka. It's a typical tiny, smokey, loud and buzzing Izakaya. It has limited seats (around 8 or 9 on the counter and a small table at the end) it has a very personal feel. As we walked in we were immediately treated by the locals who were so interested in us and so surprised that we could speak Japanese! This place is a Yakitori shop so it's all grilled chicken on skewers, with other dishes too. Reasonably priced.