Osaka Food Guide Ramen

What to Eat in Osaka – An Osaka Food Guide

In Food Guides, Japan, Videos by Daryl & Mindi Hirsch19 Comments

We ate our way through the Japan’s kitchen to prepare the ultimate Osaka food guide. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it!

We ate our way through Japan's kitchen to prepare the ultimate Osaka food guide. From snack food to ramen to sushi, Osaka has it all!

2foodtrippers osaka food guide 7-5 hz ramen

After eating our way through Southeast Asia for three months, we ended our recent Asia sojourn with a bang by spending 12 days in Osaka. We had high hopes for the city affectionately known as Japan’s kitchen, and we were only disappointed when it was time for us to leave for the next leg of our journey to taste the world.

Let’s just get it out in the open – we love Osaka.  To outsiders of Japan, Osaka lives in the shadow of Megacity Tokyo and historic Kyoto. The food options in these cities are great – some of the best in the world. But Osakans take their food love to an even higher level of obsession with the concept of “kuidaore” where people literally eat until they drop. Yes, food is that important in Osaka and it shouts to be eaten from every street corner vendor and hidden noodle shop.

Many people visit Japan to see the temples, the geishas and the castles. While we do enjoy those sites, we love day-to-day modern Japanese culture even more. From the giant railway complexes littered with 10 story department stores to the tiny ramen shops that are tucked away deep in the drab basements of those very same train stations, modern Japan is a feast that never lets up. Osaka is everything we love about Japan – wonderful people who literally walk you to their favorite restaurant around the block, long shopping streets that never seem to end and dimly lit, restaurant filled alleys.

osaka food guide 2foodtrippers While in Osaka, we adopted the concept of kuidaore. Here, we're slurping ramen with Philadelphia friends Marie and Matt.

While in Osaka, we adopted the concept of kuidaore. Here, we’re slurping ramen with Philadelphia friends Marie and Matt.

With such an intense culinary culture, Osaka is a city with a wide variety of eating options ranging from street food on Dontonbori Street to fine dining at Kappa restaurants. Some eateries serve beef from nearby Kobe while others feature typical Japanese favorites like sushi, ramen and udon. The challenge in Osaka isn’t finding good food but rather deciding where to eat with so many great choices. This is why we have created an Osaka food guide with our favorite Osaka foods. So, without further ado…

2foodtrippers Osaka Food Guide

osaka food guide 2foodtrippers. Although we could happily eat sushi every day, sushi is just the tip of the culinary bounty in Osaka.

Although we could happily eat sushi every day, sushi is just the tip of the culinary bounty in Osaka.

We tackled the tasty challenge of creating our Osaka food guide through advance research and on-the- ground reconnaissance where we scoured the internet, talked to locals (through the extraordinary power of Google Translate) and followed our noses. 36 meals and many snacks later, we are proud to present our Osaka food guide that is perfect for visitors and also has a surprise or two for residents.

Snack Food

osaka food guide 2foodtrippers. In Osaka, snack food is as fun as it is tasty.

In Osaka, snack food is as fun as it is tasty.

Osaka is infamous for its snack food. Streets like Dontonbori and Ota-Road are teeming with vendors selling a myriad of fried treats. While “researching” our Osaka food guide, we found many favorites plus some new treats like the Pombashi rice dog, a hot dog encased in a fried Japanese rice batter. We also discovered that the Japanese love to reinvent treats with fried batter as witnessed by the strange batter fried heads (pictured above).

Takoyaki

2foodtrippers osaka food guide. It's fun to eat takoyaki. The little dough balls stuffed with octupus and topped with katsuobushi flakes literally explode in the mouth with hot, juicy flavor.

It’s fun to eat takoyaki. The little dough balls stuffed with octupus and topped with katsuobushi flakes literally explode in the mouth with hot, juicy flavor.

Osaka first hit our radar as the home of takoyaki, little dough balls stuffed with octopus and topped with savory sauce, mayonnaise, seaweed and katsuobushi flakes. We love popping the steaming hot dumplings into our mouths for the quintessential Osaka snack food experience.  We couldn’t find a way to eat them without scorching our tongues, but that approach seems to be the only way to truly enjoy the gooey, rich flavored yet chewy snack.

Okonomiyaki

2foodtrippers Osaka Food Guide. Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki

A close contender to takoyaki for snack food king of Osaka, okonomiyaki is a savory pancake with cabbage, meat and savory toppings. More like a pizza than a panckake, okonomiyaki is an ideal late night snack after an evening at the bars. There seems to be an okonomiyaki stand on every corner, and, after a healthy amount of drinks, we could think of no better late night snack.

Taikyaki

2foodtrippers Osaka Food Guide. Isn't this Taiyaki cute?

Isn’t this Taiyaki cute?

Fish-shaped and stuffed with fillings like red bean paste and custard, taiyaki are tasty little cakes that are perfect snacks for Osaka residents on the go. The sweet, red bean filling is tasty, but we found the crunchy tail to be the best part.

Okonomiyaki Taiyaki

2foodtrippers Osaka Food Guide. Okonomiyaki Taiyaki

Okonomiyaki Taiyaki

Trust the Japanese to combine two great snack foods into an even greater snack food. The folks at Kogasin have created the Okonomiyaki Taiyaki to create a fish-shaped sandwich with cabbage and meat in the middle. Or, as we like to call them – crazy fun pancakes. If you go to Kogasin, do not miss the tasty bacon and egg flavor that explodes with yolk on the first bite. This is state of the art Osaka snack food at its best.

Tako Tamago

2foodtrippers Osaka Food Guide. These tako tamago lollipops may look like aliens, but they taste like heaven.

These tako tamago lollipops may look like aliens, but they taste like heaven.

On the odd occasion when we eat lollipops in the USA, we choose among flavors like cherry and lemon. In Osaka, however, our lollipop of choice is glazed baby octopus stuffed with quail eggs. We first tried this eclectic version of meat-on-a-stick at the Kuromon Market, and then we tried it again the following week at the same spot. (We liked it just as much the second time.)

Tamago Katusando

2foodtrippers Osaka Food Guide. This simple piece of tamago katusando is an egg sandwich masterpiece.

This simple piece of tamago katusando is an egg sandwich masterpiece.

Considering all the snack food we ate in Osaka, we never expected one of our favorites to be a breaded egg sandwich. Yes, a breaded egg sandwich. Boxed like a gift for your significant other, the inside of the tamago katusando at Kitashin Chisando mystified us with its lushly scrambled egg center surrounded by a crispy crust. As we bit into the savory sandwich, we marveled at how the tiny restaurant could create such an oozy center while achieving a crispy golden brown and delicious crust.

Hananoki is located at 1-21-33 Nipponbashi Chuo-ku Osaka, Japan.

Kogasin in located at 1 Chome-18-13 Tenjinbashi, Kita Ward, Osaka, Japan.

Kitashin Chisando is located at 

Naruto Taiyaki is located at 5-7-1 Tenjinbashi, Kita-ku, Osaka, Japan.

Pombashi Rice Dogs is located on Oto-Road in Osaka, Japan.

Sushi

2foodtrippers Osaka Food Guide. Part of the fun of eating sushi at Maguroya Kurogin is watching the expert sushi master cut and serve the tuna. The other part is actually eating the melt-in-your-mouth fish.

Part of the fun of eating sushi at Maguroya Kurogin is watching the expert sushi master cut and serve the tuna. The other part is actually eating the melt-in-your-mouth fish.

We adored the sushi in Tokyo during our first trip to Japan, and we were pleased to find that the sushi in Osaka is just as good. In some ways, it’s actually better. You see, Osaka sushi is less expensive and more accessible compared to sushi sold in the bigger city to the east. We ate lots of sushi in Osaka, even some served on a conveyor belt, and our favorite Osaka sushi spots were at markets.

Maguroya Kurogin at the central Kurogin market sells some of the world’s freshest tuna. You can witness the fish being sliced all day and served in luscious pink blocks or chirashi style topped with popping good salmon eggs over rice. If you’re lucky and sit at the stand’s small counter, you may even be offered free slices of otoro. Do not turn this offer down.

We first encountered Kizu-Ichiba fish market just south of Namba through a wrong turn while walking to our favorite coffee shop. Once there, it only seemed logical that a down to earth sushi counter like Maruyoshi would sit at the market’s entrance. This is the kind of shop where market employees sit, cigarettes dangling from their mouths, as they enjoy some of the freshest, most affordable sushi in town. Do not miss the gargantuan eel nigiri. Maruyoshi’s fatty, savory eel will make you think twice about what your favorite fish may be on a sushi plate. As we say in the video below, this is two bite sushi even though somehow Daryl seemed to fit the luscious eel rice combo in his mouth in one big bite.

Watch our video to see us eat sushi at both Maguroya Kurogin and Maruyoshi.

Maguroya Kurogin is located at 2-11-1 Nippombashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka 542-0073, Osaka, Japan.

Maruyoshi is located at the Kizu-Ichiba fish market in Osaka, Japan.

Ramen

2foodtrippers Osaka Food Guide. Ramen is available all over the world, but there's something special about the ramen served in Osaka. Ippudo

Ramen is available all over the world, but there’s something special about the ramen served in Osaka.

Ramen in Osaka is like Po Boys in New Orleans. Ask five locals for their favorite spots, and you’ll likely get five different answers. As for us, we have three different answers.

Once you find 7.5 Hz under one of the many nondescript modern buildings in Umeda, you will be rewarded with takaida-kei ramen –  thick, hearty, al dente noodles served in an addictively salty beef broth along with a soft-boiled egg topped with large scallions. Ramen at this quiet counter is serious business, and the energy packed noodles will satisfy your appetite for days.

We developed a love for Hakata Ippudo ramen from the moment we arrived in Osaka, and that love would not wane during the duration of our visit. Sure, Ippudo has locations throughout the world, but Osaka’s Ippudo stands out for its Shiromaru Classic with vermicelli-like al dente noodles served in a rich porky broth and the bolognese-like Karaka with ground pork in a broth so spicy that even Mindi was impressed.

Sometimes you just need ask a local for food advice in Japan. In our case, that question resulted in one of the friendly staffers from nearby Brooklyn Roasting Company guiding us on a two block walk on a brisk Osaka evening to Ryushkin. Once there, we noticed the line snaking from the ramen counter’s front door – always a good sign.  Ryushkin’s tonkotsu ramen is as good one would expect from an highly acclaimed ramen shop, but we STRONGLY recommend the spicy chili potage ramen (it’s #3 on the shop’s ticket machine). This ramen was like chicken pot pie in its consistency but with a chili inflected, spicy twist. If you’re hungry in Namba area, go here first!

Watch our video to see us eat ramen in Osaka.

7.5 Hz is located at 1 Chome-2-2 Umeda, Kita-ku, Ōsaka, Japan.

Hakata Ippudo has locations around the world. We ate at the Namba location at3-1-17 Nanbanaka, Naniwa-ku, Osaka,, Japan.

Ryukishin is located at 2-10-25 Nanbanaka, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Japan.

Udon

2foodtrippers Osaka Food Guide. Look out ramen - the udon at Yamato is a real contender for best soup in Osaka.

Look out ramen – the udon at Yamato is a real contender for best soup in Osaka.

Yamato, a tiny udon shop located at the Kizu-Ichiba fish fish market, serves one thing and serves it well. We first noticed this tiny gem when we were eating sushi at Maruyoshi just next door. Actually, we couldn’t help but notice Yamato because the line outside was literally out the door and down the sidewalk. We understood the line when we went to Yamato for our very last Osaka meal (which we ate before flying to London via Helsinki – the restaurant opens at 5am.) The price for a bowl of udon seems high at around $15 US, but not really considering that it’s big enough to share and is loaded with tempura and perfect strands of udon. The staff doesn’t speak any English, but service is quick and friendly.

Yamato is located at the Kizu-Ichiba fish market in Osaka, Japan.

Yakiniku

2foodtrippers Osaka Food Guide. We enjoyed grilling this slice of Kobe Skirt Steak during our Yakiniku dinner in Osaka.

We enjoyed grilling this slice of Kobe Skirt Steak during our Yakiniku dinner in Osaka.

The word yakiniku literally translates to grilled meat, but that’s just part of the story. This is THE way to eat kobe beef in Osaka. A yakiniku dinner involves grilling meat on a tableside gridiron in a style more typical in Korea. It’s not cheap, but Yakiniku is an essential way to eat in Osaka. It’s also a fun way to dine with a bunch of friends on a Saturday night, which is what we did.

Tasting Tip: Like many types of produce in Japan, lettuce is oddly expensive. Be careful – our plates with a few pieces of lettuce cost the equivalent of $6 each. Ouch!

Tsuruichi is located at 3-3 Shimoajiharacho Tennoji-ku Osaka, Japan.

Fried Food

2foodtrippers Osaka Food Guide. This plate of kushikatsu has a variety of fried meat, seafood and vegetables - all served on sticks.

This plate of kushikatsu has a variety of fried meat, seafood and vegetables – all served on sticks.

Why eat hamburgers in Osaka when you can eat katsu, deep fried chicken cutlet strips served over rice? Katsu is available all over the city; however, most kushikatsu shops are in the Shinsekai neighborhood near the Spa World onsen. If you love meat on a stick, then you’ll love kushikatsu which takes meat on a stick to the next level by frying it and serving it with a dipping sauce.

Dessert

2foodtrippers Osaka Food Guide. Osaka cafes take dessert very seriously. Pictured here is a perfectly executed pineapple tart at Coutume.

Osaka cafes take dessert very seriously. Pictured here is a perfectly executed pineapple tart at Coutume.

With all the savory food in the city, you might think that there’s no room for desserts. Au contraire, mon frere – desserts are easy to find at patisseries, coffee shops like the tony Coutume in the Umeda station and department stores food halls or depachika. With expertly crafted desserts made by world class pastry chefs, a visit to these shops are an essential part of the Osaka eating experience.

Coutume is located at on the lower level of the Umeda station in Osaka, Japan.

Drinks

Cocktails, Beer and Japanese Oddities

2foodtrippers Osaka Food Guide. Snacks and Beer for Two at Mr. Kanso

Snacks and Beer for Two at Mr. Kanso

It’s a known fact that the Japanese love kitsch. This love is visible in anime and manga art, at maid cafes and at Mr. Kanso, a chain of quirky bars that serve a variety of food from cans. Ironically, the beer is served from a tap. Go figure. We were intrigued by the concept but were less enamored by deliciacies like canned scallops. It’s a fun stop during a night out in Osaka, though we recommend sticking with beer.

Mr. Kanso has multiple locations in Japan.

Beer

2foodtrippers Osaka Food Guide.Beer Belly in the Temna neighborhood is serving finely crafted beers along with small plates and grilled food.

Beer Belly in the Temna neighborhood is serving finely crafted beers along with small plates and grilled food.

Lager beer is cheap and plentiful in Osaka. Though it goes well with food like ramen and sushi, sometimes we want something more. Luckily, the Osaka craft beer scene is thriving at happening bars like Beer Belly and Garage 39. Both bars feature great Japanese pub grub (think raw duck tataki and fried camambert cheese) in addition to well crafted beer – a true win-win situation.

Beer Belly is located at 1 Chome-1-31 Tosabori, Nishi Ward, Osaka, Japan.

Garage 39 is located at 2 Chome-5-15 Awajimachi, Chuo Ward, 大阪市中央区 Osaka, Japan.

Coffee

2foodtrippers Osaka food guide. We always seek out good coffee when we travel, and Osaka was no exception. Brooklyn Roasting Company

We always seek out good coffee when we travel, and Osaka was no exception.

One of the first things we do when we arrive in a city is find a good coffee bar, preferably one of the third wave variety. These coffee bars not only serve as our sources of liquid energy but also as work spaces and ways to connect with the community. We discovered Brooklyn Roasting Company on our first full day in Osaka, and we returned most of the following 11 days of our visit. This coffee bar has it all – good coffee, solid pastries, plenty of electrical outlets and friendly people on both sides of the counter.

Interestingly, two of our favorite Osaka experiences happened at this coffee bar. The first was watching a young couple view our YouTube videos and laugh at all the right places. The second was when a friendly barista walked us to Ryukishin (see Ramen above.)

Brooklyn Roasting Company is located at 41-0041 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Japan.

Vending Machine Beverages

2foodtrippers Osaka Food Guide. Typical Osaka Vending Machine

Typical Osaka Vending Machine

There’s no excuse for being thirsty in Osaka because practically every block has at least one vending machine, and 99% of the vending machines sell drinks like iced coffee, juice and soda. With so many vending machines selling the same products, the best vending machine is the closest vending machine.

Vending machines are located all over Osaka.

We thank the Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau for their research assistance during our visit to Osaka. All of our eating experiences were self funded.


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Comments

    1. Author

      In Japan they seem to take creativity to another level, and in Osaka they’re never afraid to experiment. Just like the food at Mr. Kanso, the pancake heads are one of those fun curiosities that make Japanese culture so exciting and interesting.

    1. Author

      Japan is a food cornucopia, and you could liken sushi to a gateway food. We say do not miss the sushi in Japan but we also say do not miss the ramen, the snack food or just about anything.

  1. Oh my! A delectable selection of foods, I think I’ll be quite fat when I’m in Osaka but then would be totally worth it. Of all the foods, I’m most intrigue by the takoyaki and that egg sandwich. Those would be the ones that I’ve got to try first.

    1. Author

      Don’t worry about gaining weight in Osaka. We walked so much during our visit that we didn’t gain any weight despite all of the delicious food. Plus, it helps that the food doesn’t have much butter or cheese.

  2. I see most of them non veg food items.
    A range of dishes exclusively for vegetarians there too would be helpful for many.
    The pictures do ignite hunger pangs!

    1. Author

      We’re not vegetarians, but we’ll keep your feedback in mind for future food guides.

  3. Japanese cuisine is much more subtle than many other Asian cuisines. It’s great because the food is generally pretty healthy too. Love the photos guys; you make everything look so appetising!

    1. Author

      You’ve hit the nail on the head on why Japanese cuisine is one of favorites. As much as we love big flavors, Japanese food is perfection without any tricks or gimmicks. Also, thanks so much for your kind comments on our photography!

    1. Author

      We walked a lot in Osaka to make up for eating so much great food. Luckily, there are great healthy options like sushi and ramen, though the fried street food is always a temptation.

  4. I don’t really like food, I’m more of a McDonald’s kind of girl, but seeing all this kind of make me hungry. Only the weird heads don’t, the scare the **** out of me.

    1. Author

      If you like fast food, then Osaka is the city for you! In addition to the wonderful local fast food, Osaka also has plenty of McDonalds and KFC locations, though we didn’t eat at any of those during our visit.

  5. I love ramen, but I’ve never been to japan. Did you try any of the Ramen in London while you were here? Is it much different? And I really like how the food is so visual – especially those batter heads!

    1. Author

      You definitely need to get to Japan! As for us, we did not eat any ramen in London. We’re hoping to spend more time in London in 2017, so we’ll be sure to try some then.

  6. I’m feeling hungry before opening this post and now I’m craving for Japanese Food! I super love your Osaka food guide. I love Osaka, where people are so humble, The best place for good food and good times.

    Your photo and description of Tamago Katusando is so good that I wish I have it right now! Yummy Post!

  7. There is seriously so much good food in Japan. I spent 10 days in Tokyo and didn’t get to make Osaka so you have convinced me to go now. Ramen and Udon are my favourite foods ever!

    1. Author

      We also missed Osaka on our first Japan trip. We loved Tokyo and Kyoto, but Osaka is the Japanese city we love the most.

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