Osaka is not only great for shopping, bars and sightseeing, it also houses many great foods! In fact it is so well known for its cuisine that it has earned the title of "Japan’s Kitchen"! With both savoury and sweet foods this city caters for all sorts of diners, so if you’re headed to Osaka here are the top ten foods that you must try whilst there...
This is arguably the most iconic and best known food originating from Osaka. Takoyaki is street food at its best and can be found literally all over Osaka, so there’s no excuse not to try it! Essentially it is as the Japanese name suggests: Octopus (Tako) Grilled (Yaki), but in more detail Takoyaki is battered balls full of octopus fried on a grill and then served with delicious toppings like Takoyaki sauce, Japanese Mayo, green onions, dried seaweed, katsuobushi, crispy tempura and sometimes more! As I said before Takoyaki can be found anywhere and you have the choice of more upmarket places or street food stalls.
Kushikatsu is one of my absolute favs, so much so that I would say if you don’t try any of the others you must at least try this one! Kushikatsu is similar to regular Katsu in that it is fried and battered. Unlike Katsu though it is served on skewers (Kushi) and you have many varieties of foods. The most popular are meats and vegetables, however in some places you can also find more exotic choices! The skewers are also served with the super tasty tonkatsu sauce, nice and ready for dipping!
This is another popular dish and whilst it is famous in Osaka, its origins are from Korea (although this is sometimes disputed!). Yakiniku, like Takoyaki, is basically as the name states: grilled (Yaki) meat (Niku). Referred to as the “Japanese Barbeque” it is strips of meat (normally beef or pork) and vegetables grilled on your own personal table grill! Delicious!
If you haven’t heard of Okonomiyaki then you’ve really been missing out! Along with Takoyaki this is one of Osaka’s more famous dishes. It is often referred to as Japan’s answer to pizza, although in my opinion it’s less like pizza and more like a large savoury pancake with lots of fillings. The main ingredients are batter, eggs, shredded cabbage, nagaimo (mountain yam), which can then include seafood, vegetables, meat, cheese etc. Okonomiyaki comes with a similar sauce to Takoyaki and Japanese mayonnaise, making for a wonderful blend of flavours!
Most people have heard of Sushi but Oshizushi is the Osaka speciality of pressed sushi! For this dish a wooden mould (Oshibako) is used to form a block shaped piece of sushi, which is then cut into pieces ready to eat. Unlike regular sushi raw fish is never used, so if you like the idea of sushi but not raw fish, this could be something for you!
6. Rikuro Ojisan Cheesecake
Rikuro Ojisan, a chain so famous that people come to Osaka just for this ever so special cheesecake! The cheesecake is slightly different in that it is extremely light and fluffy in texture and also features raisins at the bottom of the cake which adds much more flavour. Unfortunately you cannot buy individual slices so it’s better for sharing, however I would argue that it tastes good enough to justify having one to yourself!!
7. Kitsune Udon
Kitsune Udon is available nationwide in Japan but its origin is supposedly from Osaka, so why not try it in its so called birthplace! As you would expect from the name the dish uses thick Udon noodles and is served with a piece of aburaage (fried tofu sheets seasoned in soy sauce and sugar) in a delicious dashi hot soup. This dish is simple but delicious, so a great try for those who are a little fussier!
This is another one for those with a sweet tooth! Whilst this is not strictly Osaka only based it can still be found in the city, and is a delicious snack that tackles those sweet cravings. Taiyaki is a pastry made in the shape of a fish, but don’t be fooled, it’s not filled with fish but an array of sweet fillings like custard, anko (Japanese bean paste), cream etc. I personally only tried it for the first time this year, and once I did I regretted not trying it sooner!
For me Teppanyaki is great as there is something for everyone! Another meal that features “yaki”, Teppanyaki is where the chef cooks your selected food in front of you on a large iron plate. That means you get nice fresh food and a bit of a show too! There is also often a wide range of meat, vegetables, seafood, noodles and others to choose from, which is precisely why it’s good for everyone!
The final of the 10 must try foods in Osaka is Yakitori. This is not a dish exclusive to Osaka, but it is still a dish worth trying (hence it being in this list)! Since there have been quite a few dishes already mentioned that feature the word “yaki” you probably know by now that this dish is another one that involves grilling! Yakitori is skewered chicken grilled on a charcoal fire (kind of similar to what is known as a kebab in the West). Yakitori places offer you a selection of chicken, from chicken breast to chicken hearts, all grilled and pretty much all delicious!