Osaka's hidden culinary gems
We round up the best secret culinary gems in the foodie capital of Japan.
- January 2019
Food can be a big part of your travel experience and Osaka is one of the best places to get a taste for authentic local cuisine in Japan. Whether you’re looking to treat yourself at a fine-dining restaurant or you want a quick, but delicious ramen, there’s something for everyone.
Located in a quiet, residential suburb of Kita, this Michelin-star restaurant serves kappo-style omakase kaiseki – a multi-course meal left up to the chef, using seasonal fish and local ingredients. The mystery of lifting the white cloth hanging over the door to walk down the cobblestone path into the warm, eight-seater dining room only enhances how special the whole experience feels.
Quality chocolate is not easy to find in Japan but this specialty shop and café is worth hunting down – just follow your nose to the aromas of sugar and chocolate wafting around the charming area of Karahori, Minami. Housed in a traditional two-storey wooden building, the cocoa haven stocks limited-edition chocolates in flavours such as hot wine and apple. The café’s Theobroma cake made of milk chocolate with orange (kind of like a Jaffa) is not to be missed.
Ganko Ramen Juhachidaime
Head to this locals’ favourite tucked away down a small alley of the lively Namba neighbourhood (in lower Minami) for ramen ordered from a machine. Select perfectly cooked miso or salt ramen – an ideal pairing with fatty pork – and once you’re done slurping it up, you may well be rewarded with a printout of personal Osaka recommendations from the helpful owner.
If you can find it, one of the coolest underground bars in Osaka is hidden behind a tiny door at the end of a dark hallway, which you can identify from a cryptic emblem on the wall. Once you’re inside this eclectic speakeasy in the flashy Shinsaibashi neighbourhood, tell the owner Hiro what type of alcohol you like, whether you like it sweet, savoury, spicy or bitter and he will whip up a top-notch cocktail.
It’s standing room only at this hole in the wall, found down on the basement floor of the Osaka Ekimae Daiichi office building, a short hop from Osaka Station. Make like the local businessmen who come here after work for a few pints of Sapporo and izakaya (informal Japanese pub grub) and try the chicken karaage, beef tataki or calamari – you’ll see why it’s so popular.