You cannot miss these classic eats in Osaka

Known as “the nation’s kitchen”, this Japanese city boasts 96 Michelin-starred restaurants as well as countless cheap and cheerful gems to keep you well-fed.

Dotonburi Street is a must-visit for classic Japanese bites.
  • Katie Lockhart
  • February 2019

When visiting Japan, you’ll likely be faced with many new foods that you’ve never heard of but that could change your tastebuds forever. Many of these culinary delights were born in Osaka opens in new window. We make eating your way through this great city easy with this list of what dishes to try and where – just bring your appetite.

Sunshine Cafe

This café has been cranking out fluffy, eggy Japanese-style pancakes for decades. Located in a basement near Umeda Station in Kita, Sunshine opens in new window has become a no-frills breakfast institution (with great coffee).

The Sunshine Cafe has perfect pancakes and great coffee
The Sunshine Cafe has perfect pancakes and great coffee.

Chigusa

Specialising in okonomiyaki – savoury pancakes filled with cabbage, pork, tempura scraps and topped with mayo, bonito flakes, seaweed and deliciously sweet sauce – this Kita hotspot tucked away in a narrow side street is loved by locals and well off the typical tourist trail. The food is freshly cooked in front of you and super authentic.

You can add your favourite fillings to your Okonomiyaki.
You can add your favourite fillings to your Okonomiyaki.

Dotonbori Akaoni

Takoyaki is another insanely popular Osaka creation – a wheat flour ball filled with octopus and spring onion, topped with mayo, takoyaki sauce and bonito flakes. This one-dish wonder counter in the heart of lively Dotonbori has a red devil standing guard outside and was awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand (for eateries that offer good quality, good value food). The secret to their gastronomic success is probably the use of raw octopus instead of boiled (which is standard for this dish) in all their piping hot, made-to-order takoyaki.

Takoyaki is Osaka's essential finger food
Takoyaki is Osaka's essential finger food.

Zuboraya

Fugu, or blowfish, is one of Japan’s most dangerous foods and if prepared incorrectly it could mean a trip to the hospital. But at Zuboraya – the premier place in Dontonbori for expertly cut fugu since 1920 – you’re in safe hands. Order the fish as sashimi or try a multi-course menu with fugu cooked several different ways – best enjoyed sitting crossed-legged on tatami floor mats.

The famous Zuboraya chain can be spotted by their fugu lanterns
The famous Zuboraya chain can be spotted by their fugu lanterns.

Kushikatsu Daruma.

The Japanese dish kushikatsu – deep-fried skewered meat and vegetables, usually served with a communal dipping sauce – was born right here in the gritty Shinsekai neighborhood of Minami. You can find them on just about every street corner here but this chain, dating back to 1929, is one of the most famous. They also do mean a deep-fried cheese (mmm!). Whatever you do, don’t double dip – it’s a sanitary rule strictly enforced by the staff.