Where to Eat in Osaka, Japan

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Osaka Central Fish Market

Osaka, Japan

Often labelled the ‘alternative to Tsukiji’, Osaka’s fish market goes through the same early morning processes and tuna auctions as its Tokyo counterpart. Make sure to arrive early – by 04:30am – to catch the tuna auction in action. Surrounding the market are several restaurants serving fresh fish of the day on a bed of rice. Endo Sushi is one of the longest running of the bunch, having opened in 1907 and started a trend for serving slices of sashimi on warm balls of plump rice as a more casual form of nigiri.

Address

1-1-86 Noda Fukushima-Ku Osaka 553-0005

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Okonomiyaki Kiji

Osaka, Japan

The walls of this basement restaurant are littered with tiny post-it notes thanking the chefs for an excellent meal. Entirely unpretentious and certainly not what comes to mind when picturing one of the best restaurants in a city of this size, Kiji is a warm and welcome reminder that good food doesn’t need shiny surrounds to be spectacular. Despite its reputation, the chefs are happy to talk, and the price range is almost unfathomable to most UK visitors – it’s just 800 yen (around £6) for a full okonomiyaki. The menu offers a range of flavours – squid, pork, beef and, for hungry mouths, a mix of all three. The restaurant now has Michelin Bib Gourmand rating status, an impressive feat for a humble restaurant serving simple street-food fare.

Address

1-1-90 Oyodonaka Kita Ward Osaka 531-0076

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Hariju Dotonbori

Osaka, Japan

Hariju is over 100 years old and sits right in the heart of Osaka’s lively Dotonbori district, serving sukiyaki and shabu shabu with prime cuts of meat in traditional Japanese surroundings. Staff members wearing kimono help out with this hands-on dining style, which can be daunting to tackle for first timers as different parts of the meal require differing cooking times. While shabu shabu is served in a soup rather like a hot pot, sukiyaki involves cooking meat in a shallow pot with a sweet soy sauce, which is then typically dipped in raw egg and eaten with rice. Of the two, sukiyaki has a more robust flavour. Prices are around 7,000 yen – approximately £54 – per person and menus are offered in English.

Address

1-9-17 Dotombori Chuo-ku Osaka 542-0071

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Takoya Dotonbori Kukuru

Osaka, Japan

Street-side takoyaki stalls and tiny shops serving paper plates of this popular dish abound in Osaka – even in the suburbs. For a particularly popular spot, Takoya Dotonbori Kukuru is hard to miss, with life-like purple octopus tentacles crawling up the walls of the stand. A typical serving is around six batter balls, so it’s more of a filling snack than a full dining experience. Queues are almost always extensive, but die-down quickly as soon as the next fresh batch of takoyaki is ready to be served (make sure not to bite into a ball that is served fresh off the machine – the insides are piping hot). The stall is open Monday to Friday from 12:00-23:00.

Address

1-10-5 Dotonbori Chuo-ku Osaka-shi 542-0071

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Kushikatsu Bon Kitashinchi

Osaka, Japan

Another Osaka speciality, kushikatsu is deep-fried skewers of fish, meat or veggies. Bon – with its creative dishes and high-end ingredients – is a special take on the kushikatsu scene. Set menus feature skewers of king crab, asparagus and tender wagyu beef, all served a batter so light there are no post-dinner portions of guilt or gut ache afterwards. Dip the skewers in the sauces provided for an explosion of flavour, crunch and tender insides. The restaurant has a Michelin star, so the menus don’t come cheap, but it’s worth it for those looking for a memorable meal to end a holiday.

Address

1-3-16 Dojima Kita-Ku B1 Dojima Merry Center Osaka 530-0003

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Yoshitora

Although Ross Geller has us convinced that “unagi” is a karate term for “a state of total awareness”, Yoshitora proves otherwise. Down a private alley in the Honmachi district, Yoshitora has been serving the best unagi – which is actually freshwater eel – in the city since 1922. Perch on conventional Japanese floor seats and immerse yourself in a world of delectable Osakan fine dining.

Address

1 Chome-6-6 Bingomachi, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 541-0051, Japan

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Yonemasu

Simple, wooden decor and delicate design place further focus on the restaurant’s painstakingly prepared and exquisitely presented kaiseki dishes. A short walk from Fukushima Station, book well in advance; since being awarded a first Michelin star, Yonemasu has quickly become one of the hardest places to get a table in Osaka.

Address

Japan, 〒531-0075 Osaka, Kita Ward, Oyodominami, 1 Chome−9−16 山彦ビル 1F

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Honkogetsu

Down a cobblestoned alley in central Osaka, this three-storey kaiseki (a traditional multi-course dinner) restaurant offers classically delicious – albeit rather expensive – food. Sit at the wooden bar made from a 600-year-old Japanese cedar tree, and watch as Michelin-starred masterpieces are created in front of you. Ask for a table facing the garden for peaceful views to accompany an evening of elegance.

Address

1 Chome-7-11 Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0071, Japan

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Moeyo Mensuke

With queues often extending round the block, this Fukushima restaurant is hailed as the best ramen restaurant in the city. Classically trained chefs create a menu of mouth-watering ramen recipes, all featuring Moeyo Mensuke’s famous noodles. Order the most-popular dish on the menu; a Wakayama-Prefecture-inspired duck ramen.

Address

5 Chome-12-21 Fukushima, Fukushima Ward, Osaka, 553-0003, Japan

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Houba

Home to the largest Korean neighbourhood in Japan, Osaka’s top food picks wouldn’t be complete without Houba. Run by a mother and son duo, this Korean restaurant is known for its family atmosphere and unusual culinary fusions. Dishes of traditional Korean-fried chicken and barbecue meats are prepared with Italian culinary techniques; a winning combination according to the Michelin Guide, who awarded the restaurant two stars. Wash down your meal with the house-brewed, Korean rice wine.

Address

Japan, 〒530-0004 Osaka, Kita Ward, Dojimahama, 1 Chome−2−1 2F

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Naniwa Kappo Kigawa

Kigawa is a sanctum in the bustling Namba district. With a history stretching back 50 years, visit to immerse yourself in Japanese tradition and culture. Famous for its kappo (cut and cook) cuisine, choose the omakase option for a carefully curated selection of dishes chosen by the chef.

Address

1 Chome-7-7 Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0071, Japan

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Shin-Umeda Shokudogai

If you can’t make up your mind which of Osaka’s many restaurants to go to, this is the place for you. Chock-a-block with over 100 cheap eateries, weave your way through labyrinthine passages and snaking corridors to explore a wide variety of gourmet options. From okonomiyaki (Japanese savoury pancakes) to izakaya (informal Japanese bars), this two-storey food market is the perfect place to taste-tester as much Japanese cuisine as you can stomach.

Address

9-26 Kakudacho, Kita Ward, Osaka, 530-0017, Japan

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Sushitokoro Jinsei

Traditional decor and old cultural waiting customs make for a memorable experience before you’ve even tried the food. Fill into the small counter seats to watch your sushi being made, before eating your bodyweight in temaki, uramaki and nigiri. Make sure to bring a large wad of yen – this not-cheap restaurant doesn’t take credit cards.

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Osaka Osake Dining Tsugumi

When you’ve eaten your fill of sashimi, head to Kyobashi for yakitori. Here, chicken is sourced daily and grilled, fried or barbecued to succulent perfection. Refined interiors reflect the meticulous dedication with which dishes are created here. Turning street food style food into elevated dishes, you won’t be left peckish after an evening here.

Address

Japan, 〒534-0024 Osaka, Miyakojima Ward, Higashinodamachi, 2 Chome−2−20 永井ビル 2F