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“Kuidaore” is a popular Japanese proverb that essentially means “eat until you drop”. It isn’t hard to see how this saying became an Osakan way of life as you wander through the city streets, teeming with countless restaurants, eateries and markets. From udon to unagi, there are gourmet options galore. We guarantee that “kuidaore” will soon become the mantra of your trip (and of your life).
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.
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.
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.
4. 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.
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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
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