If you’re headed to Osaka for the first time, it can be overwhelming with the sheer number of food options to choose from. Besides takoyaki and okonomiyaki, there are countless delicious treats to check out during your visit. Here’s a list of tried and tested food spots you definitely have to give a go, from someone who’s been to Japan a little too many times.
Tonkatsu lovers, you’ll want to note this spot down.
Daiki is a cosy little spot that specialises in tonkatsu. The pork is deep-fried in salad oil, providing a light crispiness, whilst the pork, from Kagoshima, retains a juiciness to it. The homemade mustard sauce pairs delightfully with the meat, as does the fluffy rice.
In the words of the table next to me, this dish was truly “umai” (delicious).
Go early to avoid disappointment.
This spot is popular amongst both locals and tourists for its affordable, high-quality sushi. Be prepared to queue, but trust me, the wait is worth it. A pair of salmon nigiri set me back a mere ¥350 (SG$3.50 at the time of writing), while otoro (fatty tuna) was just ¥800 (SG$8)!
In fashion true to an authentic, Japanese-style restaurant, you order over the counter and the chefs will prepare your sushi right before your eyes. A loud “sumimasen” (excuse me) may at times be necessary to get their attention.
Sure, it’s a little chaotic, but with these prices and the quality, I’m not complaining. English menus are available upon request.
My own hidden-gem discovery!
This little shop is hidden in the market not far from the main street of Dotonburi. On offer here is yakimochi, a sort of pan-grilled mochi that is simply addictive. In fact, I returned here thrice in three days, and I’m not usually the sort to go back to the same spot twice.
It has a crisp, slightly crackly exterior, but a warm, gooey centre featuring a choke full of red bean paste.
In all fairness, Ichiran Ramen is delicious, but when in the Nation’s Kitchen, we can do a little better than that.
The one at Mugito Mensuke checks all the boxes when it comes to what I’m looking for in a good katsuobushi ramen. The broth is multi-layered: at one point, the umami flavours of the katsuobushi shine through, and at another, a tinge of yuzu comes into play.
Whatever it is, the soup is clear, comforting, and perfect for a cold winter’s day. I especially enjoyed the chashu, which arrived in three varying cuts.
The machine is all in Japanese, but just look out for these characters: “特製蔵出し醤油そば” for the special katsuobushi ramen.
Green Tea & Sweets CAFE Osaka Chakai
Matcha fanatics, you can’t miss this dessert spot.
Tucked away in Tengachaya, Osaka Chakai specialises in all things matcha. However, unlike commercialised spots, the wait time here is on the longer side. This is because its matcha is only ground upon order, ensuring that it’s as fresh as fresh can be. Don’t miss out on the amazing matcha-infused desserts here as well.
Go for the Kanmi (Sweets) Grande, an all-in-one combination of the cafe’s best-selling desserts — a silky matcha soft serve ice cream, a panna cotta (made with green tea or roasted tea) or jelly (Japanese grapefruit and green tea), and a green tea daifuku mochi that’s served to first-class passengers on all of Japan Airlines’ domestic flights.
If you’re getting some matcha, to complete the experience, you’ll be allowed to choose your cup or chawan to enjoy it in, which is a cute touch.
Gyukatsu is basically tonkatsu but with steak inside, and it’s pretty darn delicious.
The name Motomura is synonymous with gyukatsu – everyone knows that it is the spot to have gyukatsu. If you’re not a fan of rare meat, don’t sweat it. Each set has a personal stone grill to cook it to your desired doneness.
The meat simply melts in your mouth, and the thin breading adds a dimension of texture to it as well. All in all, it’s worth the hype and definitely worth a visit.