Osaka is my home-town!! It's the second biggest city in Japan with a population of 8.5 million people yet one that is often overlooked by overseas tourists. So I am here to convince you to go and visit my amazing town.
Firstly, Osaka people are known to be funnier, more open and casual (and perhaps nicer ;) than the Tokyo bunch. So you might make new friends albeit the lanugage barrier!
Secondly, Osaka is known to Japanese people as the culinary's mecca. So this post is going to be all about the food that's famous in Osaka and where you should go and try them!
Osaka's famous street food!
Okonomiyaki - a pancake-like dish where you can add your favorite toppings in between fried cabbage. To eat Okonomiyaki, I have been going to Fukutaro ever since I was a kid. It's where the locals go in the heart of Osaka.
Takoyaki - octopus ball - No Japanese would ever visit Osaka without eating a takoyaki! it's Osaka's quintessential street snack . I go to Takoyaki-kun but be aware, there will be a queue but the wait is definitely worth it!
Kappo - Osaka way of eating Japanese food
The word literally means "cutting and cooking", and it's usually when chef prepares small dishes (sophisticated version of Izakaya dishes). Kappo restaurants always has an open-kitchen surrounded by a counter so you can enjoy your food being prepared. The chefs will pass the food directly over to you, making the overall experience much more casual than Kaiseki.
Kigawa is probably one of the oldest and reputable Kappo restaurant, tacked in the back-alley of Namba. It's high-end and sophisticated yet it somehow carries a casual feel thanks to the kind chef Kigawa!
Tenda is not worldly famous like Kigawa and therefore more affordable, but in my opinion it's quality is better than Kigawa > < It's ever-changing menu provides freshest ingredient every month and it's absolutely delicious. Tacked away in the back-street in my hood Tennoji, if you go to Tenda, you will surely have an amazing experience. One thing to note is that they don't get foreigners often like Kigawa do so you might have to tackle with language barrier!
Kushikatsu - Fried Sticks
Born in Osaka, this is a very popular dish in Osaka. It is basically a bunch of vegetables and even meats, all skewered, coated in a light batter, and deep fried until golden brown. Sounds unhealthy right? Not if you go where I go ;) Ueshima! There is no menu, and the skewers just come out at chef's command so don't worry about language here! From my experience, the price is always the same no matter how much you eat but according to this blogger, it's seems to differ! anyhow.. if you want to enjoy absolutely mind-blowing Kushikatsu, Ueshima will fulfill you!
Osaka's famous for Yakiniku (BBQ Beef)
It's Korean food in origin and seeing that there are many Koreans living in Osaka, it has become a popular dish in Osaka.
Tsuruichi founded in 1948 is an institution of Yakiniku restaurants in Osaka. Located right next to Korean town, you will certainly be able to enjoy the authentic taste of Yakiniku.
Ogawatei Torachan is slightly more sophisticated than other Yakiniku restaurants. Purchased through the owner's strong personal connection, the quality of the beef is unbeatable, and its exquisite softness will bring anyone the ultimate satisfaction.
Japan's soul food - Udon
While it didn't originate in Osaka, udon is a very popular dish in Osaka - unlike in Tokyo where udon is rarely found!
Hagakure Umeda is the super quick, super yummy udon restaurant found in the basement of a building in Umeda. There is counter only and it will be crowded with Japanese salary men at lunch time.
Tsurutontan - is a famous chain that exists all over Japan so if you fancy trying Udon, check it out. But if you are in Osaka, go to the original Tsurutontan found in Suemoncho.
I could go on and on forever about restaurants specializing in Osaka food but here are some to get you started :)