If you don’t have any concrete plans on how to explore Osaka, the one thing you need to go when you go there is just to EAT. The Kansai region has a lot of amazing Japanese food and snacks, and despite the fact that Y and I had made zero plans on this trip, we ended up eating quite a lot. Here’s a look at some of the more interesting Osaka food that we ate on this trip.
Osaka is well known for producing some of popular street food that has become famous even outside of Japan. Of course we had to have some Takoyaki, a fried flour ball snack that’s traditionally stuffed with octopus inside. We found a popular Creo-Ru stall in the crowded Dotonburi area and joined the snaking queue to pick up some freshly prepared takoyaki balls.
There were some tables to the side of the stall – our host M declared that the best way to eat Takoyaki was to just pop them whole into your mouth while it’s nice and warm. Let me just remind y’all that Takoyaki retains heat very well, and while it is a delicious way to eat them, also means having to suffer a burnt mouth after that.
Another treat we indulged in was some locally done Okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is essentially a pancake and is apparently done up differently in different parts of Japan. We had it both at Creo-Ru and at Botejyu, a popular Okonomiyaki chain.
Chicken Sashimi… what?!
Yes you read that right, our host M brought us to this little old restaurant that only serves chicken. We had a great chicken don (egg, onions, chicken topping a bowl of rice) and a whole bunch of chicken skewers, from normal meat bits like the breast and wing, to weirder bits like the cartilage and neck.
But the weirdest thing of all is chicken sashimi. Japan is known for its various seafood sashimi, I’ve heard of beef carpaccio, but raw chicken… to be fair the chicken was not completely raw, just barely seared all around, and while I was really apprehensive about putting it in my mouth, it was surprisingly yummy – super fresh and not tasting gross at all despite what you might imagine!
The other things in the dish were chicken liver – very much like foie gras in its creamy texture; and the dark red one was chicken heart. Yes, it looks a lot like meat but it’s really chewy (M here rolls his eyes and says ‘the heart’s a muscle, what were you expecting?’) and a bit icky for me. Still, been there done that!
Tori Shika ???
A Whole Lot of Bull… the good sort!
Our first night in Osaka, M takes us out to a really great restaurant in the Ebisubashi area – I’m pretty sure we would have never walked in here on our own because it’s in off the main shopping stretch and on the 4th level of a skinny building. You take a dinky lift up and it opens up into a dimly lit swanky sort place where we got to sample some of the best beef around at Matsusakagyu Yakiniku.
There’s a grill in the middle of the table, and we ordered the special set, which is a platter with 6 different parts of beef in it with vegetables which you cook for yourself. To show us non-native speakers what we were eating, our waiter thoughtfully provided us with a little paper cheatsheet in English that explained (in typical lyrical slightly nonsensical Japanese style) what parts of the cow we were eating exactly, diagram and all included (check out the menu here!).
This beef is supposed to be a level up on the more famous Kobe beef, and truly it was quite spectacular – I’ve never quite had meat melt in my mouth like that. My favourite one was the Sirloin… getting hungry just thinking about it!
Not cheap though, but definitely worth the indulgence!
Matsusakagyu Yakiniku – Hozenji Hanare
2F, Daruma Bldg, 1-5-24, Namba, Chuo-ku, Osaka-city, 542-0076, JAPAN
Opening Hours: 5pm – 12am (last order 11pm) / 12pm – 3pm (Sat, Sun, Nat Hol)
See all my posts about Osaka and the Kansai region.
Or check out the rest of the posts about other spots in Japan.