Osaka – All the Street Food

Osaka Castle

In November 2019, I took my parents to Japan for their first time – and my seventh – over two weeks. This series is to be read as a diary, and serves as a place to showcase the pictures taken and preserve the memories made.

I first visited Osaka eleven years ago. I didn’t like it. Having become accustomed to Kyoto’s zen, Miyajima Island’s beauty and Kanazawa’s tranquillity, Osaka was dishevelled, dirty and second-rate in comparison. My initial visit had me feeling like I had been violently lassoed back to Sydney. The people were rude, there was – cue shock – trash on the streets, and it was all just a little too boisterous. Before you get offended: remember this is all relative. Japan’s standards are high, so Osaka – a fabulous city if anywhere else in the world – took a bit of a hit. Nandeyanen?

You’d think I’d have changed my mind a little, a decade+ on.

Date of trip: 14/Nov/2019 – 28/Nov/2019

This post may contain affiliate links. Purchases made by clicking on an affiliate link may earn a small commission for me, but never at extra cost for you. Please visit the Affiliate Marketing Policy for more information.

All experiences – food, accommodation and activities in this post were independently paid for.

Series Contents

Day 1 – Hiroshima (introduction)Day 2 – Okayama/Kurashiki
Day 3 – OsakaDay 4 – Mount Koya
Day 5 – KyotoDay 6 – Kyoto
Day 7 – ArashiyamaDay 8 – Kyoto
Day 9 – Uji & NaraDay 10 – Hakone
Day 11 – HakoneDay 12-14 – Tokyo

Japan Day 3 – Osaka

Welcome to Osaka. Welcome to people.

And you’d be right. Sure, I may only have spent one day in Osaka – and pretty much just along Dotonbori (its most famous food street) – but it’s what you do with the time that counts.

And that, of course, is to eat.

  • Osaka Takoyaki
  • Osaka Takoyaki
  • Grilling crab legs
  • Grilled snow crab legs
  • Gyoza
  • Osaka roasted chestnuts

We spent most of the day at Dotonbori: the classic symbol of Osaka the world knows. We ate takoyaki – instantly recognisable as the city’s symbol; succulent & sweet grilled crab, toasty chestnuts (lol, thanks mum), juicy gyoza, chewy dango and crunchy melon pan. A surprisingly tasty new entrant was Kobe beef ramen, which ostensibly screamed ‘TOURIST TRAP’, but was the genuine article – a freaking tasty noodle soup that just happened to be served with some Kobe beef. Call it boring, but it was probably the best thing I ate that day; a dish well-deserving of second-slurp status.

  • Kobe beef ramen
  • Kobe beef ramen
  • Dango
  • Dango 3-pack

Rounding out the street eats were a pair of sweet potato & red bean taiyaki. Unlike memories of Dotonbori past where these stores were plentiful, taiyaki was surprisingly difficult to find on this trip (at least, as far as I could see in Dotonbori itself). An unfortunate casualty was the croissant-yaki – a taiyaki made with viennoiserie pastry. RIP.

Red bean & sweet potato taiyaki. I’m not really into these, but it’s assuredly one of those ‘when in Osaka’ kind of things. So be it.

At this point, I have to point out the obvious irony: in my sybaritic quest to eat at all of Japan’s super-hard-to-reserve restaurants meant that I’ve effectively lost touch with the everyday. I don’t even remember the last time I visited an honest-to-god izakaya. And I call myself a foodie. I like to think I redeemed myself ever so slightly in scouring Dotonbori top to bottom revisiting all the classics. But if you disagree, you know where to send the hate mail.

  • 551 Horai Osaka

In further acts of redemption, I did manage to finally get my hands on pork & char siu buns from Horai 551. This bun chain – with stores all over Japan – is incredibly popular, to the point where it’s claimed they’re as good as the ones from China. I’m not even going to try and weigh in – and my Chinese heritage is partly why I never bothered with the place – but I will say that the pork buns (豚饅) did live up to its reputation as a vendor of great pork buns. Mouthwateringly delicious stuff, more or less. On the other hand, I recommend skipping the char siu version. If you’re from China, you’ll know better.

Osaka Castle in all its glory

Despite spending a good chunk of our day at Dotonbori, I still managed to sneak in a visit a to Osaka Castle for the parentals. Given it’s one of Japan’s most stunning, taking the time to get some picture-perfect shots was worth it.

Dinner was a simple curry from an intimate 5-seater curry house/izakaya called Yakumido run by an English-fluent barkeep who quit the corporate high life for something more, shall we say, halcyon. The curry reflected this simplicity – it was quite austere, with little to no meat to speak of. But its flavour was good, and went down well with a beer. In fact, Yakumido seems more akin to a bar where you happen to be able to order curry rather than the other way around. Naturally, the conversations flowed thick and fast, easily being the most ‘interesting’ meal of the trip. As far as there is an ‘interaction with the locals’ criteria, Yakumido hit it out of the park.

The entrance to Fraser Residence Nankai Osaka

Quick note on accommodation: while Osaka has no shortage of luxury stays, they’re all surprisingly far from where you want to be when it comes to treating the city as a food hotspot. In the great compromise between convenience and comfort, Fraser Residence Nankai (affiliate link, but no affiliation with the hotel) was a good choice. It’s one of those ‘it just works’ hotels, with 4 star-level amenities with 5-star cleanliness (though that is most hotels in Japan). I would stay here again when I’m next in the city – you can hold me to that on my next Japan trip!

At this rate, I’m sure it won’t be another eleven years until my next visit! 誤解してしまったよ、大阪が!

This post may contain affiliate links. Purchases made by clicking on an affiliate link may earn a small commission for me, but never at extra cost for you. Please visit the Affiliate Marketing Policy for more information.

All experiences – food, accommodation and activities in this post were independently paid for.

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