When it comes to Osaka’s must-try foods, these classic Japanese dishes should be on everyone’s list.
Osaka sits on the southern coast of Japan, wrapping around the body of water known as Osaka Bay. Its proximity to water as well as its general geography have made it a popular destination, helped by the fact that it is not that far from Kyoto. Throughout Japan, each region has its own cuisine, but none is as classic to that of the country’s roots as that which can be found in Osaka.
For that reason, it’s a favorite of many traveling food lovers, and this guide will help everyone discover the beautiful flavors of such an amazing beach town.
About traditional Osaka cuisine
Osaka is only slightly smaller than Tokyo, but despite its size, the city still managed to retain its local vibe. Dishes found throughout Osaka are reminiscent of its history, as well as its access to local ingredients, the most important being its seafood. ways in Osaka dishes. Additionally, beef dishes and ramen are also staples of Osaka cuisine and can be found in many different varieties around the city. Even the street food takes advantage of traditional flavors, and the scent that wafts through each block is enough to make a hungry traveler’s stomach growl.
With influences from the sea as well as the land and centuries of cooking techniques that have been passed down, it’s easy to see why Osaka has become something of a foodie capital in Japan.
Sushi, sashimi and seafood dishes
One of the most important foods in all of Japan is sushi, which can be found alongside sashimi in most restaurants. Osaka is home to the famous conveyor belt sushi, officially known as kaiten-sushi restaurant. For those new to sushi in Japan, it’s a great way to try a bit of everything without feeling overwhelmed at the sight of an extensive menu. It’s also fast, efficient, and generally pretty self-explanatory when it comes to meal etiquette.
Those looking for a more private and intimate experience might consider visiting Osaka’s local food markets. These house many iconic meals, but one of the most popular is boxed sushi, officially known as hako-sushi in Japan. It’s a quick and easy way to try sushi without going to a restaurant for those pressed for time.
Speaking of food markets, Osaka is also home to plenty of open-air markets lined with street vendors. Another signature dish of Osaka, and Japan in general, is Takoyaki, which is fried octopus balls. These are a staple when visiting Osaka and consist of a pancake batter similar to okonomiyaki, with chunks of fried octopus mixed in.
Japan has its own style of barbecue and it’s something that Osaka, in particular, is also known for. This is where travelers will find cuts of meat like Kobe, considered one of the best types of beef in the world. Visitors will want to be on the lookout for a yakiniku restaurant that has Japanese barbecues. There, diners are tasked with grilling their own cuts of meat on a small charcoal grill. The flavor from the grill combined with the beautiful flavors of perfectly marbled Japanese meat cannot be beat. Meat-loving world travelers really haven’t lived before having an experience like this!
In addition to wagyu Kobe beef, diners will also find a selection of different cuts of meat, as well as local vegetables that can also be grilled. Traditionally, the only toppings for grilled meat are salt, shoyu, and sometimes wasabi. It’s a great way for travelers to expand their palate, as many parts of the animal are used when it comes to types of meat for Japanese barbecue.
While food in Japan is by no means limited to sushi and ramen, these two dishes have slowly become the country’s most iconic. Osaka has its own version of the ramen dish that can be found in different ways all over the city. It may be a rite of passage to try ramen in Tokyo, but it is truly a different experience when trying Osaka ramen.
For the most part, the ramen one will find in Osaka will be similar to that in Tokyo. Tonkotsu and shoyu are however among the most popular; tonkotsu features a buttery broth thanks to boiled pork marrow bones, while shoyu has a slightly salty and tangy soy sauce-based broth. Depending on the ramen and the restaurant, the noodles can be cooked al dente or left a bit longer for a creamier, smoother bowl of ramen.
Those familiar with the anime might have seen the coveted Japanese curry from time to time, for good reason: if it looked so delicious on TV, it’s even more heavenly in person. Osaka is home to many restaurants serving this thick and flavorful curry that is absolutely perfect on a cold winter day. In fact, it’s actually one of the nation’s premier comfort foods!
This recipe was adopted in Japan after the arrival of Indian curry and has become a fusion of flavors thanks to British curry dishes. It’s often served on a bed of rice or with katsu (fried cutlet) and features a mild, warm flavor from the curry spice, with a rich thickness that comes from its sauce-like texture.
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