Osaka is famous for its food and takes great pride in its local cuisine. Food standards are high in both quality and presentation. Characteristic foods in Osaka are soups and sauces with a light flavor, as clearly seen from the soup for udon (wheat pasta made in thick strips) or soba (thin noodles made from buckwheat flour) and the sauce for stewed or boiled food.
Takoyaki, okonomiyaki, fugu, kushikatsu, and yakiniku are Osaka’s food specialties. You can find these five foods well represented all over the city. Local people also like other food made from flour, like negiyaki.
- Osaka is home not only to great street food but also to traditional dishes.
- Osaka has some distinctive foods you won't find in other cities.
- People in Osaka and the Kansai region just love “konamono”, food made from flour, such as okonomiyaki, takoyaki, and negiyaki.
- Taste Osaka’s drink specialties such as tea and soy milk, with many different flavors.
- Osaka tends to be downmarket, but fine-dining providers also draw gourmet fans from around the world.
Flavors of Osaka
Japanese food is very regional. While there are common dishes and ingredients across the country, each region has its own special dishes, ingredients and techniques – be it using chicken instead of pork, thin noodles instead of thick, mustard instead of wasabi, frying instead of steaming, etc.
Osaka is a city with a wide variety of eating options ranging from street food on Dontonbori Street to fine dining at Kappa restaurants. Some Osaka restaurants serve beef from nearby Kobe, while other Osaka menus feature typical Japanese favorites like sushi, ramen and udon.
The challenge isn’t finding things to eat in Osaka, but rather deciding where to eat, with so many great choices.
Food in Osaka
There is a saying about the Osaka habit of eating till you drop, meaning “eating so much you fall into debt”! There are many local specialties in Osaka you really must try, while staying within your budget.
Sushi and Sashimi
Sushi is a very simple form of food, a combination of fresh fish or other ingredients, rice, and vinegar, served without too many other condiments or sauces. Sashimi is a traditional Japanese dish of carefully selected and sliced raw food; usually thinly sliced fresh fish.
Kobe beef is one of Japan’s top brands of wagyu beef. It has a reputation for tenderness, sweet flavor and fine texture, all of which appeal to people from all over the world. Two of the best ways to enjoy Kobe beef are yakiniku, grilled over a charcoal or gas brazier, and teppanyaki, grilled over an iron grill.
Kitsune udon is a dish which originated in Osaka. It is a hot soup of soft, chewy, thick wheat noodles, topped perfectly with slices of deep-fried tofu. Osaka's famous udon restaurants use a bonito-based broth, competing with each other via their specially-made, customized soup stocks.
Takoyaki (octopus balls) is one of the most beloved Osaka foods. Bits of octopus are cooked into balls of fried batter and topped with dark and sweet takoyaki sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, bonito flakes, and pickled ginger. The snack is commonly found at street festivals during the summer.
Kushikatsu is a deep-fried skewer dish with bite-sized meat and vegetables breaded with flour, eggs and bread crumbs. Kushikatsu restaurants are mostly concentrated in Osaka's Shinsekai area, where shops sell thick skewers dipped in breadcrumbs and deep-fry ranging from a crispy to a chewy finish.
Okonomiyaki is a thick savory pancake of mixed ingredients. These days, common ingredients include thinly sliced pork belly and cabbage cooked in batter, topped with a rich okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, and dried bonito shavings.
Almost anything can be added to this versatile Osaka food, including dried shrimp, kimchi, cheese, and even chewy mochi.
Teppanyaki – named for the flat iron grill upon which the ingredients are cooked – is a widely-enjoyed food that eschews an entirely meat-centered approach to include fresh vegetables, seafood, chicken and an array of exotic spices and sauce.
In perhaps the ultimate expression of luxury, this inviting combination is typically cooked to order right in front of you by master chefs who push the boundaries of both taste and performance.
Negiyaki is Osaka’s mixed savory pancake-style food. Negi or Japanese leek, is a popular ingredient in Japan both raw and cooked. Negiyaki features tons of cooked sliced green onion, and is often topped with freshly diced onion, along with soy sauce or okonomiyaki sauce.
Drinks in Osaka
Brimming with various good food, Osaka also has many unique and delicious drinks. Apart from alcoholic drinks, it is also famous for its home-produced tea and soy milk.
Genmaicha is a popular drink in Japan, comprising green tea leaves mixed with roasted brown rice. The addition of rice gives the tea a less bitter, more rounded, earthy and toasty flavor. It can be made or mixed with different grades of green tea, including houjicha (roasted green tea) and matcha.
Soy milk comes in incredibly many varieties in Japan. It is the plant milk with the highest nutritional content; containing a healthy amount of protein and carbohydrate, and no cholesterol. It is available in over 50 flavors. Japan's distinctive flavors such as sakura, matcha, and plum, can all be tasted via different varieties of soy milk.
Sake is alcohol made from fermented rice, and is served in all restaurants and bars. Kyoto may be a famous city for sake in the Kansai region, but there are also many sake breweries and traditional sake bars in Osaka.
Handpicked restaurants in Osaka
Osaka is known as the “Nation’s Kitchen”. The city is flourishing with a huge variety of restaurants, from Michelin-starred luxury dining to budget takoyaki and okonomiyaki restaurants.
Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M, Hozenji Yokocho
Matsusakagyu Yakiniku is a famous Japanese-style bbq restaurant with a few branches in Osaka. It specializes in Matsusaka beef, a type of wagyu extremely famous in Japan and abroad. The restaurant is located in the 80-meter long Hozenji Yokocho alley. You can get there in 5 minutes by foot from Namba Station.
Opening hours: weekdays 5 pm to 12 midnight; Sat, Sun, and public holidays 12–3 pm
Address: 1-1-19 Namba, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Hakata Ippudo Namba
This is a branch of the famous Hakata ramen chain, featuring thin, slightly chewy noodles in a pork-based broth. Taste the highest flavor-quality of Hakata tonkotsu ramen, with smooth and deep broth flavor, and/or try two of the house-specials: the Shiromaru Classic (classic and original broth) and Akamaru Modern (rich and deep modern broth).
Opening hours: every day 11–2 am
Address: 3-1-17 Nanbanaka, Naniwa-ku, Osaka
Kiji Umeda Sky Bldg
Kiji is one of the famous okonomiyaki restaurants in Osaka. The chef's recommendations are butatama (pork and egg), modern yaki (noodles), and sujiyaki (beef gristle and green onion).
The batter with chopped cabbage is hot, fluffy and really melts in the mouth. Each ingredient goes well with the batter and sauce. Every table has a grill where the okonomiyaki is laid, so it's warm when you eat.
Opening hours: every day 11.30 am–09.30 pm
Address: 1-1-90 Oyodonaka, Kita-ku | Umeda Sky Bldg. B1F Takimi Koji, Osaka
Osaka is a crossroads of international cuisine, and is home to many top-notch establishments serving delicious dishes, with a particular specialty in Italian food. Alto Tritone is a tiny restaurant opposite Osaka Station. There are plenty of pasta dishes here, as well as many meat options. Don’t miss the scallopine all gorgonzola, or the rich and decadent tiramisu.
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 5.30–10.30 pm
Address: 1-4-20 Oyodominami | 1F Hasegawa Bldg, Kita, Osaka
Explore the flavor of Osaka with Asia Highlights
Osaka is a city of great sights but also great food. When you come, try out the dishes you can find only here. Contact Asia Highlights for a guide to the best places for enjoying Osaka food. You won’t regret it.