BEST Food in Osaka: Osaka Restaurants to Osaka Food Tours

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Food in Osaka, Japan

Ask anyone what they enjoy most about travel, and food will undoubtedly make the list. Maybe even the top of the list. Before kids, my husband and I would travel the world in search of new food experiences. And after adding two youngsters to the clan, well, we’re still in search of more. I work for an airline, so we fly around the world looking for local cuisines to indulge in. One place that was always at the top of our food bucket list: Japan. And after eating our way through the most iconic food in Osaka, it’s clear why this place is a top food destination.

Before we get into all the mouth-watering dishes, and what to eat in Osaka, a brief look at the competition.

Japan is bursting with some of the world’s best food. Tokyo holds the prestigious title of the most Michelin-starred city in the world. If that doesn’t prove how famous Japan is for its food, enter Kyoto. Kyoto is 3rd. And Osaka? It comes in at the 4th spot. Three out of the top four most Michelin starred cities in the world, are in Japan.

Because Tokyo and Kyoto are higher on the list, Osaka can sometimes be seen as the little brother in Japan. Often overlooked for its popular neighbors. Even though it has some of the best food in the world. More Michelin-star Osaka restaurants exist than in foodie cities like New York, London, or Singapore.

Famous area for food in Osaka, Dotonbori.

Famous area for food in Osaka, Dotonbori.

There’s a reason why Osaka is referred to as “the kitchen of Japan,” and has the motto, kuidaore, or “eat until you drop”!

So, don’t underestimate it because here you’ll find some of the best food in Japan, from Japanese street food, to traditional Osaka food, to famous Osaka restaurants, the food in Osaka is an unforgettable experience!

In Osaka, good food is easy to find. But if you want the best food Osaka has to offer AND the best restaurants in Osaka to eat them, then forget about a list of what to do in Osaka, and dive into this Guide to Food in Osaka, Japan! Okay, now on to the Osaka food!

The Most Iconic Foods in Osaka & the Best Osaka Restaurants

Takoyaki (Octopus Balls)—Specialty Food of Osaka

There are many regional specialties Osaka is known for. One of them – Takoyaki. It’s made from a dashi batter that’s soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. And filled with octopus at the center. This is one of those foods that sound adventurous, and it is, but it’s more batter than octopus. It doesn’t taste overly seafood-y, which is good news if you’re on the fence about trying it. It’s a lovely dough ball with just the perfect amount of octopus.

Takoyaki is an Osaka street food. Walk down any street in Osaka and you’ll almost certainly see Takoyaki being made. Restaurants use a big cast iron pan and it’s almost hypnotic to watch them being flipped and cooked. A must eat in Osaka!

Where to eat Takoyaki in Osaka: The best Takoyaki in Osaka can be found walking around Kuromon Market. Grab some at a street vendor and you’ll get to watch them being made.

The best Takoyaki in Osaka at Kuromon Market.

The best Takoyaki in Osaka at Kuromon Market.

Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pancakes)—Osaka Restaurant Show

Another local Osaka specialty food is Okonomiyaki. If you like restaurants that double as a show, this is the food for you. Okonomiyaki is a savory Japanese pancake made with flour, eggs, shredded cabbage, and typically a protein like shrimp or pork. It’s often topped with mayo, Japanese Worcestershire, and bonito flakes. But each place puts their own spin on it.

Now back to the show part. When you go to an okonomiyaki restaurant, you’ll notice a big flat-top in front of you (often on your table). Depending on the restaurant you visit, a restaurant chef may come over and cook in front of you. Or they may give you the ingredients for you to cook up your own. And that’s what makes Okonomiyaki so special. It’s not just great, traditional Japanese food. It’s an experience. And it’s also one of those foods you’ll want to recreate when you get home.

Okonomiyaki is also great if taking kids to Osaka. They will be so entertained by the show, they’ll forget all about the ipad.

Where to eat Okonomiyaki in Osaka: Mizuno has some of the best okonomiyaki in Osaka. But come early – it often has a line queuing out the door.

The Japanese pancake, Okonomiyaki is a specialty food in Osaka and the making of it can be an Osaka restaurant show.

The Japanese pancake, Okonomiyaki is a specialty food in Osaka and the making of it can be an Osaka restaurant show.

Butaman (Pork Buns)—Osaka Cheap Eats

I’m salivating just thinking about these little pockets of heaven. Butaman are soft buns filled with ground pork and onion. They are so pillowy and flavorful. Most places will give you a side of what can only be described as wasabi mustard. It pairs very well with the Butaman. But be careful – it looks exactly like American style mustard. So don’t coat your pork bun with it, or you’ll be in for a rather spicy surprise.

These Japanese style pork buns are similar to a Bao. And they are very filling due to the density. While the bun part is fluffy, they pack a big punch. It doesn’t take more than 2-3 to get filled up—the perfect Osaka cheap eats. What’s especially nice is that one of these costs less than $2 USD. Not a bad way to spend your money.

Where to eat Butaman in Osaka: Horai 551 is known widely as one the best Osaka restaurants for their handcrafted pork buns.

The Osaka food, Butaman, or Pork Buns makes great Osaka cheap eats!

The Osaka food, Butaman, or Pork Buns makes great Osaka cheap eats!

Gyoza (Pan-Fried Dumplings)—Staple Food in Osaka

Another staple food of Osaka – you can find gyoza available as street food or in most restaurants. Gyoza originated out of China, but they have been embedded into the Japanese food culture. In China, these dumplings are most often boiled and served soft, as seen in Beijing street food. In Japan, they are pan-fried and filled with minced pork, cabbage, and garlic. So, the preparation is quite a bit different.

Many locals will snack on Gyoza after work, as a snack, or when out with friends. It’s often served with a dipping sauce (soy sauce, vinegar, and chili oil is a classic mix). These are also a good starting point if you’re looking to ease your way into Japanese cuisine.

Where to eat gyoza in Osaka: GYOZAOH! in the famous Dotonbori area has the best gyoza restaurant.

Gyoza, Japanese dumplings, are a staple food in Osaka.

Gyoza, Japanese dumplings, are a staple food in Osaka.

Kushikatsu (Deep Fried Meat and Veggies)—Popular Japanese Food

If your idea of a successful meal involves deep fried food, you’ll want to add the popular Japanese food, kushikatsu to your list.

Kushikatsu is panko crusted meat and veggies placed on a skewer and then deep fried. Popular items include shrimp, beef, chicken, asparagus, and even cheese and quail egg. I recommend getting a combination and trying some you wouldn’t immediately consider.

Where to eat kushikatsu in Osaka: Kushikatsu Daruma is probably the most famous restaurant in Osaka for this dish. And they have one rule: no double dipping.

A popular Japanese food in Osaka, Kushikatsu, is a combination of fried meats and vegetables.

A popular Japanese food in Osaka, Kushikatsu, is a combination of fried meats and vegetables.

Ramen—Famous Japanese Food

Ramen is popular all over Japan. In fact, as a world famous Japanese food, it’s one of the foods people are most excited to try while visiting. And every place makes it just a little bit different. Eating ramen in Osaka means you’ll have thousands of restaurants to choose from.

Ichiran is a popular chain throughout Japan. It’s a must while visiting Osaka. Ichiran dishes out authentic Tonkotsu ramen. It’s a rich, delicious broth often served with an egg and pork in addition to the noodles. Posting your bowl of ramen soup on Instagram is almost a requirement while visiting Osaka. And this bowl will not disappoint.

Try some different styles of Osaka ramen while you’re there. Tonkotsu is the name of the broth. Other broth styles include Shoyu (a soy sauce flavor) and Shio (a light broth).

Where to eat ramen in Osaka: ICHIRAN Dotonbori

Famous Japanese Food, Ramen at the Osaka restaurant, ICHIRAN Dotonbori.

Famous Japanese Food, Ramen at the Osaka restaurant, ICHIRAN Dotonbori.

Melonpan—Osaka Dessert

Of course, any good food list needs dessert. And an Osaka food guide is no different. The name of this Japanese sweet treat is a little misleading. There’s actually no melon flavoring whatsoever. It gets its name from the shape – melonpan is shaped like a rock melon. It’s a flaky pastry on the outside and an ice cream filling on the inside.

Be on the lookout for a special version of this Osaka dessert – some places will sell Melonpan with green tea ice cream. And it pretty much doesn’t get better than that.

Where to eat Melonpan in Osaka: A food truck in Dotonburi called the World’s Second Best Freshly Baked Melon Pan Ice Cream. Quite the name, right?

The Osaka dessert, Melonpan.

The Osaka dessert, Melonpan.

Osaka Food Tours & Must-dos

In addition to eating the must-try foods in Osaka, there are also a few awesome Osaka food experiences you must have on your foodie trip to Japan.

Kuromon Ichiba Market

No guide to food in Osaka would be complete without the best food market in Osaka, Kuromon Ichiba Market. As previously mentioned, this is where you’ll find the best Takoyaki in Osaka, but there’s so much more!

With a name meaning “Osaka’s kitchen,” this is the place to sample all of the famous Osaka street food which is both a huge part of Osaka cuisine and the Japanese food culture. You can spend hours sampling some of the best food in Osaka at a very affordable price.

Kuromon Ichiba market is a popular place for Osaka street food.

Kuromon Ichiba market is a popular place for Osaka street food.

Osaka 7-Eleven

This one probably sounds strange and super out of place. An Osaka food guide featuring 7-Eleven. Unless you are familiar with the popularity that 7-Eleven holds throughout Japan. It’s not your average 7-Eleven like we have in the U.S. It’s filled with unique Japanese foods and drinks. Locals and tourists go there for full meals. Yes, full meals. At Osaka 7-Eleven.

A couple things to be on the lookout for: onigiri (rice balls with meat filling), egg sandwiches, soba noodles, flavored potato chips, mochi, and pancakes (pre-filled with syrup and butter). No matter what you go with, it’s all in the experience. Stroll the aisles and choose some new things. You won’t regret it!

Osaka 7-eleven—shop for unique Japanese foods and cheap eats in Osaka.

Osaka 7-eleven—shop for unique Japanese foods and cheap eats in Osaka.

Osaka Food Tours

If you want to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time, I highly recommend an Osaka Food Tour. I have personally used a company called Magical Trips for multiple Japanese food tours, and I can’t recommend them enough.

The English speaking guides are locals, so in addition to a memorable Osaka food tour, they can help suggest activities for your trip. The groups are small. And you will get filled up. The Osaka food tour I recommend is the Osaka Local Foodie Tour in Dotonbori and Shinsekai. Dotonbori is a super popular foodie area, and you’ll have the opportunity to taste some of the best Osaka specialties.

And if your journey takes you over to Kyoto, try the Kyoto Night Foodie Tour. There may or may not be matcha beer and matcha sake involved.

Drinking matcha beer on an Osaka food tour.

Drinking matcha beer on an Osaka food tour.

Why Foodies Love the Food of Osaka

Osaka is filled with some of the most unique and mouthwatering food in the world. And Osaka is becoming a food destination for the variety of experiences.

On the same day, you can enjoy some Osaka cheap eats at Kuromon Market and dine at a Michelin starred restaurant. Or enjoy a hot bowl of Osaka ramen while seated at your own private cubby.

As a major part of the food culture, indulging in the Osaka street food is worth a visit to this culinary capital of Japan. And some of the Osaka specialty foods have become popular Japanese foods across the country and beyond.

There are amazing Osaka food experiences for every personality, budget, and taste. And when you return home, you’ll be wondering when you can go back.

Your Thoughts on Food in Osaka

We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! What do you think about this Osaka foodie guide? Are you planning on visiting Osaka? Have you been? What are you looking forward to eating in Osaka?

Brittany, author of BEST Food in Osaka: Osaka Restaurants to Osaka Food Tours

Brittany, author of BEST Food in Osaka: Osaka Restaurants to Osaka Food Tours

About the Author

Brittany Stretchbery works full-time for an airline while traveling with her husband and two young kids. At Family on Standby, she encourages parents to break from the routines and embrace travel with kids. You can find more of her work on her blog, Family on Standby, and follow her family’s travel adventures on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook

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