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5 Street Foods in Osaka You Must Try

by Winnie Wong | June 15, 2017

Osaka is the birthplace of many delicious local cuisines, and the street food is one you really should treat yourself to on any trip to the city. Whether you like fish, meat, noodles or soups, there is bound to be something to suit your pallet.

1. Takoyaki

This is the famous grilled octopus ball. It is made with a flour and egg based batter, filled with slices of octopus, pickled ginger and green onion and traditionally served with Takoyaki sauce. It can also come with other toppings such as mayonnaise, powdered nori seaweed and dried bonito fish flakes to complete this popular street snack, which you really should try at least once!

2. Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki, is a savoury pancake dish, made with shredded cabbage and a whole range of other ingredients such as squid, prawn, octopus or meat. It is usually served with Okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, bonito fish flakes and powdered nori seaweed. The name is originally derived from the word okonomi, meaning “what you like”, and yaki meaning “grill”, which you will understand when you order one.

3. Kushikatsu

Kushikatsu is a Japanese dish of deep fried skewered meat and vegetables, with the Shinsekai neighbourhood of Osaka considered as its birthplace. Kushikatsu seems to have originated here as a dish served to local workers who were looking for a quick snack during the busy workday. The Kushikatsu are usually dipped in a sauce before eating. However, there is a rule though, double dipping is big “no no” in a shared sauce container!

4. Kitsune Udon

Kitsune Udon, is a noodle soup containing dashi stock made from scratch with dried bonito flakes and kombu seaweed, thick, chewy udon noodles and aburaage (sliced tofu) seasoned well with soy sauce, mirin, and sugar.  People usually eat the udon soup with toppings like narutomaki (fish cake), spring onions and spinach.

5. Horumon

Horumon is a grilled beef, pork or poultry offal dish originating from Osaka. This dish is usually served in teppan-yaki style (iron grill pan), Kushi-yaki style (grilled skewers) or barbecue style (Yakiniku) which was influenced by the Koreans.

Where to go for street food in Osaka

Shinsekai Area

To the west of Tennoji Park is Shinsekai, one of Osaka’s most interesting neighbourhoods. This area has remained largely untouched over the years. At the beginning of the 20th Century, the area flourished with attractions and restaurants that drew enormous crowds. Today, little of the bustle remains, but many traditional eating and drinking establishments can still be found. One highlight is Jan-Jan Yokocho Lane, which runs along one side of Shinsekai. This dining and shopping street is where labourers who rebuilt Osaka after World War II gathered, and it still contains Japanese-style pubs and cheap cafeteria-like restaurants with highly unique menus that include hormone-yaki (barbecued cattle organs) and kushi-yaki (Japanese shish kebab); it’s an entertainment district for locals, much as it has always been. The name of this alley comes from the “jan jan” strumming sound of the Japanese banjo that waitresses used to play to attract customers.

Dotonbori Area

Dotombori is a symbol of the Minami Area and a mecca for Osaka’s kuidaore food culture. Dozens of restaurants line the Dotomborigawa River, and large famous billboards draw diners’ attention. On the north side of the river, where geisha used to entertain their customers, are now small bars and restaurants squeezed together in rows. The southern side of the river is the centre of the Dotombori area, which was once known as the theatre district. In Hozenji-Yokocho, one of Dotombori’s back streets, small restaurants line the stone-paved alley, retaining the flavor and atmosphere of old Osaka. It’s like a step back in time. Dotombori has so many restaurants and bars packed along its narrow streets and alleys that it’s impossible to count them. Their colourful signs and decorated entrances create a symphony of light and design that dazzles the eye. Here is where you can experience the true meaning of kuidaore, and stuff yourself with Osaka’s great-tasting reasonably priced food to your ultimate culinary satisfaction.

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