Top 14 Must-Try Osaka Foods

Advisor - Alex Sallis
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Alex Sallis

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  • Food & Wine

  • Arts & Culture

  • Osaka

  • Japan

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  • Gourmet

  • Local Food

Top 14 Must-Try Osaka Foods
Curator’s statement

It’s no secret that Japan has some of the best cuisine in the world. As the food capital of Japan, Osaka shines when it comes to their food scene. From the obvious (ramen) to the strange (pufferfish) to the sweet treats (kakigori), you truly cannot go wrong when scouting out Osaka foods to try. Whether you are on the hunt for street food, are seeking a Michelin-recognized restaurant, or want to learn how to make Osaka foods yourself when traveling, I highly suggest putting Osaka on your next Japan itinerary (your taste buds will thank you).

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Zentis Osaka

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SAVORY

Okonomiyaki: Okonomiyaki, often dubbed "Japanese savory pancakes," is a beloved comfort food in Osaka found everywhere from street vendors to nicer restaurants like the Michelin-recognized, Jibundoki. It's made with a delicious batter of flour, eggs and shredded cabbage, mixed with various ingredients like pork, shrimp and squid. Cooked on a griddle and topped with savory toppings, it's a must-try when it comes to Osaka’s food scene and you can even learn how to make this famous dish yourself alongside a local at an okonomiyaki cooking class.

Kushikatsu: Kushikatsu are deep-fried skewers of meat, seafood and vegetables, a staple of Osaka's street food scene. These crispy skewers are coated in a light batter and fried to perfection, then served with a tangy dipping sauce. Popular ingredients include pork, beef, shrimp and lotus root, making kushikatsu a favorite snack among locals and visitors alike. When you’re at Dotonbori, stop by Kushikatsu Shirotaya to try it.

Onigiri: Onigiri are traditional Japanese rice balls, often wrapped in seaweed and filled with various ingredients like grilled salmon, pickled plum or seasoned tuna. In Osaka, you'll find onigiri at convenience stores, markets and specialty shops, offering a convenient and portable snack option. My favorite time to enjoy onigiri? Early morning at Lawson or 7/11 before exploring; they are such a convenient option before coffee shops and cafes open. If you’re willing to wait until opening hours, Onigir Gorichan has gone viral as one of the best onigiri stops in Osaka.

Takoyaki: Takoyaki are iconic street food in Osaka, featuring round, savory balls of batter filled with diced octopus. Cooked in special takoyaki pans until golden and crispy on the outside, then brushed with a sweet and savory sauce and topped with mayonnaise, bonito flakes, green onion or a combination of whichever you’d like. Takoyaki stalls are sprinkled all throughout Osaka, and you can’t visit without trying this yummy dish (be sure to let them cool down because they are HOT!)

Teppanyaki: Teppanyaki is a style of Japanese cuisine where ingredients are grilled on a flat iron griddle, typically in front of diners. In Osaka, teppanyaki restaurants offer a theatrical dining experience, with skilled chefs showcasing their culinary prowess as they grill premium cuts of meat (wagyu, Kobe beef, you name it), seafood and vegetables. For teppanyaki with a view, Teppanyaki Kobe, located on the 22nd floor, is the perfect place to enjoy this meal.

Ramen: Ramen, the popular noodle soup that we all know and love, has gained a cult following in Osaka. With its rich broth, chewy noodles and various toppings, like pork belly, soft-boiled eggs and green onions, ramen is a hearty and comforting meal. In Osaka, you'll find a diverse range of ramen shops, each with its own unique broth and flavor profile, making it a must-try dish for any visitor to the city. From the chain ramen restaurant Ichiran to the more local Hommachi Seimenjo Chukasobakobo, there is so much ramen to choose from.

Fugu: Fugu, also known as blowfish or pufferfish, is a delicacy in Japan renowned for its delicate flavor and tender texture. Osaka has the highest consumption rate of fugu in Japan, and at restaurants like Torafugujo, adventurous eaters can try it for themselves. Despite its culinary appeal, fugu contains a deadly poison in its organs, making its preparation highly regulated and requiring specialized training for chefs. Eating fugu is both a cultural tradition and a unique experience for those willing to try it, making it onto my list of Osaka foods worth trying.

Sushi: In Osaka, sushi takes on a vibrant and innovative twist, showcasing the city's culinary creativity. You'll find traditional sushi delicacies alongside unique Osaka-style variations, often incorporating local flavors and ingredients. Whether enjoyed at high-end restaurants like Sushi Harasho or cozy conveyor belt sushi bars like Genrokuzushi Shinsaibashi (I ate here more times than I'm proud of), Osaka offers a sushi experience that celebrates both tradition and innovation.

Jyuu en pan: Also known as the 10 yen coin pancake, this grab-and-go snack is essentially a pancake filled with mozzarella cheese, most commonly, but can also be found filled with custard, or chocolate. You’ll find these 10 yen coins everywhere from Dotonbori to outside of Osaka castle and they are perfect whether you’re craving something sweet or cheesy. Not so much a traditional Japanese food, but a very fun snack with a photo-worthy cheese pull.

SWEET

Mochi: Mochi is a traditional Japanese rice cake made from glutinous rice pounded into a chewy, sticky dough. In Osaka, mochi is enjoyed in various forms, including plain, filled with sweet red bean paste or coated in kinako (toasted soybean flour). My favorite variation is the fresh warm mochi you can find just outside of Osaka in Nara at Nakatanidou, where they dramatically pound it fresh right in front of you, which is an experience within itself. Whether enjoyed as a sweet treat or used in traditional ceremonies and celebrations, mochi is a beloved part of Osaka's food culture.

Cheesecake: Cheesecake has become a popular dessert in Osaka, with bakeries like Rikuro going viral for their jiggly dessert. Osaka-style cheesecake is often lighter and fluffier than its American counterpart, with a delicate texture and subtle sweetness. You can typically choose to order these fresh or a few hours old, but my tip is to wait in line for the fresh and enjoy this steaming hot treat.

Dango: You’ve likely seen a variation of these on your emoji keyboard. Dango are Japanese rice dumplings made from glutinous rice flour, skewered onto bamboo sticks and served as a sweet snack or dessert. In Osaka, dango is commonly enjoyed in three variations: mitarashi dango (glazed with a sweet soy sauce), anko dango (filled with sweet red bean paste) and yomogi dango (flavored with mugwort). These chewy and flavorful dumplings are a popular street food and festival treat in Osaka.

Kakigori: Kakigori is a traditional Japanese shaved ice dessert that originated in Osaka. It's made by shaving ice and then topping it with flavored syrups, condensed milk, fruits and sweet beans. This refreshing treat is popular during the hot summer months and can be found in various flavors throughout Osaka's streets and food stalls. For a stylish and more traditional experience, try the matcha Kakigori at the minimalist Wad Omotenashi Cafe.

Taiyaki: Taiyaki are fish-shaped cakes filled with sweet fillings like red bean paste, custard cream or chocolate. In Osaka, taiyaki is a beloved handheld snack enjoyed by people of all ages. Whether enjoyed warm and freshly baked from street stalls or served chilled from specialty shops like Naruto Taiyaki Hompo, taiyaki is a nostalgic treat that captures the essence of Osaka's culinary heritage.

Need to Know

If you don't have a lot of time in Osaka, focus on trying smaller portions and snacks rather than large meals so you can fit it all in. For the most part, restaurants accept credit cards, but it's smart to carry some cash for street food vendors. Japan in general is very quiet and respectful, so be sure to thank your chef and keep your voice down when enjoying your meal. Lastly, if you don't know what to order, say "osusume" (oh-soo-soo-meh) to whoever is taking your order, which loosely translates to "what do you recommend?" Works like a charm!

This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Japan. Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out Celine Chua's trip report, Autumn in Japan.

Advisor - Alex Sallis

Travel Advisor

Alex Sallis

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