Second to Tokyo, Osaka may be the second most well-known city in Japan. The commercial center has an astonishing 19 million citizens roaming the streets. There are many delicious restaurants and stalls but here are the Osaka eats that I particularly enjoyed.
One cannot mention Osaka without speaking of Dotonbori. Dotonbori is a hub of restaurants, shops, and theaters. Visit any day of the week, any time of day and you will find crowds of people, both tourists, and locals, strolling down the promenade.
My Air BnB was right next to Dotonbori so I stopped by at least once a day for a quick snack. My favorite eatery was the standing ramen shop. There are 3 different locations within Dotonbori but only the center location is busy. To find the stall, look for a large dragon above the shop with bright red counters and seats.
Like many other ramen restaurants, this one had a pork broth full of depth. However, unlike other ramen shops, this one had Korean kimchi on the side. A little Korean Japanese fusion I dare say?
Dotonbori at night takes on a life of its own. Bright lights adorn the streets with ornaments left and right.
Dotonbori has a couple of restaurants that are also at Tsukiji market so if you don't have the chance to go to Tokyo, you can still eat at some of the same places. For example, you can find Sushi Zen Mai at both locations. The quality of the sushi is just as superb at both restaurants but the one in Dotonbori is open 24 hours a day!
Even if sushi is not your favorite, you can find almost anything in this area. Walk down the aisles and find everything from ramen to udon to cheesecake to takoyaki.
Just half a mile away from Dotonbori is my favorite location in Osaka, Kuromon Market.
Kuromon market is comparable to the Nishiki market in Kyoto but BETTER.
First off, let's start with the crab. If you don't have the patience to wait in the 3-hour wait for the crab restaurant in Dotonbori, head to Kuromon. There you can find many stalls that sell crab legs prepared fresh every day.
I opted for a crab combo which included king crab legs and one jumbo shrimp with ponzu sauce. Although I chose the smallest box, it was plenty for 2 people to share as an appetizer. Pricey? Yes, at 5000 yen. However, I can say without hesitation, it was hands down the best king crab I've ever had.
Like most markets, Kuromon also sells vegetables, produce, pickled vegetables, and fresh seafood.
You can also create your own sushi lunch by purchasing several different premade sushi boxes. Splurge on 3 pieces of the best otoro you will ever have and you won't regret it.
The one difference I've noticed between Kuromon and other markets is the large selection of beef dishes. Wagyu steaks were sold at a number of stores for customers to purchase and cook at home. One specific dish that stood out was this phenomenal wagyu sushi. Yes, wagyu sushi. For 1000 yen you get 2 pieces of the most life-changing beef sushi you will ever have. The meat just melts in your mouth, leaving a savory note on your taste buds. I will remember you forever wagyu sushi.
Another favorite of mine was scallion wagyu tendon curry. Posters of this best-selling dish adorn this 5-seat restaurant. The oh-so-tender wagyu tendon swimming in a savory curry on a bed of rice...is your stomach grumbling yet?
Now on to desserts! It wasn't until my second visit to Kuromon that I stumbled upon the same mochi dessert at Tsukiji market. My heart did a little dance as I stood in line for probably the 5th mochi I've had from this business. Flavors range from adzuki to yuzu to matcha. Everything you may want, they will probably have. 300 yen for one strawberry-topped mochi.
Even in the cold, I couldn't resist some ice cream. An ice cream shop at the tourist stand can be found with interesting flavors including this charcoal vanilla. I'll admit, I was a bit disappointed that it tasted just like vanilla. It was good vanilla ice cream but, just vanilla all the same.
Although I wasn't too sure what kind of sweet this was (or if it was even a sweet), I have this store on my list to try next time. My belt was just about to burst so I had to reign it in a little...
That is until I spotted white strawberries! White strawberries seem to be the craze in Japan. From what I've heard, they are incredibly sweet and tastier than regular strawberries. At 800 yen for 6 pieces, I expected them to be phenomenal. The verdict? I've had better.
Next up, exploring Osaka.
Check out the rest of the “A Taste of Japan” series:
Part 1: Tsukiji Market
Part 2: Sushi Dai
Part 3: Tokyo
Part 4: Kikunoi
Part 5: Kyoto Pt 1
Part 6: Kyoto Pt 2
Part 8: Exploring Osaka
Part 9: Kikunoi Ryotei