Fondly known as ‘Tenko No Daidokoro’, which translates to ‘The Nation’s Kitchen’, Osaka should be your one-stop destination in Japan if you’re on a gastronomic pilgrimage for some solid Japanese cuisine.
This food-focused metropolis is home to a plethora of delectable Japanese delights. From the humble street stall vendors selling piping hot takoyaki to the large restaurant chains that churn out plates of kaiten sushi, the vast variety of food here is sure to leave your stomachs hankering for more.
If you’ve been to Osaka or have done extensive research on it, you would probably have come across Kuromon Ichiba, a popular market that has been around for almost 170 years. Despite being a seafood market, the 580-metre stretch also has shops that sell fresh local produce as well as restaurants that serve up local cuisine.
A staggering average of 23,000 people visit Kuromon Ichiba a day and the market is said to not attract just tourists, but locals too. However, over the years, does the place continue to be an accurate representation of a Japanese seafood market or has it slowly evolved into just another tourist trap?
For an all-rounded experience of authentic Japanese cuisine, there is no better place to visit than Osaka, fondly known as “The Nation’s Kitchen”. The vibrant, bustling city is known to be the place for foodies to fill their bottomless pits, and you can easily find something to eat at every corner of this gastronomic paradise.
While there are plenty of options that you can stuff your faces silly with, one popular street snack that is a must-try here is takoyaki. For the uninitiated, takoyaki refers to a spherical Japanese appetiser that is made from a wheat flour-based batter that gets its shape from the unique moulded pan it’s cooked in. It usually comes stuffed with ingredients such as diced octopus, but these days, you can also get fillings such as tempura scraps, ham and shrimp.
Dotonbori is a great place to head to if you’re keen to try some authentic takoyaki. However, the streets here are lined with multiple stalls that sell the same thing, so which stall truly has the best takoyaki? Like the true blue Singaporeans we were, we decided to find the Takoyaki stall with the longest queue. Alas, this led us to Takoyaki Juhachiba, which had a snaking long queue that stretched on for about half an hour.
There is something oh-so-magical about the hustle and bustle of fast-paced Dotonbori, an iconic street in Osaka that is packed with a never-ending array of things to see and do. If you’re an unashamed foodie like us, you’ll also be glad to know that the area is a fantastic place to try some authentic Japanese fare.
However, the crowd does sometimes get to us and some of the prices for food here can be rather steep as Dotonbori is, at the end of the day, still a tourist hotspot. Many a time, we wished that there was somewhere we could settle down for a quiet meal to get away from the crowd for a bit.
We are glad to say that if you search hard enough, you can actually find some gems that are a little less hectic than the places in the main area of Dotonbori. That was how we came across Wakasaya Nankai Namba along a random street. This humble restaurant is great for people who love raw seafood as they specialise in wholesome sashimi bowls at wallet-friendly prices.
If you’re a foodie who’s heading to Japan for the first time and you’re not sure which city you should start with, we highly recommend that you slot in Osaka at the top of your list.
Endearingly known as “Tenka no Daidokoro”, which translates to The Nation’s Kitchen, Japan’s second largest metropolitan area is home to a plethora of food options that are sure to leave you spoilt for choice. From bite-sized balls of takoyaki to piping hot bowls of ramen, there is something to eat in pretty much every corner of Osaka. You’ll never go hungry in this gastronomic paradise!
Aside from being a glutton’s idea of heaven, the fast-paced city is jam-packed with plenty of things to see and do. From one of the largest pokemon centres in the world to the majestic Osaka Castle, Osaka is truly a one-stop destination where you can experience the beauty of Japan in a nutshell.
For those of you who need some help with your itinerary, here is our 5D4N guide on what to eat, see and do in the kitchen of Japan.