Translated by Hilary Keyes
6 Dishes From Osaka That Will Satisfy Your Heart And Stomach
Written by Mami Wakamatsu
One of the greatest features of Osaka in comparison to Tokyo, is the abundance of amazing food available for reasonable prices. Home of okonomiyaki, takoyaki and more, let's take a look at six of the best foods in Osaka.
Skyrocketing to popularity among travelers to Japan is the center of the Kansai region, Osaka. One of the reasons for its popularity is it's incredible local food.
Home of konamono (*1), or batter-based dishes, such as takoyaki (octopus donut holes) and okonomiyaki (savory pancakes), Osaka is full of restaurants and shops with reasonably priced menus.
Today, let's take a look at six of the dishes you just have to try when visiting Osaka.
*1 Konamono: general term for foods where the main ingredient is flour dissolved in water (such as pancakes).
1. Kushi Katsu
Kushi katsu are various cuts of meat, vegetables and seafood that have been skewered, then dipped in batter and deep-fried.
The method of preparing the kushi katsu and the ingredients used differs shop to shop, but the majority of the stores only prepare the dishes once they've been ordered. The best way to eat them is when they're piping hot and thoroughly dipped in Worcestershire sauce.
The crispy batter and the deep flavors of the ingredients inside, combined with the sweet-sour Worcestershire sauce create an unbelievable harmony when eaten.
There is one thing that you have to keep in mind when eating kushi katsu though: once you've dipped it in the sauce, you absolutely cannot double-dip. The sauce container is communal so the next customer at that table will be using the same sauce as you. So that everyone can equally enjoy their kushi katsu, please keep this one rule in mind at all times. If you think the sauce is lacking, before you take a bite put as much sauce on it as you can.
And once you've finished your kushi katsu feast, put the used skewers in the cup provided on the table.
One of the most famous B rank cuisines in Japan is of course takoyaki.
Takoyaki are three to five centimeter round fried dough balls filled with "tako" (octopus) and other ingredients.
Once they're cooked, you can dress them with bonito flakes, green seaweed flakes, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce or whatever else you are given at the restaurant. Though you can find them all across Japan now, takoyaki are 100% Osakan in origin. As there are so many shops selling it, the takoyaki found in Osaka is often much more reasonably priced than that in Tokyo.
Plus, if you would like to try a completely different variety of takoyaki, such as ones made with dashi (bonito soup) or even some exotic ingredients, then you must look in Osaka first. Why not try them in both cities and see for yourself what the difference is?
Of course, when they're freshly made, the inside is quite hot so please be careful not to burn your mouth.
Okonomiyaki is essentially a savory pancake filled with cabbage and lots of other ingredients, that is cooked on an iron plate.
With ingredients such as Japanese yam, seafood, pork slices, mochi, cheese and beyond to choose from, you're sure to discover your perfect okonomiyaki along the way.
Like takoyaki, okonomiyaki is also originally from Osaka, but now you can find it all across Japan and can even make it at home. Why not try out some of the variety for yourself?
The best way to enjoy a finished okonomiyaki is by dressing it with sauce, mayonnaise, bonito flakes and green seaweed flakes.
4. Kasu Udon
Kasu is beef offal that has been cooked in oil. As it's thoroughly cooked, the richness of the meat really comes out, giving it a tender texture when eaten with the soft udon noodles. It's full of protein and packed with collagen, making it a favorite among women.
Though not as well known in Tokyo, tonpei-yaki is quite similar to takoyaki and okonomiyaki in both cooking style and popularity.
Tonpei-yaki is pork and cabbage and other ingredients folded inside scrambled eggs (much like an omelette) and dressed with Worcestershire sauce or ketchup and green seaweed flakes.
Though it doesn't use flour, it will leave you feeling just as full as takoyaki and okonomiyaki does, and it makes a great side dish with drinks.
6. Jiyuken Curry
Jiyuken curry is a dish that can only be found in Osaka.
You might be able to see the difference in the picture. It's completely different from the curry rice found everywhere else in Japan. It's quite simple - just onions and beef. The reasoning behind this dish is simple - it's made for when all you want to taste is curry itself.
And, compared to regular curry rice where the curry is put on top of the rice, with Jiyuken curry the curry is already added to the rice itself, making it easier to enjoy the rich flavors involved while it's still hot. Before you dig in, please try adding a raw egg and topping it with some sauce first, these really bring out the deeper flavors of the curry. Jiyuken curry is already a smash hit with tourists to Osaka.
Osaka, an epicurean's paradise, is full of delicious dishes and a place not to be missed by visitors to Japan.
If you want both your stomach and heart to feel satisfied all at reasonable prices, by all means try out the dishes we've introduced here.