It is no secret that we fell pretty hard for Osaka. In fact we ended up spending almost one of our two months in Japan in this city and I am not gonna lie, a lot of that had to do with the food. They say Osaka is the stomach of Japan and we have found that to be very true. Food is not only affordable and plentiful here it is also delicious – every.single.time.
That being said we have of course found some favourites and I thought I would share them here since most of them are places we have found at random or places that we have been recommended from locals. In other words they are not necessarily places you will find in a guide book.
To make it easier I have divided the places into 6 categories: Sushi – Asian Food – Non-Asian Food – Markets – Cafés – and Bars
Jonas made google map at the bottom with somewhat precise locations, since I don’t have the actual address for most of the places, just coordinates from a phone. Finally I will include an estimated price for each place – or at least tell you how much we spent on what we got.
Dig in and I hope you enjoy!
The real reason why you came to Japan…
1 + 2. Muten kura sushi trains
At 100 JPY a plate this is easily the cheapest sushi I will ever eat. It is pretty basic, nothing fancy but you get to stuff 2 faces for a price that would buy you 7 maki rolls where we come from!
Avoid the 6.30-8pm rush if you don’t like standing in line. We liked the one in Nishinari (1) best, but maybe that’s just because it was the first place we tried. Japanese website here.
Expect to spend: 100JPY (plus tax) per plate! We would normally roll out of there after 22 plates and pay ~2400JPY but it depends on you appetite obviously.
3. sushi train At the grand front osaka
For a fancier but still affordable running sushi experience this place at The Grand Front Osaka is great too. Pictured is one of my favourites: An “inside-out” tempura shrimp urimaki rolled in tempura crisps – yummy!
Go to the North building of the Grand Front Osaka and go up to the 7th floor.
Expect to spend: from 250-600JPY per plate depending on which plates you choose.
4. alley sushi
In lack of a better name I’ll refer to this place as “Alley sushi” because it was located (you guessed it) in an alley near our hostel. For the full-on authentic sushi experience this little place is old-fashioned and has a liberal approach to wasabi (read: it’s strong!) If you don’t like it that way I’m sure they’ll accommodate all your wishes when you sit face-to-face with the chefs as they make your sushi right in front of you.
Expect to spend: ~500JPY for a plate with 3 pieces.
All the stuff we miss!
Okonomiyaki, often described as the Japanese version of a pizza, originally comes from Hiroshima where they serve a slightly different and less burly version. The Osaka version is everywhere to be found throughout the city but nowhere is it as good as in this dirty and kitsch back-alley kitchen where the friendliest chef in Japan has been making them for a lifetime. When you go there tell him Isa and Jonas from Denmark said hi!
Expect to spend: Between 650-900JPY pr. okonomiyaki. Add cheese!
6. Q’s mall food court
Not technically one restaurant but several arranged around a large seating area, this cheap food court located conveniently at the Tennoji Station intersection was often our go-to if we just needed some food and didn’t feel like walking around looking for it. It is often crowded and loud especially at noon when all the students from nearby schools have their lunch break.
Reserve a seat first by placing you stuff at an empty table and then go order your food (don’t worry, stealing hasn’t been invented in Japan)
Go here for the Korean bibimbap and the fried rice – or whatever else looks good to you.
Expect to spend: We paid less than 2000JPY for all the food pictured above…
We found ourselves intrigued by the design-y look of this place, so we walked in and were pleasantly surprised to find that the inside delivered on the promise and the food was delicious. The place seems to have an emphasis on organic and local produce, although it’s hard to tell when you don’t speak Japanese.
Go here for the avocado salad which is *seriously* good and then try the avocado okonomiyaki that our neighbours had and tell us how it was, ’cause we never got back to try it.
Website here. No English menu so get creative and remember to smile – that will get you far.
Expect to spend: We weren’t very hungry so we split a salad and an okonomiyaki and spent 2224JPY
All things fried can be found here. You can pick and choose from the menu, so you only get what you like and you eat at the counter with a view to the two enormous pots where your food is being fried.
Go here for the tempura eggplant and shrimp.
Expect to spend: around 900JPY per person for a full meal.
9. Tsurugyo: kobe beef
When you’re finally in Japan and in a city this close to Kobe it would almost be a shame not to try out the world famous Kobe beef. Only problem is that the well-marbled beef comes at an extremely high price and it wasn’t something we could justify in our budget. So when Jonas’s parents sent me some money and told me to find a good birthday present for him I didn’t hesitate for long. I even managed to keep it a secret up until we stood in front of the restaurant.
Like most other things that are set up to be the best in the world we found the experience a bit underwhelming, but were glad we tried it anyway. The staff here is very knowledgeable it seems and will help you prepare the meat correctly if you, like us, find the thought of cooking pieces of the worlds priciest beef by yourself a bit intimidating.
Expect to spend: The website I found said 6500JPY pr. person but we didn’t find that to be enough (we ordered a bottle of wine to share and it certainly won’t cover that) If you don’t then 6500 might not be far off.
10. chinese hotpot
Located in the Nishinari ghetto this is supposedly the best place to get hotpot in Osaka. The owner of our hostel even told us she spotted a famous sumo wrestler here once.
Expect to spend: less than 700JPY pr. person
Ramen is one of these things that you can buy literally everywhere and being qualified to name the best in the city would take years of sampling. We did quit like this little place on the way from our hostel to Tenniji station though. It was one of those places where you buy tickets from a machine outside and upon entering present them to the chef who will then go back to the kitchen and prepare your order.
Go here for the chicken and pork ramen (we found the pure pork ramen to be too fatty) and order a side of bamboo and fried rice with cheese! You will be rolling out of there.
Expect to pay: ~900JPY pr. person
12. warm heart/seven ramen
Another good ramen option. The collective staff at the place will great you loudly as you enter.
Go here for the ramen and the fried chicken.
Expect to spend: ~1100JPY for two persons.
Sometimes you just want something familiar…
13. Awajishima burger
Jonas’s favourite food is burgers so for his birthday I did some research and found this little place with raving reviews. Not technically in Osaka but a 40 min. train ride outside towards Kobe these burgers are worth the trip (from Osaka or anywhere else in the world really). I mean it! We almost didn’t go there because of this but I am so glad we did. The place doesn’t look like much from the outside (or the inside) but this guy only uses fresh, local produce and the result is magnificent!
The place is always busy but we got there a little after the lunch-rush and didn’t wait long. Detailed info here. Japanese menu only but they understand simple English phrases.
Expect to spend: We spend 2380JPY in total and we didn’t hold back on the extras (and neither should you!) Do not miss out on the onion rings. I repeat: do *not* miss out on the onion rings!
14. pizzeria il sole rosso
After having it recommended by our Italian friend who had been living in the city for a year we went to El Sole Rosso one day when we (okay I) had a sudden pizza-craving. They have delicious pizzas and the pasta dishes at the next table looked good too. The chocolate cake was nothing to write home about though.
Expect to spend: This is not a cheap place. We spent ~4300JPY and we shared a pizza, a small salad and a desert and each had a glass of wine.
15. El pancho
Another birthday favourite. Our friends brought us to this lovely, Mexican restaurant with good food, margarita pitchers and live music. Ride the tiny elevator all the way to the top and find yourself in full-blown Mexican cliché-land (and I mean that in the most positive way) as you exit.
Go here for … well we tried many things from the menu and they were all great, so weather you’re a quesadilla-girl or a taco-guy I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. The margaritas were a bit watered down though …
Expect to spend: ~2500JPY per person including drinks
I have always found food markets to be way more fun than normal markets because … well because you can eat what you buy obviously … and there are often free samples.
16. kuromon ichiban market
This market is easily the most well-known in Osaka and definately worth a trip. It’s in an covered arcade so it’s a good trip for a rainy day.
Go here for the otoro sushi. Otoro is the fattiest part of the tuna and it literally melts in your mouth – So good! Kuromon is to my knowledge the only place in the world where you can find it street side and at such an affordable price.
Extensive guide to the market here. Unlike other markets I’ve been at they are not early risers. We got there by 9am and the first stands were just opening by then.
Expect to spend: We paid 1500 JPY for 5 pieces of otoro and it was well worth it my friends!
17. korea town
Although Kuromon is the most well-known market in town the Korean Market at Tsuruhashi St. might actually be my favourite. I was having a really bad day and as you can tell from the pictures the food here managed to cheer me up!
Go on an empty stomach and try a little of this and a little of that. You won’t be sorry you did!
Expect to spend: We spend ~2200JPY on various meals and snacks.
Apart from the notorious animal cafés Osaka has plenty of other “themed” cafés where you can get your fix of Japanese quirkiness:
18. Moomin stand
The Moomin stand is a grand tribute to one of my favourite childhood characters. It is complete with merchandise and music from the show and the place is even shaped and panted like the Moomin house! We met many foreigners who didn’t quit get the Japanese obsession with Moomin but I grew up with it so I was all aboard and went all “OMG KAWAIII!!!” every time we saw something Moomin themed (which was often!)
Go here just to experience it and maybe try one of their overpriced bubble teas. Some of you may remember that my last encounter with this drink didn’t go so well, but luckily this one was sweeter and didn’t have coffee in it so it went down more smoothly.
The Moomon Stand is located in MIO Mall’s main building on the 6th floor. More info here.
Expect to spend: We spend 400JPY on the bubble tea
19. panda café
Albeit being almost right next to our hostel we didn’t discover this place ’till late in our stay. And what a shame (or maybe luck depending on how you see it) ’cause their panda-shaped, custard-filled cakes were almost as delicious as they were adorable.
Choose between: custard, chocolate, applesause, bean paste, vanilla icecream or meat. Custard is the best and sells out first so get there before noon.
Expect to spend: 300JPY pr. cake
We are old (one of us by heart and one of us by … well age) and boring and we don’t really go out, but we did have a couple of nights out at these places:
With more than 40 different kinds of Martinis on their menu anyone should have a shot at finding something they like in this cosy little spot. The drinks aren’t strong but at 500JPY a piece you can’t really complain. They also have a selection of bar foods but we didn’t try any of them.
Look to the right as you enter and you will see their “Great Wall of Shame” All you have to do to obtain a spot and get your name up among these strong-willed men and women is to drink 100 shorts over the span of a month!
Expect to spend: flat rate of 500JPY per drink! The Kamikaze was good and considerably stronger than the others.
21. torikizoku chicken bar
A mix between a bar and a restaurant this place has a fixed price on all their drinks and chicken based dishes. A great place to go before a night out with a group of friends. I believe it’s a chain, but we only went to this one.
Expect to spend: fixed price of 280JPY per item or all you can eat and drink for 2h for 2800JPY.
osaka food map:
Use the drop-down menu in the upper left corner to select a spot.