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Taste Winter in Japan! Top 5 Restaurants in Osaka for Exquisite Crab and Puffer Fish Dishes

When talking about flavors that represent winter in Japan, any list will not be complete without the mention of kani (crab) and fugu (puffer fish). Below are five handpicked restaurants where you can eat delicious kani and fugu dishes in Osaka, which is also known as the “kuidaore no machi” (a town where people eat until they drop).

1. Kani Douraku Toyonaka Shop

Kani Douraku is a famous restaurant that is marked by a signboard with a huge mechanical crab that moves. It is a specialty shop for crab, so you can savor crab in various ways, such as karaage (deep-fried), tempura, and croquette. The Kanban Ryori Kanisuki (signature kani hot pot) (4,644 JPY (incl. tax)) is an exquisite dish that will let you fully enjoy the delicious taste of crab. The secret shiro-shoyu (white soy sauce) sauce draws out the flavors, giving this dish a simple yet deep taste. In the comfort of its relaxing Japanese-style interior, relish crab dishes that you can only find in places like this.

1. Kani Douraku Toyonaka Shop

1-1-5 Shoji, Toyonaka-shi, Osaka

2. Dining Kotobiki

Dining Kotobiki is a restaurant serving crab dishes that is under the wing of a ryori ryokan (Japanese inn that is centered on cuisine). This ryori ryokan is dedicated to matsuba-gani (snow crab), and can be located in Kyotango City, facing the Sea of Japan. “Matsuba-gani” refers to the male adult zuwai-gani (snow crab), and it is one of the finest crabs available out there. At this shop, the staff go to the port directly to grab the best matsuba-gani that they can find. Recommended here is the Miyabi – Nama Matsuba-gani Full Course (16,800 JPY (incl. tax)) that you can only eat during the winter season (November – March). Please try all the ways that kani can be prepared – sashimi, grilled, hot pot, tempura, and so on.

2. Dining Kotobiki

Hankyu Grand Bldg. 28F, 8-47 Kakuta-cho, Kita-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka

3. Matsubatei

Matsubatei is a restaurant that only operates during the kani season (October – late May). The crabs bearing tags that serve as proof of their brand are hauled straight from major fishing harbors at the Sea of Japan, and then kept in the aquarium inside this restaurant. You won’t find anything fresher than that! Given this level of freshness, you must try the live crabs that are made into sashimi in the Ikekani Course – Premium – (16,000 JPY – 25,000 JPY (excl. tax and service charge)). The crab meat, spread like a blooming flower, is proof that it was alive right before it became sashimi. Please make a reservation at least a day in advance.

3. Matsubatei

4-16-10 Higashi Toyonaka-cho, Toyonaka-shi, Osaka

4. Umeda Fugunosuke

Umeda Fugunosuke is a restaurant that specializes in dishes incorporating fresh, live puffer fish delivered straight from Nagasaki – one of the leading fugu breeding areas in the country. Here, the Tessa (fugu sashimi) (1,296 JPY (incl. tax)) is famous. The slices are so thin that they are almost transparent. Though they may be extra thin, they still have a unique elasticity, and their refreshing taste is not at all inferior to wild puffer fish. Eat them with their homemade ponzu (sauce made from soy sauce and citrus juice). Meanwhile, the Tetchiri (2,138 JPY (incl. tax)) – a hot pot dish using freshly caught puffer fish – is filled with umami and vegetables, and comes with a superb zosui (porridge of fugu and vegetables) that is to be eaten at the end of the meal. This restaurant is directly operated by a puffer fish wholesale dealer, so you can expect fresh and reasonably priced fugu dishes.

4. Umeda Fugunosuke

Tsutaya Daini Bldg. 1F, 1-7-20 Sonezaki, Kita-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka

5. Kaniyoshi

Kaniyoshi is a restaurant that boasts of being a specialty spot for both kani and fugu, offering high-quality dishes at affordable prices. Its bestseller is the Kani Fugu Course (6,500 JPY (excl. tax)) that will let you eat crabs and puffer fish at the same time. Aside from their special fugu sashimi, you can also have live tora-fugu (tiger puffer fish) tetchiri (boiled) and charcoal-grilled kani. You can make a reservation for this dish up to 6:00 pm on the day that you are visiting. However, it is best to book in advance during the peak season, since the shop will surely be packed. Check out this place, and savor luxurious dishes of kani and fugu!

5. Kaniyoshi

2-2-20 Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka

Kani and fugu are high-class ingredients that become even more delicious during the cold season. People love them for their versatility, since they can be eaten as sashimi, grilled, or hot pot. You’ll become enraptured by the delicious taste of crabs and puffer fish – winter’s signature flavors!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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