Osaka has developed its own unique and intriguing food culture. Some may say that there's no point in coming to Osaka, if you don't eat these dishes! Here's a list of 5 must eat menus in Osaka.
1. Tako-yaki: Osaka's fast food?
Tako-yaki is a flour based dough grilled in a bite-sized round shape, with a piece of octopus in the center. It is said to originate in Osaka. The basic flavor is the sauce and mayonnaise, dried green seaweed and bonito flakes are often added as toppings. It is so popular in Osaka that you can find a tako-yaki specialized shop in any tourist spot in Osaka. 300 JPY per portion with 6 tako-yakis is the average price in Osaka, which is a little cheaper than in other areas of Japan.
The way they make the tako-yaki is also a must-see. The cook pours the dough in to a round shape mold and it is grilled into a round ball by turning it around using a stick. You can also get a tako-yaki machine to use at home from about 1,000 yen. If you become a fan of tako-yaki, why not try it at home too?
2. Ika-yaki: Osaka's original menu
Ika-yaki is a menu in between a crepe and an okonomi-yaki, a flour dough with squid grilled with a special press machine. A dish with the name "ika-yaki" is eaten all around Japan, but in areas other than Osaka, it usually points to a grilled squid with sweet spicy sauce. Even though the two dishes have a name in common, Osaka's ika-yaki and ika-yaki in general, are completely different things.
It uses the same sweet spicy sauce as okonomi-yaki and you can add ingredients such as cabbage and cheese as toppings. A dish with an egg added to the same ingredients as ika-yaki is sometimes referred to as "dera-yaki". Ika-yaki is sold at about 150-250JPY per portion. It is basically a fast food eaten on the spot, but it can also be served as a take-away dish.
3. Kushi-Katsu: Don't dip it in the sauce twice!
Meat and vegetables fried on a wooden stick is called kushi-katsu. It's also an important dish when talking about the food culture of Osaka. The standard price is 100JPY per stick and some of the standard ingredients are shrimp, pork, lotus root, etc. It's cheap and you can choose the ingredients you favor, so it is popular among office workers and students on their way home.
You dip the kushi-katsu in a sauce that is placed in a large bowl, before eating it. As the next customer also uses the same bowl of sauce, dipping the kushi-katsu in the sauce again after taking a bite, is hardly prohibited. If you feel that you're lacking some sauce after your first bite, use the side-dish cabbage to pour extra sauce on your kushi-katsu.
4. Okonomi-yaki: Should you grill by yourself?
Vegetables like cabbage, meat or seafood, mixed with flour dough mixed in soup stock and grilled on a hot plate is an Okonomi-yaki, an everyday meal for people in the Osaka area. There are some restaurants that have a very wide variety of topping options like cheese or rice cakes. Like tako-yaki, you can always find shops selling okonomi-yaki at local festivals.
There are 2 types of restaurants: a restaurant that will grill the okonomi-yaki for you, and a restaurant that you grill it yourself. When grilling okonomi-yaki yourself, you should mix all the ingredients in the bowl and use a "kote" to grill and flip it on the pan in front of you. It is not that difficult to cook. The moment you flip the large okonomi-yaki, you're excitement will reach its highest stage. The main flavoring is done by the sauce and mayonnaise and the finishing touch is done by sprinkling dried green seaweed and bonito flakes. It matches perfectly with beer, so whenever you drop off at Osaka, why not try it?
5. Udon-suki: A luxurious combination of udon noodles and hot pot
Osaka and other Kansai areas have very unique hot pot dishes, but the most profound hot pot dish in Osaka is "Udon-suki". The main ingredients of hot pots are usually meat or seafood, but udon-ski is different. As you can understand from its name, the main ingredient is udon noodles. As it is eaten while it's still simmering on fire, a rather thick udon is the mainstream, to prevent it from getting too soft.
Udon noodles, plentiful vegetables and other ingredients are put into the soup with a refined taste and simmered. From the pot still cooking on the heat, you can pick out the one you want to eat on your dish and take a bite. There are a variety of ingredients from vegetables like carrots, Chinese cabbage and mushrooms to seafood or other ingredients in its best season. The udon noodles and the ingredients simmering in the pot and the colorful vegetables are sure to make you hungry. It's especially recommended during the cold winter season.
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The Osaka specialties actually loved by residents have been picked up. Please try these menus when you visit Osaka.
*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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