Eat 'Til You Drop! 20 Recommended Places to Eat in Osaka's Dotonbori Area
If you've been to Japan before, Osaka's Dotonbori area will be one of the first places that comes to mind due to its reputation as an exceptional culinary destination. The inexpensive, delicious foods there have been highly popularized in travel guidebooks for good reason. This is an updated guide for places to eat in Dotonbori for every occasion, from lively gatherings to casual dates.
Sep 24 2019 (Sep 25 2020)
10 Recommended Restaurants in Dotonbori, a City for Feasting
Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake, quite different from Western pancakes. This dish is prepared by frying a flour batter with any assortment of vegetables, eggs, meat, and seafood on a cast iron grill. Mizuno is a famous okonomiyaki restaurant that has been around for over 70 years, and long lines are frequently found extending outside of the restaurant.
It's not uncommon to wait at least 30 minutes before getting in; however, the long lines aren't just for show and you'd be missing out not to visit this restaurant. Menu options include the Mizunoyaki (pork, squid, scallops, shrimp, octopus, and oyster), Yamaimoyaki (yam, scallops, roasted pork), and Negiyaki (green onions, pork, kimchi), and many more.
The store's specialty is the Mizunoyaki. It is fairly standard, but the dish gives you an opportunity to try a hearty variety of different ingredients. You can even watch how it's made, which is a sight that's sure to rouse your appetite.
2. Kushikatsu Daruma - Dotonbori Branch
Kushikatsu Daruma is a restaurant located just by the intersection of Dotonbori Street and Sennichimae Doguyasugi Shopping Street. The first thing you will spot here is likely the large store sign with an exclamatory "no double dipping in the sauce!" written across it. Kushikatsu (deep-fried skewered meats and vegetables) restaurants are known for their strong aromas, loud atmosphere, and meaty dishes, and is a must-experience item on any visitor's itinerary.
From store specialties like the Ganso Kushikatsu tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet) to authentic beni shoga (red pickled ginger), both of which originated in Osaka, a variety of choices can be found on the menu. The restaurant uses their own exclusive blend of oil for their deep fryer, which results in a lighter and more refreshing flavor than you'll find at most kushikatsu restaurants. The fine, crunchy crumbs of the breading, and the simple, palatable sauce go extremely well together, and you'll likely find it difficult to stop yourself from eating more.
3. Kinryu Ramen - Dotonbori Branch
Among the many ramen restaurants in Osaka, Kinryu Ramen is one of the more well-known establishments in the city. The dragon figurehead perched atop the store leaves quite an impression, so even those without a great sense of direction will have little difficulty finding the spot. Because it is open 24 hours a day, it's the perfect place for a late-night dinner.
The restaurant keeps their menu simple, offering two choices between plain ramen and chashumen (ramen noodles with marinated pork slices). The unostentatious toppings are flavored in a soup made from slow-cooked, rich pork bone broth. Free toppings including kimchi, chives, and garlic are available to fine-tune the ramen to your preference.
4. Kani Doraku - Main Branch
From high-end crab Kaiseki cuisine (traditional Japanese course cuisine) to crab sushi, Kani Doraku specializes in preparing various offerings of crab cuisines. The larger-than-life, mechanical crab at the main entrance has become a popular sightseeing symbol of the city. The restaurant is adjacent to Dotonbori River, so you'll have a nice view of it while dining at the restaurant.
As the main branch of the franchise, they primarily serve high-end crab dishes, but they also have an outdoor food stall in front of the restaurant with some budget-friendly options. At the restaurant, you'll find some exotic dishes to choose from, including the charcoal-grilled red king crab and the kani miso (crab innards) grilled in the shell. They even offer takeout for the crab sushi for you to enjoy later.
5. Jiyuken - Namba Main Branch
Jiyuken is a long-standing establishment known for their specialty curry, with a reputation that extends across the entire country. Their tried and true formula of combining curry with rice and topping the entire dish with an egg hasn't changed for nearly 100 years since the franchise's founding. The seemingly timeless dish is still just as popular.
The secret to their mildly spicy and flavorful curry is said to be in the dashi (stock broth), which is made from a secret recipe. Although you might be a little taken back to hear the combination of dashi with curry, this mild savory flavor is what gives the curry its unique flavor. Try this curry to get a taste of a curry that has been served since the Meiji era (1868-1912).
6. 551 Horai
551 Horai is a great place to grab a quick bite of Chinese food, and foods like shumai (dumplings) and gyoza (fried dumplings) are perfect for when you're on the go. The recommended option here is the butaman (steamed pork bun). Each bun is handmade and stuffed with generous amounts of grilled pork and onions.
Although the popular brand's products are sold at airports and on bullet trains in the Kansai area, you can get a taste of the piping hot and fresh ones on the spot here to enjoy them at the best of their quality. They tend to sell out by closing time, so be sure to arrive early if you want to ensure that you don't end up leaving empty-handed.
7. Kin No Torikara
Kin no Toriaka is a karaage (fried chicken) specialty restaurant that has expanded to many locations across the country. The skinless thigh meat of the juicy domestic chicken is skewered, which means it can be eaten on the go. Everything is prepared in the store, so you can always expect a fresh batch of the highly popular karaage.
The karaage comes in three sizes, so you can make a choice depending on how many people you're looking to share with, or how many of these you think you can devour. Toppings include original spice, mayonnaise, and chili sauce, just to name a few. They can also be combined together - coming up with your perfect flavor is part of the fun of getting these karaage!
8. Niku no Marukatsu
Enjoying horumonyaki (grilled pork/beef offals) in Osaka is something to consider for those who enjoy unconventional cuts of meat. Niku no Marukatsu is one of the more famous restaurants in the city, and their meats are sold on skewers, so they're a great option to snack on as you walk around. The dish is completed with a sweet dipping sauce that has been constantly improving over the years.
The menu is cut-and-dry, consisting of three meaty items: offals, pork liver, or a mix of the two. Lightly grilled skewers are prepared in the store, then grilled to finish as soon as you place an order. The thorough preparation and savory sauce make the gamey flavor milder, so they can be enjoyed even by those who are generally reluctant to eat offals or liver. In addition to the skewers, the meats are also available to purchase by weight.
Grilled cabbage at Kyabetuyaki has a reputation as a kind of soul food in Osaka. First, a batter of flour dissolved in water is laid out on the teppan (cast iron grilling pan), followed by a layer of cabbage, tenkasu (tempura crumbs), and an egg. To top it off, they add some sauce and fold it in half. The dish fits nicely in your hand, so you can also enjoy it while walking around.
The cabbage is julienned by hand to try and retain as much of the cabbage's sweet moisture as possible. The batter is made with dashi, and its soft and chewy texture is a perfect match for the cabbage. It also happens to be very cost friendly, so you can pick up a couple without spending too much money.
10. Sakamachi no Ten-don
Sakamachi no Ten-don is a storied and well-known restaurant whose ten-don (rice bowls with tempura) has been endeared by locals since its founding in 1952. The small, quaint shop has only seven counter seats, which are usually always filled. They're only open during lunch hours, and close as soon as they sell out, so you'll definitely want to arrive early if you're considering a visit.
The menu is very specialized, and consists of ten-don, kakiage-don (fried small shrimp and vegetables on rice), and akadashi (soup made with red miso). The classic ten-don is a simple and traditional dish served with two pieces of shrimp and nori (dried seaweed). The refreshing sauce impeccably balances the sweet and savory flavors, and even those with smaller appetites should have no problem devouring this dish. The akadashi goes especially well the ten-don, so be sure to try them together.
5 Recommended Takoyaki Stands in Dotonbori
1. Takoyaki Juhachiban - Dotonbori Branch
Takoyaki Juhachiban serves takoyaki (fried batter balls with octopus) with the ideal texture: crunchy on the outside, and gooey, moist and delicious on the inside. The batter is made by blending dashi, milk, octopus, beni shoga and pieces of shrimp. Once some tenkasu is thrown on top, the batter is fried into perfect little spheres in a cast iron pan with hemispherical molds.
You have a choice between sauce, sauce with mayonnaise, and salt to go with your takoyaki. You can also choose between a set of six or ten balls, depending on your appetite. Though the salted option is rather unusual, it works quite well at Juhachiban because of how the salt complements the batter.
2. Acchichi Honpo - Dotonbori Branch
As far as takoyaki stands go, Acchichi Honpo is one of the most particular shops when it comes to using the highest quality of octopus. Instead of using the common, cheaper variant of frozen octopus, they always go for the fresh catch from the Osaka Central Market every morning. The octopus is so fresh that it can even be eaten raw, and their texture is tender, meaty, and juicy.
At Acchichi Honpo, they use an original sauce made in Higashi Osaka and a batter prepared with dashi that is slowly extracted from katsuo (bonito) for a deeper, savory flavor. The takoyaki is delicious, whether you prefer it hot off the pan or after it cools off a little if you are sensitive to hot foods.
3. Takoyakikun - Namba Branch
Toppings, which include aonori (a type of seaweed), katsuobushi (dried bonito shavings), sauce, and mayonnaise are laid out so you can put as much of each topping as you like. Orders start from as few as 4 takoyaki balls, so you can get anything from a light snack to a full meal depending on your appetite.
4. Wanaka - Namba Branch
Wanaka has a unique reputation for their takoyaki that remain delicious even after they've cooled off. Although the restaurant is quite famous now, it is still enjoyed by locals. The fine flour, touch of dashi, and a bit of salt rounds out an exquisite batter. Shio shoga (salted ginger) is used instead of the conventional beni shoga to give it its signature flavor.
The takoyaki is very delicious on its own but Wanaka takes it a step further with their quality of toppings. Choices include a classic sauce prepared with their own unique recipe, a specialty salt that is said to go well with the batter, a mixture of dashi and soy sauce, ponzu (citrus-seasoned soy sauce), and a savory spicy sauce, all of which have been chosen to complement the flavors of the takoyaki batter.
5. Aizuya - Namba Branch
Aizuya's Namba Branch is known as the location where takoyaki originated, and their famous takoyaki are made without beni shoga or green onions. Although the takoyaki is made with the most basic ingredients, their unembellished flavor is popular even with locals who have access to the hefty selection of takoyaki stands in Osaka. The takoyaki served here are slightly smaller than average and pair nicely with beer as a bite-sized dish.
At Aizuya, they also serve a dish known as radioyaki, which is a predecessor to takoyaki. Instead of octopus, the ball is filled with beef tendon stew and konnyaku (made from the konjac plant), offering a slight variation from mainstream takoyaki. Visit this restaurant for a taste of takoyaki's roots.
If you fall in love with takoyaki and want to bring it home with you, order a takoyaki grill, and use the takoyaki recipe in this article!
5 Recomended Places to Get Dessert in Dotonbori
1. Andrew's Eggtart - Dotonbori Branch
Andrew's Eggtart is a bakery franchise started by an Englishman in Macau, whose egg tarts became especially famous. The shop gets its name from Andrew Stow, who runs Lord Stow's Bakery in Macau. The now established chain has 11 branches, primarily centered in the Kansai region.
The handmade egg tarts are made with a rich blend of fresh cream and eggs, and the flaky crust and smooth custard filling go perfectly together. The store also serves a diverse array of other flavored tarts as well.
2. Junkissa American
Junkissa American is an old-fashioned cafe that has been around for over 21 years. The small cafe has weathered the years alongside the city of Osaka and has a strong local following. Although the interior is quite lavish, the cafe has a relaxed atmosphere that can possibly be attributed to its lengthy history in the area.
There is a glass showcase inside the restaurant where you'll find desserts made with colorful arrangements of fresh fruits. The Fruits à La Mode is the crowning jewel of these desserts, with an assortment of melons, strawberries, oranges, watermelon, and fresh cream arranged on a fancy oval glass dish.
3. Ganso Purinya Mattari Purin - Dotobori Branch
Ganso Purinya takes both its name and livelihood on a single pudding product known as Mattari Purin. Mattari is a well-known brand in Japan, and the store attracts many visitors from afar. The pudding is also a very popular gift.
The pudding is prepared with a carefully selected assortment of ingredients consisting of eggs, milk, and sugar, and the rich flavor and smooth texture is heavenly. Although pudding in Japan is almost always made with caramel, this pudding is made without it, and the pure, delicious simplicity of the fresh ingredients is something you'll never get tired of.
4. Pierre Lotti Cafe
Pierre Lotti Cafe is a Turkish ice cream specialty store where a Turkish native performs an ice cream serving demonstration for each order. Watching the process from start to finish is an exciting experience that builds up anticipation until you ultimately get to dig into the finished product.
Turkish ice cream has a unique, stretchy consistency, which makes eating it all the more enjoyable. The viscous aftertaste caps off an entirely new kind of ice cream experience that you'll struggle to liken to anything you've had before. Consider trying out the Turkish novelty while roaming the streets of Dotonbori.
Minamoalley is a chocolate brand that started small in Osaka, then spread across Japan before expanding globally. The brand offers luxury chocolates in an accessible price range, and the plentiful selection of flavors and the designs specific to special events and seasonal occasions make minamoalley an excellent choice for a gift.
Being a brand proud of its roots in Dotonbori, minamoalley offers chocolates with some of Osaka's city symbols. For instance, the okonomiyaki chocolate is made with a crunchy, nutty chocolate decorated to look like the popular soul food, and even comes with a little spatula for good measure. The takoyaki chocolates are actually milk cookies, and even come in a boat-shaped plate that should be familiar if you've gotten a chance to try some of the city's famous takoyaki.
Looking for A Complete Culinary Experience? Look No Further than Dotonbori!
Although the city is especially well-known for its takoyaki and okonomiyaki, Osaka is also home to a significant repertoire of Japanese delicacies. Even within Osaka, Dotonbori is a culinary hotspot where the fierce competition has resulted in a high concentration of honed flavors. No other city has anything quite like it. If you're visiting Osaka, how about a culinary tour of the city? But be warned, once you've tried these foods once, you'll learn a craving for them that you won't get rid of easily!
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Translated and republished with permission from: SPIRA (formerly known as Relux Magazine)
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.