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Dig-in to Japan's Culinary Paradise

Begin your unforgettable culinary journey to Osaka with Japan Airlines today. From fancy, locally-raised steaks to fresh, first-rate seafood, discover the world-renowned food paradise that is Osaka, Japan today.
Dig-in to Japan's culinary paradise

They say that the kitchen is the heart of the home. 

With a nickname like the Nation’s Kitchen, Osaka truly stands out as the ever-beating heart of Japan’s vibrant and diverse food scene. Since ancient times, Osaka has been known for its gastronomy. And today, its position as Japan’s culinary mecca still stands.

Osaka’s location is close to the sea, and nearby mountains make it ripe for farm-to-table fare and fine dining. Many of the finest restaurants across Osaka are driven by seasonal and locally sourced ingredients that can be foraged or produced from within the region and its fruitful, surrounding agricultural areas.

Urbanites can find foodie glory at one of the many shopping arcades and street food vending districts located throughout southern downtown Osaka. These bustling shopping districts and open-air food stalls draw in crowds of hungry visitors by the thousands, and for good reason, too. Popular Japanese dishes like takoyaki, grilled scallops, and okonomiyaki are in no short supply and are best-enjoyed while hopping from stall to stall.  

Be sure to save room for a fancy steak. Japanese beef has its origins in the city of Kobe, located just outside of Osaka. Here you can explore the menus at Kobe Plaisir and Misono, where prime beef is the star of the show.  

Whether you are food-obsessed or just digging into Japanese cuisine, journey to the heart of it all in Osaka — the world’s greatest food city. 

Where to eat in Osaka: savor street food in Shinsaibashi, Kuromon Market, and Dotonbori

Where to eat in Osaka: savor street food in Shinsaibashi, Kuromon Market, and Dotonbori

Osaka’s popular shopping areas and culinary hotspots Shinsaibashi, Kuromon Market, and Dotonbori are conveniently located just steps away from Namba Station, giving you the opportunity to eat till you drop, and do some shopping and sightseeing, too. 

Shop till you drop — and eat till you drop — in Shinsaibashi 

Shop till you drop — and eat till you drop — in Shinsaibashi 

For centuries, Osaka has been referred to as The City of Kuidaore (eat till you drop) for its diverse, rich culinary scene. 

Today, that nickname still holds true. Across Osaka, hungry travelers can come upon casual food stalls, lively conveyor belt sushi joints, and farm-to-table, award-winning restaurants. Here, the odds are in your favor. And the hand you’ve been dealt is undoubtedly delicious. 

A trip to Osaka is not complete without a stop at Shinsaibashi. This neighborhood is a popular shopping destination for travelers choosing gifts and keepsakes; most shops are even tax-free.  

The area is flush with luxury department stores, locally-owned boutiques, attractions, bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and so much more, ranging from cat cafes and karaoke bars to Japanese BBQ restaurants where the specialty is yakiniku (grilled meat). You can find some of the best yakiniku in Osaka in Shinsaibashi.  

Savor massive grilled scallops at Kuromon Market

Notably, one of Osaka’s most visited travel destinations, the Kuromon Market shopping arcade is brimming with more than 100 food stalls and boasts about 25 unique restaurants. The Kuromon Market, known as Osaka’s Kitchen, has a solid place in Osaka’s culinary history. In fact, the market has been serving visitors and supplying local restaurants since 1822. 

Today, the Kuromon Market is a destination for Osaka street food. And it is here where you can find Osaka food specialties like grilled scallops. Grilled in the shell, these fire-kissed scallops are doused in savory butter and seasoned with just a touch of soy sauce  — truly a must order for seafood lovers and adventurous foodies. 

Treat your tastebuds to takoyaki, a dumpling-like, crispy snack in Dotonbori

Treat your tastebuds to takoyaki, a dumpling-like, crispy snack in Dotonbori

Dotonbori is unmissable. 

Hundreds of colorful mechanical billboards and bright neon lights line the Dotonbori Canal, bringing the hip and well-visited area to life after hours. This vibrant district, which never really closes, sets the scene for epic travel photos and enlivens the senses with the sights, sounds, and the unmistakable aromas of Japanese cuisines wafting through the air at every delightful and decadent turn. 

Eye-catching, no doubt, Dotonburi also offers something for your appetite, whatever cuisine you may be currently craving. This Osaka hotspot is packed with street-side food stalls, buzzy bars, and inviting, trendy restaurants that dish out Japanese specialties like the best tonkatsu in Osaka and drool-worthy takoyaki.    

Takoyaki, or octopus balls, are a quintessential Osaka street food found around the city throughout popular street food districts, including bustling Dotonbori. 

The famous Japanese dumpling-like snack has a crispy outer layer, the result of being cooked in a hole-filled, cast-iron mold. The spherical bites are made with dashi, a Japanese broth with no shortage of bright umami flavors, and a lump of tender octopus tentacle. 

A true delicacy, Takoyaki is commonly found throughout Osaka’s beloved street food districts, and it is not uncommon to find octopus balls on the menus at Japanese bars, as many people, both travelers, and locals alike, enjoy takoyaki alongside a refreshing, chilled beer. 

Must-eat food in Osaka: okonomiyaki, Japan’s tasty take on pancakes

Must-eat food in Osaka: okonomiyaki, Japan’s tasty take on pancakes

No need for maple syrup. Pass the sonsu, instead. 

Not your typical pancake, okonomiyaki is likely, unlike anything you have ever tasted. That is unless you’ve had the pleasure of forking into one of these savory Japanese pancakes before. 

Okonomi translates to “grilled as you like,” which is exactly what you can expect when you place your okonomiyaki order.  

Okonomiyaki is made by mixing a base of eggs, cabbage, and a yam-flour batter. Palate-pleasing additions to this hearty snack include pork, noodles, or anything else the food vendor has on hand. After all, you can get your savory pancakes as you like in Osaka. A drizzle of mayo, a Japanese-style Worcestershire sauce called sosu, bonito flakes, and seaweed are added to the top to finish it off. 

You can find this savory treat at any okonomiyaki restaurant or purchase the savory pancakes from one of the many okonomiyaki street food vendors across Osaka’s celebrated street food districts — Shinsaibashi, Kuromon Market, and Dotonbori. 

Getting to Shinsaibashi, Kuromon Market, and Dotonbori

These popular culinary hotspots — and so much more — are easily accessible by way of Namba Station. You can catch a train directly from Kansai International Airport to Namba Station; an express trip takes about 45-minutes. 

Kappo-style to farm-to-table dining: experience a once-in-a-lifetime culinary adventure in Osaka 

Kappo-style to farm-to-table dining: experience a once-in-a-lifetime culinary adventure in Osaka 

While Osaka is famous for its casual street food scene, The Nation’s Kitchen boasts a number of unique culinary experiences that range from fine dining to farm-to-table. 

Bring your appetite, and discover kappo-style dining, an intimate, chef-driven foodie adventure. Or, savor teppanyaki-style Japanese beef — of the Kobe and Wagyu varieties. It’s all on the menu in Osaka.

Kappo versus kaiseki: what’s the difference? 

Seasoned epicureans may be familiar with kaiseki — a refined method of Japanese dining that offers a seasonally driven, multi-course menu of elaborate, art-like and intricately plated dishes. 

Although kappo is similar, this cooking technique is marked by some key differences. Like its counterpart kaiseki, kappo is a multi-course meal that is left totally up to the whims and wit of the chef preparing it, which generally leads to some pretty tasty outcomes. Kappo is widely considered Osaka’s own, more laidback version of kaiseki.

Meaning “to cut and to cook,” kappo is a word for a less formal kind of cuisine that plays up the juxtaposition of the diner and the chef who is preparing and cooking the food.  

This unique dining experience provides a closeness between chef and diner as patrons are seated at the bar counters, immersed in the total culinary experience as the chef prepares fresh ingredients and plates a series of seasonally-inspired dishes right before your eyes. 

At the time of its origin, kappo was considered high-class cuisine. Today, chefs and restaurants around Osaka, formal or not, ranging from sushi spots to fine steakhouses serving up the finest cuts of premium wagyu beef, can be found practicing kappo at their establishments. 

Then and now: Japanese beef’s rise to culinary stardom in Osaka, and beyond

There’s a good chance that you have probably heard of Wagyu and Kobe beef. Maybe you have even spotted the two variations of beef on a menu somewhere near home. 

While the two are commonly referred to interchangeably, there are distinct differences between Kobe and Wagyu — although both beckon you to pick up a fork and knife. And both are high-quality cuts.  

The history of Wagyu stretches back to the late 1880s when European cattle were introduced to Japan and crossbred with native breeds. The term Wagyu refers to four breeds of Japanese beef cattle: Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Poll, and Japanese Shorthorn. Kobe, on the other hand, refers to a very particular strain of Wagyu: Tajima-Gyu.  

Tajima-Gyu is raised to strict standards in Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture  — a short distance from Osaka. When finished, Kobe is marked by its tenderness and its striking, well-marbled texture. 

Ultimately, Kobe is Wagyu, but not all Wagyu is Kobe. 

Where to get Kobe beef in Osaka

Where to get Kobe beef in Osaka

Kobe was first introduced to diners in the mid-40s when a young restaurateur by the name of Shigeji Fujioka first opened a casual restaurant called Misono in the town of Kobe, Japan. For more than 70 years, Misono has been serving high-quality Kobe beef to its customers in the city of Kobe, as well as Osaka. 

Fujioka was also the first to coin the term teppanyaki, his own unique style of grilling ingredients on an iron plate called a teppan. Today teppanyaki has a spot in the American dictionary, and restaurants and food stalls across the country cook in the teppanyaki style.  

To this day, the cattle that produce Japan’s world-famous Kobe beef are still raised in the Hyogo Prefecture. Here you can discover Kobe Plaisir, a farm-to-table restaurant driven by local ingredients sourced from around the Hyogo region. At Kobe Plaisir, premium Kobe beef cuts take center plate beside a myriad of fresh, local vegetables, herbs, sake, and grains, making this restaurant a must-visit for the locavores out there.   

Eat your heart out: Plan your trip to Osaka today 

Arriving in Osaka is simple. Choosing where your next meal will come from, well, not so much. 

The world’s first offshore airport, Osaka International Airport, also called Kansai International Airport, operates 24/7 and provides easy access to all that Osaka has to offer. Osaka is considered a hub city, making travel to nearby cities like Kobe, Kyoto, and Nara a breeze. 

Hungry travelers arriving in Osaka by way of Japan’s largest city, Tokyo, can take advantage of Japan Explorer Pass, which offers access to more than 30 cities across the country, including Osaka. A trip from Tokyo to Osaka is just an hour away, which gives you more time to explore the incredible food scene of The City of Kuidaore. Begin your unforgettable culinary journey to Osaka with Japan Airlines today.  

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