15 Must-Visit Restaurants in Osaka, Japan | Solo Female Travel
The Japanese language has some beautiful sounding words. Words like Zen, Haiku, Sensei, Hanami, just to name a few. Add another beautiful word to the list: kuidaore. The literal translation is ‘eat till you go bankrupt.’ This is an apt word because Japan offers such diverse and delicious dishes on its platter. But kuidaore is not used to describe any experience in just any city in Japan. It is specifically referred to as the food of Osaka, and rightly so.
Osaka, the second-largest city in Japan, is hailed as Japan’s Kitchen, and rightly so. The number of mouth-watering variety of dishes this city has to offer will blow your mind. Food in Osaka almost overshadows the otherwise beautiful and vibrant city filled with fun-loving people. You can spend your entire trip just eating at different places in Osaka, and you will still be happy. Hey, I am kidding. Do enjoy Osaka in all its fineries, and to help you plan your first solo trip to Osaka, you can read my blogs on My Ultimate Guide to Osaka and 20 Non Touristy things to do in Osaka.
The best place to experience Osaka’s food culture is the Dotonbori district near Namba station. The iconic area is most visited in Osaka and is known for its neon lights, nightlife, and food. Other areas are Shinsekai, Kitanshinchi, and Osaka station, just to name a few.
Though options are plenty, I have narrowed it down so that it helps you navigate better. So, here goes the list of 15 must-visit places to eat in this city of the Kansai region.
1. Honke Ootako
While this dish is readily available everywhere you look, I found a small restaurant in Dotonbori that serves some of the best takoyaki in Osaka. A favourite street food is fried and diced octopus inside a batter, which is then fried to a crisp. It is served with a dash of a sweet sticky sauce, mayonnaise, bonito flakes, and nori. At Honke Ootako, the hot takoyaki has big pieces of well-seasoned octopus inside, and the soft inside perfectly complements the crunchy outside. The takoyaki is then drizzled with Worcestershire sauce, mayo, and bonito flakes.
Address: 1-4-16 Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka.
2. Mizuno and Kiji Umeda
The other street food synonymous with Osaka is okonomiyaki. The street style savoury pancakes are broadly made in either the Hiroshima style (several layers of batter, cabbage, pork, ramen noodles, fried egg) or the Osaka style, a more popular choice. Okonomiyaki, which is akin to bubble and squeaks, mixes cabbage and pork into a batter, which is then grilled on both sides on an iron girdle and then served with toppings like sweet sauce, scallions, and seaweed powder.
While I tried choosing between Mizuno and Kiji, I failed in the end. It was impossible. But I will tell you why it wasn’t easy to choose between these two establishments.
Mizuno is a long-established restaurant in Osaka’s Dotonbori area. If you are lucky enough to get the counter seats, you can see the chef making your okonomiyaki for you. The recipe is their own, and they use fresh ingredients that they procure from Kuromon Ichiba, Osaka’s seafood paradise.
I had to also include Kiji on the list because of the delicious in-house sauce that they drizzle over the crispy outside but soft inside okonomiyaki. Read my blog on 10 must-foods to try in Japan to know more about okonomiyaki.
Mizuno: 1-4-15, Dotombori, Chuo, Osaka
Kiji: 1-1-90 Oyodonaka, Umeda Sky Building, Osaka
3. Tayu Tayu
Yakitori is skewered meat, mostly chicken that is grilled to perfection before being served. Pair it with a Japanese beer, and it is a winning combination.
But the story in Tayu Tayu in Namba is a little different. This cramped and small izakaya (a Japanese bar that serves finger food with its alcoholic beverages) is a pork-lover’s delight. The skewers meat here is always pork and well every part imaginable! Sounds disgusting? Actually, far from it. The rich and fatty flavours of the pork leave a great aftertaste in your mouth.
Address: 1-4-8 Dojima, Kita-Ku, Osaka
4. Any conveyor belt sushi
While Japan has brought out many new ideas to make the dining experience even better, the conveyor belt is right at the top. Though this is found elsewhere in the country, it was first ideated in Osaka.
Well, the concept is simple. You enter the restaurant, take your seat, and see a conveyor belt in front of you with different dishes under a transparent cloche. Take whatever your heart desires and eat till you are full. How much you pay depends on the number of plates accumulated on your table.
While each conveyor belt restaurant in Osaka has its own charm, I would advise you to go to Kaitenzushi rokusen Shinsekai-ten. It is just a 5-minute walk from the Shinimamiya station, and along with the usual menu items, they also have amazing ice-cream. If you visit Osaka during the blooming of cherry blossoms, you can find the restaurant walls covered in pink and white hues, and it looks absolutely breathtaking.
Address: 2-1-26 Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa, Osaka
5. Conrad Osaka hotel
As a female solo traveller, street food is always your go-to. Easy to get and fast to eat. But after a long day of travelling, all you need is some self-pampering, and to do that, you must head to Conrad Osaka. This 40th-floor restaurant lets you soak in the city of Osaka while enjoying amazing sushi and teppanyaki. A teppanyaki is a form of cooking steaks in the traditional Japanese way. Be sure to try out their wagyu, which will melt in your mouth.
Address: Conrad Osaka, 3-2-4 Nakanoshima, Kita, Osaka
6. Shimada Shoten
If you come to Japan, sake should be on your priority list of things to try out. Sake is arguably the most famous alcohol in Japan, and little did I know that there was a whole tradition of drinking it. If you are a novice at this like me, Shimada Shoten is the place you should be.
The quaint shop is home to not only the best sakes in Osaka but in the country. Enter the shop and ask for a sake tasting, if you don’t know Japanese, there are people there who can guide you in English. You will be led a ladder into the basement, where you will find hundreds of bottles of sake. Take your seat and let them know which sakes you intend to taste. You pay per serving here, so try to taste as many varieties as you can.
Along with the variety on display, the prices per serving are meager. So drink to your heart’s content. You can learn more about Japan’s tea traditions here.
Address: 3-5-1 Itachibori, Nishi-Ku, Osaka.
8. Hoshino coffee
No one comes to Japan and leaves without tasting their heavenly airy and jiggly pancakes. And if you are curious about the adorable and ‘Instagrammable’ pancake that jiggles like a baby’s bottom when you slap it, head over to Hoshino coffee and order one for breakfast.
They bake it fresh for you when you order, so you have to wait for around 20 minutes for it. But the best things in life are worth waiting for, right? The souffle pancake, which feels like a soft air in your mouth, is covered in whipped cream and served with fresh and huge strawberries, a dollop of ice cream, and strawberry sauce. Yes, it is truckloads of calories indeed, but what are vacations for. Maybe take medicine for digestion afterward if that helps. But first, delve into a piece of heaven head-on. While I tried their classic, you can also go for other options.
Address: 3-10-11 Minamesemba Chuo, Osaka
9. Cafe Osaka Chakai
Located on Osaka’s longest shopping street, Tenjinbashi-Suji, this cute cafe serves one of the best matcha teas I have ever tasted. The friendly owner who spoke English and patiently spoke about the traditional tea ceremonies in Japan (Yes, I ask many questions) was another reason why I loved this place.
Once you place your order, you can choose from an array of handmade cups you want to drink your matcha tea from. Once your order arrives, the people at the cafe will show you the best way to mix your matcha and drink it. Amidst the bustling city, this cafe will give you a sense of calm, and you would not want to leave this place.
Address: 2-1-25 Temmabashi, Kita-Ku, Osaka.
10. Kuromon Ichiba market
Well though not technically just a restaurant, a trip to Kuromon Ichiba Market is a must if you visit Osaka. The market is where you get all fresh produce, and even restaurants around the city come here to buy fresh products.
In the crowded market, which is often referred to as Osaka’s pantry, you also find small stalls selling local delicacies, and if you love seafood, these stalls will make you fall in love with them. Try out some juicy octopuses with quail eggs in their heads, called tako tamago, grilled lobsters, and grilled octopuses. Whatever you want, the market will have it for you.
Address: 2 Chome-4-1 Nipponbashi, Chuo Ward, Osaka
11. Kushikatsu JanJan
Kushikatsu is a dish of skewered well anything deep-fried. It ranges from your quintessential chicken, pork, cheese to vegetables to even desserts. This is another gem that Osaka offers, and I dare you to leave without trying out this delicacy.
In JanJan, you get to choose your own flavours, but my advice would be to go for the platter, which involves an array of kushikatsus. It is like a box of chocolates that surprises you in every bite. There are about 15 kushikatsu in the assorted platter, ranging from juicy chicken, succulent pork to okra, and even chocolates and marshmallows.
After you take your seat, they will give you guidelines about eating the kushikatsu. The sauce with it is placed on a table and is shared by many. So, you definitely cannot double-dip. But if you find that there’s not enough sauce after taking a bite, you are provided with a piece of lettuce, which you can use as a spoon and which you are advised to eat. The kushikatsu, though deep fried, does not feel oily. If you are an adventurous eater, JanJan also gives you options like crickets and frogs.
Address: 3-3-12, Ebisuhigashi Naniwa-Ku, Osaka.
12. Kani Doraku
If you visit Dotonbori in Osaka, you cannot miss the huge crab with moving limbs. Though the chain has spread across Japan, the original store in Dotonbori still draws huge crowds. Though there are over 300 hundred seats in the multi-storey restaurant, it is usually difficult to get a seat, especially in the non-smoking area. So, I would always advise on a reservation. And I had casually strolled up to the shop one evening on my visit to Dotonbori and was quickly told that they had run out of crab for the day! That’s how fast they sell out. So the next day, I hurriedly went there at 11 in the morning, and I am so glad I did.
The main attraction here is the king crab, and let me tell you this, Kani Doraku serves the best king crab you can ever imagine. The soft, buttery texture of the crab with the charred flavour from the grill was just divine, and this should be on your list of must-visit places, no matter what.
As we all know, most of the sushi we have seen or eaten in Japan or elsewhere is nigiri, a ball of sticky rice usually with fish as the topping and sprinkled with nori. Osaka decided to give nigiri a twist and came up with another dish called hako-zushi. This has all the sushi elements, but instead of the usual oval sushi, this is flattened and made into a square.
To taste this sushi, it is best to head over to where it originated: Yoshino. This place, which has been around for 170 years, is a little pricey, but sometimes it is ok to spend a little extra to be a part of that authentic experience.
The one thing I have realised while trying out delicacies in Japan is that the country has the best restaurants and even Michelin star ones in the unlikeliest places, and Takama is just that. Serving one of the best sobas in the city, this is the place to be if you love soba.
They serve just two types of soba: Mori and Inaka, and I think what makes both these sobas so delicious is the high-quality flour they get from the Fukui Prefecture. The dining area is small, with just one big table and ten chairs around it. Even though it’s a Michelin star restaurant, the price of the delicious soba is pretty affordable.
Address: 7-12-14 Tenjimbashi, Kita-Ku, Osaka.
If you are familiar with Japanese food, you must have come across a dish called omurice. Simply put, it is a gooey half fried egg on a bed of fried rice with demi-glaze on top.
While the food has gained popularity all over Japan, little does anyone know that it originated in Osaka in a restaurant called Hokkyokusei. The restaurant has been standing at the same spot since 1922, and I found that unlike other places that are now popular for their Omurice, Hokkyokusei’s original recipe has a thin layer of egg on top of their rice mixed with ketchup.
The restaurant is quiet small, and in all probability, you will have to share your table with someone else. If you love omurice, this is the best place to try out the original recipe.
Address: 2 Chome-7-27 Nishishinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka.
In Osaka, you definitely face a problem of plenty. Too many delicacies, too little time. So, this list will help you savour everything to your heart’s desires and leave Osaka a few pounds heavier but definitely happier.
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.