Osaka food, including okonomiyaki and takoyaki, is famous around the world. In fact, Osaka is known as one of Japan's foodie destinations, being known for cheap and delicious dishes.
Many foreign travelers visit specialty shops to try these dishes, however, some Osaka foods aren't quite what people expect! Today, we hear the honest opinions some travelers had about their experiences with Osaka specialty dishes.
1. Osaka Food is Delicious But Expensive!
"Cheap and delicious" is basically the catchphrase of Osaka. However, for some tourists, it might not always seem that way. A woman from Taiwan who has visited Osaka before shared her experience. It begins when she decided to check out a famous Osaka Takoyaki spot, which had a rather long line.
"The people waiting in line seemed to be all tourists. I was also excited and waited patiently for my turn to order. When my turn came and I finally got to see the menu, the 10-piece takoyaki was about 800 yen. I thought it was pretty expensive, but I ordered the 10-piece anyway. It was delicious! Later, however, I asked a Japanese friend about it. They told me that it was indeed expensive, and had it been an Osaka local, they probably would not have bought it."
Takoyaki stands at tourist attractions might be of high quality, however, the prices also tend to be rather high. The average small stall usually sells takoyaki at 8 pieces for 400 yen, which is much cheaper. Perhaps the catchphrase "cheap and delicious" doesn't apply to tourist attractions?
2. Not Enough Punch!
Next, we speak to a man from Indonesia, and a lover of spicy foods. While he enjoys the peppery local dishes of his Indonesian hometown, it seems there were no dishes in Osaka that could compare. "I really missed eating spicy foods," he says sadly.
"Osaka food is delicious, but for me, there weren't enough spicy dishes. Even when I was told that a certain dish was spicy, for me, it was not. Even the Indonesian dishes in Japan aren't very spicy. I actually carry around my own little bottle of chili pepper so I could add it myself when going out to eat."
In Japan, there aren't many dishes that use spices such as chili pepper. And compared to the dishes of Southeast Asia, even Japanese dishes that use chili peppers may seem like they don't use any at all. Carrying your own bottle of hot pepper may be a pretty good idea!
3. An Osaka Food That's Perfect for Vegetarians!
Next, we hear from a vegetarian woman from Russia, who eats no meat or fish. Living in Osaka, however, she felt was lacking in vegetarian options.
"Katsuobushi (fish flakes) is often used in Japanese food, and many Japanese dishes contain fish. It seems fish is an essential food for Japanese people. Even many convenience store items seem to have meat additives in them."
The dish that saved this woman was none other than kushikatsu skewers!
"Kushikatsu skewers have a variety of meat, fish, and even vegetables, so even vegetarians can eat there. It's not like you have to share an individual skewer with anyone, so I was happy to be able to order whatever I wanted to eat. Now whenever I eat out, I choose a kushikatsu place!"
That makes sense! Kushikatsu restaurants certainly do have a lot of vegetables, including onions, eggplant, okra, and pumpkin. If you are a vegetarian wondering what foods you can enjoy in Osaka, then kushikatsu might be the best option for you, too! However, please note that eggs or dairy may be used in the batter, so if you follow a vegan lifestyle, you may want to ask the staff before ordering.
4. Is This Half-Cooked?
Okonomiyaki is a popular Osaka gourmet dish for foreign tourists. It is a dish that mixes fluffy batter with plenty of cabbage, shrimp, pork, and many other ingredients. It is grilled, topped with mayonnaise and sauce, and smells and tastes so delicious, you just can't help but smile.
Let's hear from a man from Taiwan, who stood in line to try some authentic Osaka okonomiyaki. Though super excited and patiently waiting for a while, when he finally received his order, the dish that came out seemed different from the okonomiyaki he expected.
"It seemed to be a specialty shop, however, the okonomiyaki I got was nothing like a clean, round shape, but more like a collapsed mountain? (Laughs) Wondering if it was really okonomiyaki, I decided to cut it in half. When I did, the ingredients inside looked as if they had melted. I thought it might not have been fully cooked, but when I looked around me, everyone else seemed to be enjoying theirs. So I decided to try it anyway."
As for how it tasted..!?
"It was actually really delicious! Of course, it was thoroughly cooked and fluffy. I tasted the cabbage more than the dough, which was sweet and delicious. I was really impressed!"
The texture, taste, and length of cooking okonomiyaki may be completely different depending on the shop. Some are shaped perfectly, while others may look more like a "mountain," as our visitor from Taiwan discovered. Authentic okonomiyaki has many different flavors and kinds, so by all means, do try it at least once when you visit!
Enjoy A Variety of Osaka Food Specialties
Japan has a huge array of regional dishes from north to south. Osaka, once heralded as the "kitchen of the world," developed its own unique food culture, using different kelps and broths from Tokyo and other regions of Japan. Eventually, that food culture evolved to combine that broth with wheat flour, which has since developed into some very popular dishes.
There are a variety of reasonably priced dishes to try, so by all means, come and enjoy the diversity of Osaka's delicious dishes!
*The above article is based on information from May 2020
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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