Join us on a delightful one-day food tour in Osaka, Japan, exploring an endless array of culinary delights, from Michelin-starred restaurants to delightful crab meat buns in Dotonbori. Indulge in Instagram-worthy pancakes, visit popular cake shops, and unwind at themed cafes. Nini, a Taiwanese writer living in Osaka, will share insider tips as we embark on this scrumptious journey!
Photo credits: KKday, Klook, PRTIMES, Interviewee (Wekizato Bunbu-an / Sukiyaki Kitamura / Cafe Mog / Kani Doraku / Tawanico)
Foodie's Paradise! Taiwanese Writer Nini Relishes Life With Osaka's Culinary Delights
Meet Nini, a Taiwanese writer for LIVE JAPAN, who has spent over 8 years in Japan, half of which were in Osaka, the culinary haven. With a passion for food, she loves discovering Osaka's gastronomic gems, especially desserts, afternoon tea, themed cafes, and sukiyaki. Join us as we accompany Nini on a food-filled adventure in Osaka, indulging in a day of delightful feasting!
Tips for a One-Day Food Adventure in Osaka
Osaka is abundant with culinary delights, so much so that in Japanese, it's often called the "City of Indulgence," where you can eat until you drop. People are willing to spend a fortune to indulge in its delectable offerings! Nini has some tips she'd like to share to ensure your food journey goes smoothly. So before you dive into the feasting, let's learn how to make the most of your food adventure!
Research Restaurants and Make Reservations
"I suggest researching and making reservations for the restaurants you want to try. This serves two purposes: firstly, it helps you avoid wasting time searching for a place to eat, and secondly, with the growing number of tourists in Japan, many restaurants get crowded, and without a reservation, you might end up waiting in line for popular eateries, or even miss out on dining there if you arrive too late."
Additionally, Nini advises everyone to try to arrive a bit early, even with a reservation. If you anticipate being late or need to cancel last minute, it's considerate to inform the restaurant to avoid causing any inconvenience.
Pay Attention to Restaurant Space and Dining Rules
Nowadays, many internet-famous eateries may have smaller dining areas, which could prove inconvenient when you have luggage, a stroller, or a large group. As you pick the restaurants you want to visit, remember to check if they're spacious enough to accommodate your needs.
Also, be aware that some restaurants have specific dining time restrictions. Even if no lines are outside, they may remind you when your allotted dining time is up. It's essential to be aware of such rules beforehand to avoid any feelings of disappointment or frustration.
Maximize the Use of Transportation Passes for Cost-Effective Fun
Having a transportation pass can be incredibly beneficial when planning your itinerary, as you won't have to worry about the distance between attractions or restaurants! For instance, the "Osaka Subway and Bus 1-Day Pass" covers almost all the major sights and restaurant locations in Osaka.
Nini's food adventure is a perfect example of how you can get the most value out of it, saving time, money, and energy - a triple win! And there's no need to purchase individual tickets or recharge the pass, making it a convenient and budget-friendly option for every tourist's pocket.
Nini adds, "If your itinerary includes visiting multiple tourist attractions, I highly recommend considering the 'Osaka Amazing Pass.' This pass offers not only free entry to popular sightseeing spots but also special discounts at designated restaurants. By using this pass, you can save a considerable amount on transportation, entrance fees, and dining expenses, making it an ideal choice for those who want to thoroughly enjoy all that Osaka has to offer without breaking the bank."
Embodying the Spirit of Osaka's "Indulgence" - A One-Day Foodie Tour in Osaka
- Total Time: Approximately 13 hours (7 food stops + 2 sightseeing spots)
- Visited Areas: Kuromon Market, Namba, Hommachi, Osaka Castle Park, Dotonbori, Shinsaibashi, Umeda.
9:00 AM - Explore Osaka's Kitchen: Kuromon Market & A Nostalgic Breakfast at a Vintage Cafe
Kuromon Market is a lively 580-meter-long covered shopping street, home to around 150 shops offering a wide array of seafood, fresh fish, vegetables, meat stalls, and delightful snacks. Here, you can indulge in freshly grilled seafood, fugu sashimi (pufferfish), oden (Japanese hotpot), tamagoyaki (rolled omelet), and delicious daifuku rice cake, among many other delectable treats. The variety of options available is awe-inspiring!
After buying your favorite treats, you can even sit down at the Kuromon Market Tourist Information Center and enjoy them comfortably. As one of Osaka's famous tourist attractions, Kuromon Market caters to a diverse crowd. Despite being a local, Nini has visited it only once during her time in Osaka.
However, the market is accustomed to welcoming international visitors and offers helpful signage in multiple languages, making it a must-visit spot for anyone exploring Osaka for the first time!
Nini says, "For those who appreciate a hearty breakfast, I recommend trying some of the nostalgic coffee shops. Near Kuromon Market, you can visit Ibuki Coffee Shop, or head to Marufuku Coffee Shop Sennichimae Honten, located close to Dotonbori and Nipponbashi. These retro coffee houses open as early as 7 or 8 in the morning, and their elegant and charming decor sets the perfect ambiance. They offer light breakfast options like toast paired with coffee or tea. If you're intrigued, give them a try!"
11:00 AM - Popular Line-worthy Pancakes at Cafe Mog Namba
After strolling through Kuromon Market, take a 7-minute walk to Pancake Cafe Mog Namba and enjoy a delightful brunch! This cozy country-style American pancake eatery offers a variety of flavors, from sweet to savory, including unique options like Tiramisu Pancake, Toasted Marshmallow Pancake, Cheese Pancake, Matcha Pancake, and more.
They also come in regular and smaller sizes, so if you don't want to indulge too much, you can go for the smaller, more budget-friendly option. It's no wonder so many visitors consider the cafe's pancakes are worth lining up for!
Nini notes, "Cafe Mog's shop is not very large, tucked away in a small side street, so you need to pay attention not to miss it. I arrived shortly after it opened, so I didn't have to wait in line. However, when I left around lunchtime, it was already crowded with people. I recommend coming early to avoid the crowd!"
Pancake Cafe Mog Nambaパンケーキカフェ mog 難波店
- Address Nanka Kaikan Bldg. 1F, 3-7-9 Namba, Chuo-ku, Osaka
・Osaka Metro Midosuji Line / Namba Station - 2-minute walk (99m)
・Kintetsu Namba Line / Osaka Namba Station - 4-minute walk (260m)
・Nankai Main Line / Namba Station - 4-minute walk (280m)
・Hours: 9:30 AM - 9:00 PM (Last Order at 8:20 PM)
- Breakfast sets only from 9:30 AM to 11:00 AM.
- For detailed hours, visit the official website.
・Closed: Open daily
・Credit cards accepted: VISA, MASTERCARD, AMEX, JCB
・Website: <a href="https://mog.foodre.jp/">https://mog.foodre.jp/</a> (Japanese)
1:00 PM - Visit the Michelin One-Star Kaiseki Restaurant Ajikitcho Bunbuan
Ajikitcho Bunbuan is a well-established kaiseki restaurant that opened its doors in 1970. Not only do they emphasize seasonal ingredients, but their flavors and presentation also exude an elegant simplicity. The restaurant's interior features rock gardens and lush greenery, creating a serene and enjoyable dining atmosphere that pleases both the taste buds and the eyes. It's no wonder Ajikitcho Bunbuan has earned a prestigious Michelin one-star recognition. Their lunch set menus are relatively affordable, making it a highly recommended place to experience the essence of kaiseki cuisine during lunchtime.
To get there, take the Osaka Metro Midosuji Line from Namba Station and get off at Hommachi Station, which takes around 4 minutes. From there, it's just a 1-minute walk to the restaurant.
Nini: "I personally enjoy kaiseki cuisine! Although the portions may not be large, you can savor various dishes, making it perfect for those with smaller appetites or easily bored palates. And the lunchtime prices at Ajikitcho Bunbuan are really reasonable. It's a great place to enjoy Michelin-starred kaiseki cuisine!"
Ajikitcho Bunbuan味吉兆 ぶんぶ庵
- Address B1F, 3-6-4 Honmachi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka 541-0053
- Lunch: 11:30 AM - Last Order at 2:00 PM
- Dinner: 5:30 PM - Last Order at 8:00 PM
* Lunch is not served on Thursdays (As of the announcement on March 11, 2023, for the latest information, please check the official website.)
・Closed: Mondays, Year-end and New Year holidays, and occasional unscheduled closures
・Website: <a href="https://bunbu-an.jp/">https://bunbu-an.jp/</a>
3:00 PM - Stroll at Osaka Castle Park & Enjoy a Cozy Afternoon Tea and Dessert at Tawanico
After treating yourself to such a delightful lunch experience, you can take the Osaka Metro Chuo Line from Hommachi Station to Tanimachi 4-chome Station. From there, take a 10-minute stroll to Osaka Castle Park and enjoy a relaxing stroll to aid digestion. Osaka Castle boasts a complete castle tower and fortified stone walls, and it is famous for cherry blossoms and autumn foliage viewing during spring and fall. In summer, the park is lush with greenery, and in winter, the snow-covered landscape adds a touch of solemnity. It is undoubtedly one of the must-visit attractions in Osaka.
If you have the Osaka Amazing Pass, you can also enjoy free admission or rides to Osaka Castle's main tower, Nishinomaru Garden, and the Osaka Castle Nishinomaru Boat.
About a 10-minute walk from Osaka Castle Park's Otemon Gate, you'll find the charming and artsy dessert shop, Tawanico, with its lovely exterior. The desserts here are crafted with care, perfectly matching the seasons. In winter, they serve strawberry cakes and matcha tarts; in late spring, you'll find citrus tarts; and during summer, you can enjoy lemon parfait and blueberry tarts, among others.
"Each time you visit, they have different limited-time offerings. It's a delightful surprise every time!" When Nini visited in autumn, she had the pleasure of trying their seasonal limited-edition chestnut and grape pancake. The gentle flavor of chestnut blended with the soft pancake base, creates an unforgettable taste sensation. The cafe's coffee is also decorated with adorable latte art, further brightening the mood.
Nini advises, "Due to the limited seating and the fact that each dessert is available in limited quantities, I recommend making a reservation by phone in advance. If you have your heart set on a particular item, it's a good idea to reserve it beforehand and ask the shop to set it aside for you. If you discover other desserts you'd like to try upon arrival, you can also add them to your order on the spot."
- Address Sun Mansion 1F, 2-2-9, Otedori Otedori, Chuo-ku, Osaka, 540-0021
・Hours: 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
・Official Instagram: <a href="https://www.instagram.com/tawanico/">https://www.instagram.com/tawanico/</a>
5:30 PM - Delight in the Exclusive Crab Meat Buns at the Kani Doraku Dotonbori Main Store
After enjoying Tawanico, you can take the train back to Dotonbori to shop and explore. Right next to the famous Glico Running Man sign, you'll find the well-known tourist-favorite restaurant, Kani Doraku Dotonbori Main Store.
In January 2022, they introduced a brand new item, the Crab Meat Bun, priced at just 500 yen, making it a perfect snack for your stroll.
Nini says, "The Crab Meat Bun is an exclusive product available only at the Dotonbori Main Store. You can't find it anywhere else! It tastes even better when you have it with some mustard mayonnaise. It's a great option for those who want to enjoy crab without spending too much. As a local, I find it quite delightful!"
Kani Doraku Dotonbori Hontenかに道楽 道頓堀本店
- Address 1-6-18 Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka 542-0071
・Hours: 11:00 AM - 10:00 PM (Last entry at 9:00 PM)
6:00 PM - Step Into Another World at kawara CAFE&DINING Shinsaibashi Store Themed Cafe
Before heading for dinner, you can take a relaxing stroll in Shinsaibashi to digest your food. However, today is all about embracing the culinary journey, so Nini recommends visiting kawara CAFE&DINING Shinsaibashi Store on the 9th floor of the Shinsaibashi OPA Department Store.
This cafe usually offers a variety of Western-style dishes and light meals. However, from time to time, they collaborate with famous properties to create themed events featuring Disney characters, popular Japanese mascots, animated movies, pop music artists, and more. In the past, they have showcased Beauty and the Beast, Star Wars, and Suzume, to name a few.
Nini: "I've been to their cafe during the collaboration events with Beauty and the Beast and Alice in Wonderland! The cafe's interior design is carefully arranged to match the world of the respective works, and I truly appreciate this attention to detail. Also, they welcome walk-in customers, so it's okay if you haven't made a reservation. The cafe has spacious seating with sofas, making it convenient for those with baby strollers or luggage. If you're looking for a place to rest in Shinsaibashi or are a fan of the themed collaboration, I highly recommend stopping by!"
kawara CAFE&DINING Shinsaibashi Storekawara CAFE＆DINING 心斎橋店
- Address Shinsaibashi OPA 9F, 1-4-3 Nishi-Shinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka 542-0086
・Hours: 11:00 AM - 9:00 PM
7:30 PM - Traditional Kansai-style Sukiyaki at Century-Old, Michelin One-Star Kitamura
The highlight of the day is dinner is the Michelin one-star rated, century-old sukiyaki restaurant Kitamura which specializes in Kansai-style sukiyaki made with premium wagyu beef. The restaurant's ambiance is charming, and as you enter the traditional Japanese house, you'll be greeted by servers wearing kimono who will guide you to your private dining room. Throughout the meal, they will assist in seasoning and cooking, making you feel right at home. Kitamura is highly popular, so making reservations in advance is recommended.
Nini says, "After living in Osaka for a while, my taste has also leaned towards the Osaka style, which means I enjoy the sweet and savory sukiyaki flavors. And of course, when you come to Japan as a tourist, you must try wagyu beef. (laughs) The Kansai-style sukiyaki is prepared by first frying the beef in butter and then adding sugar and soy sauce for seasoning, which gives it a unique taste compared to the typical sukiyaki cooked directly in sauce and water. If you're in Osaka, you really should try it for yourself!"
Sukiyaki Restaurant Kitamura精肉すき焼處 北むら
- Address 16-27, Higashi-Shinsaibashi 1-chome, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka 542-0083
・Hours: 4:30 PM - 9:50 PM (Last Order at 9:30 PM)
・Closed: Sundays, National Holidays, Year-end/New Year Holidays (December 29th to January 4th), Summer Holidays (Mid-August)
10:00 PM - Cheers to Fresh Seafood at Isomaru Suisan - Experience Local Izakaya Culture in Japan
Isomaru Suisan is a local chain of seafood izakaya in Japan, where each table comes with a grill for DIY grilling. They take pride in serving fresh, quality ingredients, such as grilled crab miso, assorted sashimi platters, clams, and more. The menu also offers skewers, fried dishes, and rice bowls, perfectly complemented by a refreshing glass of cold beer, making it a delightful dining experience.
Nini notes, "Even though the restaurant is located in a big city, the seafood is still incredibly fresh and delicious. In Japan, even the affordable izakayas serve excellent sashimi. Abroad, you might have to spend a lot at a seafood restaurant near the harbor."
The cozy, down-to-earth atmosphere of Isomaru Suisan also gives you a sense of typical everyday Japanese life. With its late-night hours, dining after 10 PM is not a problem, making it an excellent spot for tourists to experience the culture of Japanese izakayas.
Isomaru Suisan Umeda Ohatsu Tenjin Mae Store磯丸水産 梅田お初天神前店
- Address 2-8-12 Sonezaki, Kita-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka 530-0057
・Hours: 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM (Last Order: food 10:00 PM, drinks 10:30 PM)
Use your taste buds to explore Osaka
In addition to the delicious food introduced by Nini, Osaka has a plethora of culinary delights to offer. If you want to understand Osaka's classic cuisine better, joining a local-led food tour for a day can be a fun and enriching experience. After all, traveling abroad is all about immersing yourself in the local culture!
Indulge in a Gastronomic Extravaganza! Osaka Boldly Presents Its Culinary Delights
Osaka truly lives up to its title as the "City of Indulgence," where you can savor a ton of mouthwatering dishes in just one day. During this gastronomic journey, you can also explore your own interests and try out more treats like takoyaki, okonomiyaki (also known as "Japanese pizza"), and various deep-fried delights. You can eat, take a stroll, do some shopping, and then eat some more—this is the simple yet amazing way to enjoy your trip to Osaka!
Please note that the information in this article was based on information from June 2023, and the provided photos were taken in the past. For the most up-to-date details, kindly refer to the official websites of the respective establishments.
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*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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