Osaka is the Japan’s second largest metropolitan area after Tokyo and is well-known for its modern architecture, bustling nightlife and delicious street food. I took my first-ever solo trip end April and decided to explore the Kansai region with Osaka as a base. I’m not much of a shopper, but I love my food so here are some of my picks for the must-try dishes here!
First up, local specialty, Kasu Udon or beef offal noodles. Topped with deep fried small beef intestines, this actually tastes like pork lard but with a slightly chewy texture. Done well, it should have no game-y aftertaste and it infuses the light udon broth with such a heavenly, hearty flavour. On a cold, rainy night, this was my first meal there and it warmed me up from the inside.
Kasu Udon Yamamoto
Address: 1-29-8 Chikkoshinmachi, Nishi-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture
Phone: +81 6-6536-1551
Obviously, when in Japan, sushi is a must. I spent a lot of my time walking and exploring Kyoto, Nara, Himeji and Kobe during the day so I ended up getting back to Osaka pretty late for any Omakase or Kaiseki meals. But for a quick sushi fix, Jinen Sushi was a pretty popular pick. Located in one of the alleyways in Shinsaibashi (the main shopping belt), the place was packed with locals. In fact, I was the only foreigner there when I visited.
Address: 1 542 0083, 1 Chome-8-26 Higashishinsaibashi, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0083, Japan
The fish was really fresh and everything was prepared in front of me in the counter. The staff were really friendly and made sure i was comfortable and even made recommendations for what was in season.
You could order as a pair or per piece depending on the sushi and prices were pretty reasonable too.
Of course, I couldn’t resist my favourite uni. It was sweet, creamy and melted beautifully in the mouth.
Another must-try when in Osaka is the world-famous Ichiran Ramen. To be honest, I was a little skeptical that a 24-hour ramen joint that took orders from a vending machine and dispensed the noodles through little segregated cubicles could be all that impressive. But I couldn’t resist and queued the 20-25 minutes for this bowl of slurpy awesome.
The verdict? It was excellent. The rich, flavourful pork bone broth really did it for me. But I think the secret of its success lies in its brilliant customisation process where you can decide everything from the doneness of the noodle, saltiness and oiliness of the soup and even the toppings you want to add. I’m glad to say it’s well worth the hype.
Quick Tip: If the queue at the joint by the river is really long, there is actually a second outlet they’ve just opened with a much shorter waiting time just a 2-minute walk from the riverside. Google Maps it or ask the staff if you can go to the other outlet instead. My second time there (yes i went back again haha) I only queued 10 minutes!
Another place for delicious affordable sushi is..
All good food is usually dished up with a long wait but if you go early, you’ll probably only have to wait 20-30 minutes for your turn. Why wait? Because the fish here comes fresh from Osaka fish market which is a stone’s throw from its location.
They have a special Omakase menu where you can pick your favourite combination of sushi. You are served 5 pieces depending on your choice and you can pick as many plates as you want.
I went for the second plate with kani (boiled crab), akagai (ark shell), hotate bashira (scallop), toro (fatty tuna) and tachiuro (halibut).
Just look at how fresh the meat was! I couldn’t resist adding on some uni sushi as well.
The best part is, all this costs just under SGD$12!! I also added some sweet and fragrant asari miso soup to wash everything down nicely and complete the meal.
Endo is casual, no-frills and a great place to start your day for breakfast or brunch before you head out sight-seeing. If you’re heading down to Osaka anytime soon, do check these places out. You won’t regret it. Will share my highlights for Kyoto, Kobe, Nara and Himeji in the next few posts!