If you have a chance to visit Osaka, you may want to try some of the local foods and snacks. Kushikatsu is a Japanese food that is believed to have originated in Osaka, in particular, the Shinsekai area. This food is definitely a must-try when selecting appetisers or snacks at any restaurant or bar in the city.
Kushikatsu (katsu meaning “fried”), is more a style of meal then actually having any defined ingredients. Kushikatsu is made from various pieces of skewered bite-sized cuts of food, mostly meat, fish and vegetables, which are then battered and fried. Popular vegetables which are used are renkon (lotus root), eggplant, onion, potato, pumpkin, and various types of mushrooms while when it comes to meat and fish beef, chicken, bacon, cocktail sausages, shrimp and squid are common choices. You will also find other tasty little additions to be skewered and fried such as: balls of cheese, takoyaki, taiyaki, and a unique Japanese jelly called konnyaku.
These bite-sized foods are skewered, dipped in a sticky buttercream then rolled in a tasty crumbed batter. After this, the skewers are placed in a deep fryer for cooking.
At most restaurants, especially bars and Izakayas, you can order pre-selected and cooked arrangements of kushikatsu. Often kushikatsu will be served with sauces for dipping and some roughly cut chunks of cabbage. Like most things in Japan, this is designed for sharing, so remember not to double dip your kushikatsu or cabbage in the sauce. The cabbage is served with the intention of aiding digestion, it can also be used as a spoon for the sauce. It is acceptable to eat both the kushikatsu and the cabbage with your hands.
For a more hands on experience, and a lot of fun memories, I highly recommend going to a restaurant that specialises in kushikatsu. This allows you to select and cook any variation of the dish that you desire. I personally tried out Kushiyamonogatari (literally translated as “storey of the Kushi shop”) located on the 10th floor of the giant MIO building in Abeno, Osaka.
Kushiyamonogatari offered a special tabehodai (all-you-can-eat) deal. Tabehodai and nomihodai (all-you-can-drink) are very common offers in Osaka, and can be found in many different restaurants. This particular restaurant offered tabehodai for 90mins for just under 2000 yen, and nomihodai non-alcoholic drinks for 200 yen per person. This is a wonderfully unique experience, because you will likely never find a deep fryer built into the customer’s tables anywhere in the western part of the world. Here you will experience cooking your own kushikatsu, and filling up on all the other delicious salads and desserts there too. I highly recommend going with a group of friends or family, but be careful with young children due to the hot food and oil.
You can order kushikatsu at almost any restaurant in Osaka, after all, it is an Osaka invention! But Kushiyamonogatari deserves a special mention when discussing this original Japanese food because of the unique experience available to both foreigners and locals alike. Not often do you have the hands on experience of tasting such a wide range of Osaka kushikatsu and also the joy of easily cooking it with your friends. The experience alone is worth it, but the giant chocolate fondue fountain will really top off your night out.