Osaka is an incredibly popular destination for both local Japanese and foreign tourists alike. The Namba/Shinsaibashi area in particular is definitely worth a visit if you want to get a fill of all the local treats. Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki are an absolute must when experiencing Osaka food.
Okonomiyaki is one of the most famous foods to eat in Osaka and in the heart of Dotonbori you will find many restaurants selling this delicious savoury pancake. But it’s not quite a pancake is it? Okonomiyaki is an umami dish made from cabbage, eggs, and flour. It’s then topped off with either: seafood, bacon, beef, noodles, or all of them! It would not be complete without mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce (otafuku), seaweed flakes (aonori) and bonito flakes (katsubushi). Okonomiyaki sounds like quite a strange dish, but when it is served up on a hotplate in front of you, you will understand what the fuss is all about.
Okonomiyaki styles vary in each prefecture. In the Kansai region, the base ingredients are mixed together prior to frying. Many restaurants will serve okonomiyaki with chopsticks and a little spatula onto a hotplate built into your table. One of the more popular okonomiyaki restaurants in Osaka is Mizuno Okonomiyaki in Dotonbori, where there is often a line but it is well worth the wait. For those not comfortable using Japanese they do have an English menu for you. This restaurant is a particularly mouth-watering experience because the chef will cook the okonomiyaki, step by step, on the table in front of you. Okonomiyaki usually costs between 650 yen to 2000 yen, depending on how extravagant your choice is.
On the other hand, takoyaki is often served as street food in Osaka. There are numerous little shops frying up this convenient little meal in the open for the public to see. Takoyaki is a fried (yaki) doughy ball with a piece of octopus (tako) in the centre. These are a great snack to share with a friend when you need a break from exploring and shopping. A word of caution when eating takoyaki, it is so fresh that it is often scalding hot when you get it! Be sure to be careful with that first bite! It is very popular to eat takoyaki whilst standing outside the front of the shop, but if sitting down is more your style, some places often offer small tables and chairs nearby.
Takoyaki shops are easy to spot, look for big red and yellow signs with pictures of octopus, or when visiting Dotonbori, just look for a giant octopus protruding from a wall. Takoyaki is generally sold in little cardboard boats in sets of 6, 8, 10 or 12. Prices can range from 300 yen to 800 yen, depending on the size and place of your order.