After Tokyo, Osaka is Japan’s most visited city. Rich in history, culture, and natural destinations, this city certainly offers something for everyone. Moreover, as the country’s third-largest city, Osaka offers all the comforts of modern life, but it’s less expensive and more laidback than Tokyo.
If Osaka is considered to be the soul of Japan, then Dotonbori is the soul’s heart. This area surrounding the Dōtonbori Canal is lit with such bright lights, that you might as well think this is a part of town where sun never sets. Make sure your Osaka tour package includes a visit to this magical place at night to make your Osaka trip complete.
Foodies also flock to Dotonbori, thanks to its Kuidaore culture. Kuidaore is a Japanese word that loosely translates to “eat till you drop.” And with Dotonbori being lined with restaurants, food stalls, and izakayas (Japanese pubs), it’s pretty easy to do so. That said, if you come to Dotonbori during peak hours, expect Disney-level queues outside the locals’ favourite dining destinations.
Make sure you don’t miss out on must-try street foods in Dotonbori. Here’s a list to get you started on your food crawl.
The first in every Dotonbori food crawl list is the world-famous Takoyaki. Since these octopus balls originated from Osaka, it’s only fitting that you try them here.
The most iconic takeout place with an epic queue is hard to miss with its huge octopus sign. Kukuru serves their original takoyaki called bikkuri takoyaki (surprising takoyaki) with such a generous serving of octopi, that tentacles poke out of takoyaki, making them look like they’ve got legs!
The savoury Japanese pancake that’s probably the mother of all pancakes is the Okonomiyaki. Unlike with the fluffy and light pancakes of the west, you can make a meal out of just one serving of okonomiyaki. Indeed, the assortment of vegetables and meat in its batter makes this pancake a filling and hearty dish.
In Dotonbori, one of the most well-known okonomiyaki places is Fukutaro, a small restaurant that serves a variety of okonomiyaki dishes. Try ordering the Osaka-style okonomiyaki that comes with a special sauce and is topped with artfully dispensed Japanese mayo. The chefs here cook the dish right in front of you so there won’t be any doubt about its freshness.
If you like fried mystery-food-on-sticks, then better get in line at Daruma Kushikatsu. The place is not hard to find; just look for the angry Daruma chef mascot outside its Dotonbori branch.
Kushikatsu or “skewers” in English are an assortment of meats and vegetables, skewered, coated in breadcrumbs, and deep-fried to golden perfection. Some examples of these bite-sized skewers are quail eggs, lotus roots, bamboo shoots, octopus, beef tongue, gizzards, and rice balls. Interestingly, the restaurants serving kushikatsu come with a communal dipping sauce and large slices of cabbage on the side. You use the cabbage to apply more sauce as double dipping is strictly frowned upon and prohibited, hence the angry Daruma mascot.
Melon Bread with Ice Cream
Imagine piping hot, freshly baked bread enveloping freezing cold ice cream. That’s exactly what the melon bread with ice cream combo is all about. There’s no melon flavour in it, though; the name just refers to the cantaloupe-like look of the bread.
When you’re in need of dessert, search for the kawaii, green Melonpan Ice food truck. Here, you can order sweet matcha ice cream with your melon bread for a quick, saccharine immersion into Japanese food culture!
Grilled King Crab Legs
One of the most recognizable signage in Dotonbori is the enormous red crab moving on the Kani Doraku restaurant building. Under that mechanical crab, you’ll find a stall selling grilled king crab legs. Pray that they aren’t sold out yet because if you come too late, you will have to come back the next morning to grab a chance to taste one of Osaka’s famed king crabs.
A trip to Osaka is such a dream holiday for food lovers. With so much diverse and unique dishes to try out, you’ll be in danger of spending your entire budget on food! Then again, when in Osaka, you have to do just as the locals do—and that’s to kuidaore, of course!