When it comes to Osaka restaurants, you won’t find any kind of shortage of options. In fact, for most Americans, Canadians, and Brits, going to just about any sushi restaurant in Japan, even the cheap ones, will be far better than the sushi you’re used to at home. And here in Osaka, you’ll experience many more dishes than you’re likely to find back home.
1. Don’t be Afraid to Take Chances
Deliciousness is all around Osaka waiting for discovery, so trying a place on a whim is one of the best routes to total food nirvana. Mediocre lunches and dinners are rare, but you can easily avoid them by taking a closer glance before you walk in the door. And, don’t be afraid to try new foods. I thought chicken hearts sounded downright foul to eat until I had them skewered at an izakaya. Push your boundaries and squish your squeamishness as much as possible, but don’t be afraid to order a familiar dish.
2. Use the “Local Lens” to Distinguish the Better Restaurants
Just like at home, if a restaurant is totally empty during mealtime hours, it’s probably lousy. Use the same principle, and apply the “local lens”. Are there locals in the restaurant eating? That’s a good sign. If it’s all tourists, the food isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s more likely. Is this place on the main drag?
In Dotonbori, you’ll be fine grabbing takoyaki just about anywhere, but the ramen on the crowded streets is over-salted and lacks depth. Walking a few streets over will give you much better results.
3. Get Thee to a Grill!
Three of the must try Osaka foods will both be served directly from the grill: teppanyaki, yakisoba, and okonomiyaki. Ideally, sit at the bar where the cooks will prepare the dishes right in front of you. Tables with a heated grill are also a good way to share the dishes over conversation.
Teppanyaki is a stir fried mix of meat and veggies. It’s perfect for those of us who are carb conscious or looking for a gluten-free option in a country where menu substitutions are sacrilege.
Yakisoba is your classic stir fry of egg noodles with veggies like cabbage and enoki mushrooms. Okonomiyaki is a pancake of sorts made with an egg and flour mixture binding bits of meat, veggies, and noodles together into a crispy bit of glory.
Try Okonomiyaki Teppanyaki Bonkuraya Dotombori (1-5-9 Dotombori, Chuo-ku | 2F, Osaka 542-0071, Osaka Prefecture).
4. Have an Afterwards Plan
Finish off a great meal with something to look forward to after it! Book tickets to see incredible local expat comedians at ROR Comedy.
You can view the calendar of Friday and Saturday night shows here and pick out a time that works for you. Not only will you fill out the evening, but you’ll get a relatable and hilarious picture of what it’s like to live in Japan as a foreigner.
With these tips in your arsenal, you’re much more likely to find great Osaka restaurants right by your hotel or airbnb.