Are you into castles, beer, and food? If you are, Osaka is the place to be. Osaka castle is an iconic landmark in the area and offers excellent views of the downtown skyline. Not only can you revel in stunning architecture, but you can get free beer (yes, free beer) and eat some tasty morsels. The best street food in Japan can be found in Osaka!
Free Beer Tours in Osaka
Free Tours? Free Beer?! Say no more: Sign me up.
This day trip from Kyoto is super easy on the Shinkansen (bullet train) it is literally 16 minutes from city to city. That being said, with transfers it will likely take you an hour. We were staying 1 stop away from Kyoto Station so we had to get to the station, transfer to the bullet train, find your platform, wait….you get the picture.
The beer tour is a few stops from the main Osaka station. It’s kind of in the burbs, but worth the trip.
They will give you a device where you can listen to the explanation in English. It’s one per group and you have to download an app if you are person number two, three, four, etc.
The tour itself was interesting, but the best part was the free beer “sample” at the end. These samples aren’t what you think. They are full glasses of beer. You get three glasses per person and unlimited juice. You also get snacks!
Then they give you a free mini beer in a can at the end!
Win win win!
The best part of this tour is that there are no Foreigners on the tour. Unless the group I saw was Chinese. There are only local Japanese tourists.
The gift store is also reasonably priced and they accept credit cards.
P.S if you are extra nice to the staff, you may get a parting gift 🙂
Osaka Castle is a marvelous structure in the centre of the city. After our 10:30 am beers, we headed to the Castle.
Not a whole lot to say about this place except that it is truly spectacular.
When we were there I think a dance competition was going on. There were lots of kids in costumes and we stopped to watch a few dances. So cute.
You can pay to look inside the castle, but that didn’t interest me all that much. At this point, I grew tired of super tourist things, so I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything too exciting. Unless you count trying to stay out of other people’s photos exciting!
Here is a little backstory on the castle.
After a long stroll on the castle grounds, hunger set in. The place to eat street food is in Dotonbori. Everything from deep-fried octopus balls (not testicles, octopus in a dough ball) to sashimi to grilled everything on a stick can be had in this place.
I’m allergic to shellfish soooòo I didn’t eat much except gyozas and chicken (my fave), but Peter ate lots of food fare…Here is Peter to describe the food he ate #nomnom
Okay Osaka is soon for its street food and there are three types of food it is renowned for:
Deep fried octopus balls. While these are sold everywhere in Japan, Osaka, specifically Dontoburi is the birthplace of takoyaki. The first step is choosing a place. There are so many shops selling this deep fried goodness which can be a little overwhelming. Being the first time I was going to try this, I based my decision on which shop had the most locals lined up.
Pro tip: people love to line up in Japan.
Back to the food. I settled on a place called with a long line of Japanese people. After waiting for a few minutes, got my box of delicious octopus balls. There were soft, gooey and absolutely delicious. The chewiness of the octopus was perfectly balanced with the soft texture of the dough. The verdict: a must try in Osaka. This was a great snack to start off my foodcation in Osaka.
Again Osaka is the birthplace of Okonomiyaki, one of Japan’s favorite comfort food. Seriously just go to Osaka for the food, you won’t be disappointed.
Okay, if you are not familiar with Otonomiyaki, think of it as a pancake dish which has a variety of toppings added to it. There are two types: the Osaka version and the Hiroshima version (I will save this for another post). For now, let’s talk about the Osaka version. I had to rely on Google this time to pick a place. Okonomiyaki places weren’t as readily available as the Takoyaki places. We settled on a restaurant called on (look up name) in the side streets. We were welcomed by the chef and immediately seated.
Note: you get a max of an hour if you choose table seating as oppose to counter seating if you arrive around dinner time.
This restaurant specializes in Otonomiyaki and they had a variety of options available. I ultimately settled on the beef, green onions and Japanese potato option. The chef took my order and it took about to 10 minutes to receive my order. Okonomiyakis are served on a hot plate to keep the food warm. I mean who wants cold pancakes?
So what was the verdict on this dish? I liked the flavors and the pancake itself was light and fluffy. I will just say that there was too much going on in this dish. No flavor really stood out, since they are mixed into the pancakes (this is different from the Hiroshima style). After a few bites, nothing really stood it just felt like I was eating a really good stuffed pancake. It was good, but definitely one of the least impressive things I tried.
By now I was undoubtedly full, but I had to make room to try another Osaka delicacy.
What is kushikatsu?
Deep fried anything on a stick. Again you can find this anywhere in Japan, but Osaka is its birthplace (you should get it by now Osaka = Japan’s kitchen). Settling on a place was hard on this one as there were quite a few places offering. We ultimately got drawn to a place for no other reason than the guy spoke to us in English. Was it the best reason? Probably not, but I am glad we went in. It was on the side street and looked a little sketchy (another tip: sketchy places have the best food in Japan).
Now onto the food. They had over 12 types of deep fried skewers available (shrimp, quail egg, chicken, octopus, really whatever your heart desired). We got one of each. Is that gluttony? Sure, but it is Osaka and food is the name of the game. I am not sure how Japanese people stay so slim. This was one of the best deep fried things I have ever had. It wasn’t greasy. It had the perfect crunch and the meat was absolutely juicy. I left thinking would I be able to eat anything deep fried anywhere in CANADA?
4) Osaka Fish Market Sashimi
Osaka isn’t the birthplace of sashimi, but I heard it’s fish market had some of the best sashimi in Japan. By this time I was completely stuffed, but hey it’s sashimi, small and light so it would be fine. The fish market is about a 10 minute walk from Dontoburi.
Once we got there, the smell of fresh fish permeated the whole market. At that moment, I knew I was in for something amazing. I walked around the whole market, to see and decide where I was going to have my sashimi. I decided to settle at a random little place. They offered takeout and had a great selection. I got the tuna for takeout. I got my take out after about 10 minutes and saved it for when I got home.
Verdict: I am completely aghast that I didnt take a picture of this. It was absolutely amazing and was the right meal to end the day. So fresh! Every bite was magical. The fatty tuna just melts in your mouth. This was the best meal of my Osaka food expedition and one of the best of my trip. Seriously sashimi anywhere else will never be the same.
Haha. I wasn’t aware that Peter would be writing an essay, but there you have it: an Osaka street food run down!
After a long day of sightseeing and eating food it was time to head back to Kyoto. On our way back we ran into Lina! We decided to link up with her on our way to Kobe the next day.
Stay tuned for the next post: Kobe Beef in Kobe!