What to eat in Osaka, Nara and Kyoto
Admit it, Japanese food has to play a big part if you decided to visit the country. We won’t lie, it’s true for us! Japanese food is really one of favorite kind of food, and we eat it very often in Hong Kong. But there is something different when you eat it in Japan, the feeling, the atmosphere, something. That’s why we didn’t stop eating our WHOLE trip! And we regret nothing 😀 (even though we are still struggling to lose the weight we gained there!). Here we decided to sum up the best things to eat in Osaka, Nara and Kyoto, and we ended up making a list of almost everything we ate… We hope you enjoy it!
- 1 6 Things to eat in Osaka
- 2 2 Things to eat in Nara
- 3 6 Things to eat in Kyoto
- 4 End of the list
6 Things to eat in Osaka
Before getting to the list, here is a map of where we ate all the things we put here. Honestly, except some specific restaurants, you can try famous things anywhere in Osaka, but we really loved the ones we tried, so maybe it can help you make your plans!
Endo Sushi was the first meal we ate in Osaka (breakfast of the first day!). It was so good it stayed in our mind during the whole trip. The restaurant is located near the fish market of Osaka. So you guessed it, its main customers are the workers of the fish market. As it must be the case in all countries, the day in a fish market starts very early. And it’s busy in a chaotic manner! Workers come and go and things get crazy!
To accommodate this specific busy life of the fish market workers, Endo Sushi had a brilliant idea: use warm rice to speed up the sushi making process. Normally, sushi rice are cooled down (you all know it!). But at Endo Sushi, to keep up with the tempo of the market, the rice is slightly warm. And we found it amazing! It’s a little detail, but it changes everything. We highly recommend you to try this sushi even if you don’t visit the market!
Kushikatsu is a Japanese deep fried skewer, which was invented in Osaka. The skewer is made on a bamboo stick called Kushi, from which the name Kushikatsu comes from. The ingredients are very diverse: it can go from vegetables to pork to some chicken organs that you never knew they existed. But they all have one thing in common, they are delicious! It’s amazing how a deep fried dish does not feel so oily. And the fried skin fits on the ingredients as if they were the real skin! The whole things is juicy and crunchy, and heavenly delicious.
Kushikatsu is served with raw cabbages and usually tonkatsu sauce (kind of a Japanese Worcestershire sauce). This keeps the slightly oily taste away and makes you eat indefinitely! Careful, the dipping sauce is shared among customers, which is why it’s forbidden to dip twice a skewer. And one of the roles of the cabbage is this: you can scoop out the dipping sauce to add it to a skewer you already dipped! Interesting, don’t you think? These kind of details is what makes a meal a whole new experience!
Takoyaki is a very famous Japanese street food. It’s basically a flour paste ball with a piece of octopus inside cooked in a pan. It might not sound so delicious, but it is! It was invented in Osaka (no wonder it’s called the Kitchen of japan!) in 1935, and since it quickly became a major street food all over the country. You can find takoyaki vendors literally anywhere. We tried it near our hotel, but really, you will find it ANYWHERE. We saw a lot of them in Dotonbori for example!
Our first thought of Takoyaki was… it’s so hot! Yeah we didn’t think of that it just came out of the pan and just took one whole in the mouth. And we suffered for a few minutes. But the worst thing is it’s so delicious you can’t stop eating it! After the first one we said “let’s wait a little bit before eating”, and started eating again 30 seconds later… Not proud of the results.
Well, do we need to present this? Ok… Ramen is a very well-known Japanese noodles. It’s a wheat noodle in a meat based broth, with different kind of toppings. You will find as many different styles of ramen as there are regions in Japan! The most well-known would be the pork bone based broth ramen with pork slices (chashu) and seaweeds as toppings.
There are a lot of famous ramen restaurants in Osaka. We tried Ramen Ichiran in Dotonbori Area. It’s a quite a peculiar experience: everyone seats along a long table, and all the seats are separated by wooden partitions. These partitions can be removed for those in groups, so don’t worry about that! The ramen here is highly customizable! They have options for anything to please everyone. So don’t miss this restaurant!
Skewers on Dotonbori Canal
Dotonbori is an amazing district in Osaka that you shouldn’t miss. One thing we really loved was taking a drink in one of those skewer bars you can find along the canal. It’s a lovely experience, with delicious food and sake! We decided to take a hot sake as it felt a little chilly being outside. It was really awesome, we really recommend to try it!
It’s very common in Japan to take a drink with some skewers as side dish. Unlike Kushikatsu we presented earlier, these skewers are not fried but grilled. And equally delicious! We really recommend you to take the time to eat skewers and drink sake on the canal!
Okonomiyaki is a famous Osakan dish, made of cabbages, meat, seafood and cooked on a pan in front of you. You can think of it as a kind of a pancake. Honestly we were not big fans of Okonomiyaki, but we think it’s something you have to try at least once when you are in Osaka. That’s because Okonomiyaki is not just about the taste, but also the experience of cooking it (or watching someone cook it ;)) .
Don’t get us wrong, the taste was not bad at all, but it might have been too sweet for us (they put a LOT of sauce on it). But you won’t know if you don’t try it!
There is something you shouldn’t miss in Japan (and you already know it very well): Japanese barbecue.
We personally love Yakiniku, and we eat it often in our hometown. Japanese beef is very well-known for its quality, so we had to try it and confirm that! And we confirm it :).
We found an amazing all you can eat Yakiniku restaurant. It had a huge list of high quality meat (you can see the restaurant in the map above). The quality of the meat really surprised us! We felt bad for worrying a bit as it was an all you can eat restaurant. Despite its huge list of meat, we ended up ordering an enormous alount of two of them: the wagyu beef and the marinated ribs. They are really wonderful so you should try them!
2 Things to eat in Nara
Like for Osaka, here is a map of things we ate in Nara. As people usually go to Nara for a day trip, the list is short. But with food, it’s not about quantity but about quality!
Grilled Eel Rice – Edogawa Grilled Eel
Grilled Eel rice, called Unagi Don is a typical Japanese dish. Japanese people love it because it’s believed to provide stamina! We don’t know about stamina, but one thing is sure, it’s really delicious. But it’s kind of difficult to find restaurant that cooks it properly. Unagi (Japanese eel) can be delicate to cook, and some restaurants just don’t know how to cook it!
Edogawa Grilled Eel is certainly one of those that know how to cook it perfectly. Their grilled eel melts in your mouth and syncs perfectly with the rice and the Kabayaki sauce. For one of the Eel rice we could add tea to the rice, and it was an unexpected perfect match! We really recommend you to try this in Nara!
Mochi – Nakatanidou
Mochi is a subject of controversy, some love it and some hate it for its texture. But it’s something you have to try in Nara:
Interested? This is Nakatanidou, a traditional Mochi maker, 2 times champion of the National High Speed Mochi Pounding Competition. They do their Mochi pouding performance every half an hour so don’t miss it! And actually, it’s not really a performance, they are really making the mochi. And at the end of the performance you can try the freshly made mochi.
This mochi was the best we had so far. It’s soft, fluffy, and the taste is so fresh! You should definitly try this.
6 Things to eat in Kyoto
Again, here is a map of where we ate the foods during our 2 days in Kyoto before the list!
Yamafuku is THE best restaurant we went during this trip. Honestly, if you asked us to pick only one restaurant, it would be Yamafuku. Yamafuku is a Japanese Shabu Shabu restaurant. Shabu Shabu is the Japanese hot pot: you have a boiling broth in front of you and you cook thin sliced meat in the boiling broth. Seems simple? Yamafuku as elevated this simple dish in a state of art.
The broth is made of anchovy and soy milk, the combination seemed weird but it works. And the meat… the meat is amazing. We tried pork and beef and both were incredibly delicious! It literally melted in our mouth. We kept on ordering and couldn’t stop! And at the end we HAD to try the ramen in the finalized broth. Because of all the meat you cook in the broth, it keeps getting tastier and tastier, and cooking noodles in the final broth is something you can’t miss!
We ate Sushi only twice during this travel, to try to diversify our experience. This is the second time we had sushi. This restaurant is inside the Nishiki Market, so it’s very convenient to eat here during your visits. The sushi here is amazing. The chef will make the sushi directly in front of you (like an omakase) and you can admire the whole process.
The menu is well thought and the chef is very professional. His swift techniques will be a very good experience to add to the amazing taste! We recommend to try this restaurant!
Yakiniku – Yakiniku no Bull
Did you think we only had one Yakiniku? Wrong! We couldn’t finish our travel without another barbecue! You will find tons of them in any part of Kyoto, but we wanted to find one less touristic than most. Yakiniku no Bull was perfect (they didn’t even have an english menu!). The meat was juicy, diverse and perfectly matched the Japanese draft beer! Moreover, this yakiniku was on a charcoal grill, which added charm to the cooking. We highly recommend it!
Street Food: Take away Sashimi
One thing to do in Nishiki Market is to take away some sashimi. We completely forgot taking photos, but there is a shop not far from the entrance (you will see a huge queue) that sells takeaway seafood. We took a fresh urchin and some sashimi. A delicious and fresh seafood that will make your market stroll even more enjoyable!
Street Food: Wagyu Skewer
This is something you will find near the Fushimi Inari Temple. A street food skewer made of Japanese Wagyu! Best 500 yen ever spent! You might want to ask to have less sauce, because the meat itself is already great! You will see tons of other delicious street foods near the temple, so the choice is yours.
End of the list
How did you like our list? Are you hungry yet? Writing this made us hungry anyway. We will surely go back there one day, just to eat them again! Of course, there are tons and tons of other foods in Japan and we will update this list whenever we go back to Osaka, Nara or Kyoto and try new things. If you know something that we must try, please leave us a comment
Did you like our article? Subscribe to our newsletter to receive more! Don’t worry we won’t spam!