In Osaka, every bite is a revelation | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Photo by Helga Christina/Unsplash

From sushi that dances on your taste buds to a Matsusaka beef omakase, “Japan’s kitchen” promises unforgettable dining experiences



Japan’s food scene is a treasure trove for travelers seeking culinary adventures, with Osaka shining as a prime destination. Often referred to as “Japan’s kitchen” due to its reputation as a food lover’s paradise, the country’s third-largest city offers an array of flavors waiting to be explored.

It’s known for its vibrant culinary scene, street food stalls, and iconic spots like Dotonbori and Kuromon Market where you can experience unparalleled food adventures no matter what kind of eater you are.

On our last trip to Osaka, we made our way around the city to explore its gastronomic wonders and here are the places where every bite was a revelation, every dish was a masterpiece, and every moment was a cherished memory waiting to be relived. 

READ: This is how I ate my way around snowy Sapporo

Osaka Maimon Sushi

Sweet shrimp, salmon nigiri, and the “full of tuna” platter

Situated in the heart of Osaka, Kuromon Market is famous for its fresh seafood, local produce, and tempting street food stalls. Spanning over 600 meters, it’s been a culinary hotspot for locals and visitors for over a century. As you wander through the market’s maze-like pathways, you’re enveloped in a bustling atmosphere, with diverse vendors creating a sensory feast of sights, sounds, and aromas.

Nestled within the lively alleys of the market is Osaka Maimon Sushi. Lost in the bustling ambiance of the fish market, it shines as the epitome of sushi excellence, at least in my opinion. The fish, directly sourced from market vendors, offers an unmatched sweetness and freshness to create a delightful dining experience.

You simply cannot pass up the opportunity to try their tuna platter, offering the three best cuts of tuna: chu-toro, o-toro, and akami. 

As you indulge in the first piece, the velvety richness of the o-toro envelops your palate, leaving a lingering sweetness that dances on your taste buds. Then, the firm, meaty akami offers a burst of savory umami, perfectly complemented by subtle notes of the sea.

But it’s the chu-toro that steals the show—a thick, succulent cut of tuna belly that practically melts in your mouth with each bite. Its buttery texture, punctuated by layers of marbled fat, creates a divine depth of flavor. Each morsel is a symphony of tastes and textures, a harmonious blend of sweetness, richness, and umami that leaves you craving more.

Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M

If you’re looking to wallow in something beyond sushi, consider Matsusaka beef. Originating from the Matsusaka region of Japan, this beef is celebrated for its unmatched marbling and tender texture.

“Aburi” Matsusaka beef marbled cut sushi
“Aburi” Matsusaka beef marbled cut sushi

Unlike Kobe wagyu, Matsusaka wagyu is exclusively sourced from virgin females fed with corn and soybeans, massaged with shochu spirit to enhance blood circulation, and even offered bottled beer to stimulate appetite, resulting in a more flavorful taste. All for a level of fatty marbling so soft that it practically melts at the touch.

Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M in Osaka is a culinary gem that has captured the hearts of Filipino families and food enthusiasts alike. Despite its popularity, I was lucky enough to secure a table early during dinner time. Chen, a Filipino waitress, treated us like VIP customers, further enhancing our dining experience.

For first-time visitors, I highly recommend the special omakase platter, a set meal that includes various cuts of beef like round, top round, sirloin steak, and short plate. Our omakase journey began with beef sashimi, an unusual yet delightful dish with a rich, velvety texture that melted in our mouths. This was followed by aburi Matsusaka beef marbled cut sushi, where the torched beef over sushi rice created an irresistible combination of flavors.

The main attraction was the premium selection of Matsusaka beef, featuring cuts seasoned with salt and the chef’s choice of sauce. The star of the show was undeniably the sukiyaki sliced Matsusaka beef.

Each slice of beef offered a symphony of flavors that left us in awe. Additionally, the addition of the egg yolk dip added a whole new dimension of flavor, creating a mouthwatering combination that lingered on our palates long after the meal was over. 

Tempura Tarojiro

A restaurant personally recommended by the owner of Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M was Tempura Tarojiro, nestled near Dotonbori in Osaka. Owned and operated by a chef with previous experience at the celebrated Sakai Restaurant, this establishment offers a captivating display of culinary mastery as dishes are prepared at the center aisle, surrounded by bar-style seating.

japanese chef
Tempura Tarojiro’s chef

During the evening, the restaurant exudes a cozy yet lively atmosphere, with locals often seen enjoying highballs with friends while indulging in freshly fried classics. While smoking is permitted indoors, it’s worth noting that this is a customary aspect of Japanese culture that may not suit all preferences.

The menu at Tempura Tarojiro is extensive. Each dish impresses with its flavorful batter, perfect for pairing with a cold beer. Highlights include classic shrimp tempura, fish sausage, crab claws, huge prawns that come with their heads intact, and large, succulent oysters that are as fresh as they can be.

For the best experience, start with a couple of plates and then supplement them as desired. This ensures you can enjoy each dish freshly fried, as they are cooked and served immediately. Unfortunately, we were too immersed in savoring each bite to capture photos of every dish, a testament to the deliciousness of the dining experience.

Katsudon Chiyomatsu

Supreme 5cm katsudon

Katsudon Chiyomatsu, an Instagram-famous spot famed for its mega-sized katsudon plates, has carved its own niche in Osaka’s culinary scene. Founded by a former sekitori (sumo wrestler), this cozy 12-seater restaurant boasts a U-shaped counter where diners can watch the chef in action while awaiting their orders. Due to its popularity, the restaurant fills up quickly, often requiring a wait of up to an hour and a half, even if you arrive right at opening time. 

The star of the show is the special 5cm pork cutlet katsudon, known for its hefty portion and exceptional flavor. We opted for the Supreme, featuring a 400g pork cutlet made from hard-to-find parts, cooked at low temperature for 24 hours before being deep-fried. Paired with egg and rice, the cutlet is remarkably thick yet tender and moist on the inside.

While the dish is enjoyable on its own, diners can also experiment with the various spices available on the table. Personally, I found the original taste of the meat to be quite enjoyable, without feeling overly oily or heavy. However, due to the generous portion size, it’s best to share with a friend.

Osaka-style katsudon

We also sampled the equally satisfying Osaka-style katsudon that features a thinner cut of pork. This variation includes cabbage and is accompanied by a sweet teriyaki-like sauce, adding a complex flavor profile reminiscent of the popular Bull-dog sauce.

If you don’t want to wait in line, just a block away, you can now enjoy the taste of Nihonbashi’s popular katsudon in a convenient sandwich form. Limited to 100 meals a day and selling out quickly, these sandwiches feature carefully selected pork cutlets cooked at a low temperature and sandwiched between fluffy toast. Each order comes with disposable gloves and towels for added convenience.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.