Where to Eat in Osaka

Japan’s third-largest city is a business hub, so leisure-ites come here for one reason only: food.

Courtesy Gohanya Isshin
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There’s a saying in Japan: “Tokyo people ruin themselves by overspending on fine footwear, Kyoto people on fine clothing, and Osaka people on fine food.” Osakans live and die by kuidaore, or eating oneself bankrupt.

So obsessed is the city that one museum is entirely dedicated to… ramen (and, yes, the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum is totally worth it). Suntory was founded here, Cup Noddle was invented here, and kaiten sushi (conveyor belt sushi) originated here.

Tokyo may be the food capital of Japan by sheer numbers, but Osakans vie for the title with their enthusiasm. And in the neon-lit Dtonbori district alone, hundreds of vendors sell $1 takoyaki (octopus fritters) and $5 okonomiyaki (a savory pancake) in between packed bars and restaurants.

For the sophisticated traveler, these Osaka restaurants represent a different experience than braving the stalls and alleys. Where Kyoto is all about traditional dining, Osakan chefs want you to be engaged. Expect the same level of skill and presentation you’ll find across Japan, but in a livelier, relaxed atmosphere.