Curry was brought to Japan via India during the Meiji period, where it was transformed into a much-loved "curry and rice". This was followed by numerous additional variations, including deep-fried bread buns with curry filling, wheat flour noodles in a curry broth, and curry-flavored soup.
Nearly unrecognizable to people from India, who are often surprised due to its completely different taste, Japanese curry is its own unique and beloved dish that may truly be described as a national food.
Osaka is celebrated for its diverse selection of curries on offer, including specialty restaurant chains in addition to privately-managed establishments—all of which offer their own creative twists to the popular dish. Curry in Osaka may generally be divided into two broad categories. The first is a salty-sweet version that was historically popularized at restaurants including Jiyuken, which was established in 1910 in the Minami district, and at the Indian Curry restaurant beginning in 1947. Begun as a fruity and sweet dish, the flavor of this local curry was later developed to incorporate a gradual infusion of spiciness—a unique recipe that earned it a mention in numerous literary works.
The second version is known as spice curry, which has recently been in vogue. Featuring a smooth, flourless texture, the spice takes center stage in this dish, which includes a dashi-based version, as well as one known as aigake that features a spread of two or three different curry flavors. A delicious symbol of Osaka free-spiritedness, this spiced curry has also recently found its way onto waiting plates in Tokyo, where it has received considerable acclaim.
The first version of Japan-made curry powder was also created in Osaka—as was the boil-in-the-bag version of curry, which was developed by an Osaka-based company. Popular curry neighborhoods in Osaka include the Minami district and the Tanimachi 6-chome area of the city. Curry lovers in Osaka are serious about their passion, and the playful Osaka spirit—combined with the multicultural nature of the region, and an openness to new and creative tastes— helped bring a diverse array of curry-based flavors onto the local culinary scene.
Yakiniku and horumon (grilled meat and innards) / Tsuruhashi district,
Yakiniku (grilled meat), nowadays a firm favorite cuisine in Osaka, has also become much-loved among the city’s foreign visitors.
A plethora of well-loved ramen restaurants are to be found in Osaka, including longstanding shops in the Minami district that sees never-ending queues of customers, and additional popular establishments to which ramen lovers travel from all corners of the country.
Depachika (underground food avenues)
Literally an abbreviated version of the phrase “department store basement”, depachika refers to food markets located on the bottom floor of department stores.
Rooftop beer gardens
Japan’s first beer garden opened in Yokohama in 1875, targeting foreign residents and sailors on foreign ships—but the country’s first rooftop beer garden was in nowhere other than Osaka.