Conveyor belt sushi
Popular not only throughout Japan, but also now overseas, kaiten sushi (conveyor belt sushi) allows patrons to select their sushi of choice by taking plates off the revolving belt as they pass by.
This casual semi-self-service style, which offers inexpensive prices and transparent accounting, are ideal for families and tourists and have become tremendously popular.
Kaitenzushi got its start in Osaka, after the founder of Genroku Sangyo, the parent company of a small standing sushi restaurant in Fuse, Higashiosaka, visited a beer factory in the city of Suita, Osaka prefecture, and saw bottles rotating around on a conveyer belt and being filled with beer.
His shop was extremely popular, and because he had no time to take orders and then begin preparing them, he kept individual portions of hand-pressed sushi shrimp, squid, and octopus stacked on plates in a pyramid formation, and would hand them to customers as they were ordered.
Understaffed and distressed, he realized that utilizing a conveyer belt would be a helpful labor-saving tool. Fuse is home to numerous small businesses, and he asked one of his regular customers—a manager at a company in the iron industry—to set about developing a conveyer belt. The most difficult challenge was in developing the corners, as the plates were unable to smoothly go around them and often fell off.
Following a long period of struggle, the problem was finally resolved—and the sushi conveyer belt built—several years later. The first conveyer belt in a sushi restaurant, known as a rotating table, opened in 1958.
The apparatus was a huge hit among Osakans, who are known for being fans of all things new and different, and began to appear in other restaurants as well. After being showcased in the Osaka World Expo of 1970, its visibility rose exponentially.
A nationwide sushi conveyer belt popularity boom followed—with the device also serving as a driving force behind sushi’s cultural shift from a luxury item to an everyday household food.
Genroku Sushi restaurant is now found all over the Osaka region.
※Photo Provided byGenroku Sushi
Udon & Udonsuki
In Osaka, udon noodles are famed for the way that their softness harmonizes gently with the kombu and skipjack-accented broth. One age-old favorite is salty-sweet kitsune udon, where the noodles are topped with fried tofu boiled to plump perfection.
The style of accenting it with condiments such as takoyaki sauce, mayonnaise, aonori (green laver, or edible seaweed) and skipjack flakes are said to be an influence from okonomiyaki following the end of the Second World War.
Sushi in Tokyo is known as Edomae, and is pressed by hand. Osaka’s famous style of sushi, meanwhile, is pressed sushi. “Box sushi” is one example: the toppings and vinegared rice are placed into a square wooden mold and pressed to fit. Watching the process of pressing box sushi is mesmeric.
A restaurant customer ordered the same thing daily: an omelette with rice. The cook decided to enliven the dish accenting the rice with ketchup and wrapping it in a thinly fried omelette.
Along with takoyaki, this dish may rightly be described as Osaka soul food. While both dishes involve dissolving flour in dashi, okonomiyaki includes cabbage—a non-negotiable ingredient—usually along with pork, as well as whichever additional ingredients you like.
Kushikatsu eateries are found not only in the Shinsekai district, but all over Osaka . In addition to the lively, bar-like establishments, there are also fancy kushikatsu specialty restaurants with a unique creative menus.
Kappo, which became an established style of Japanese cuisine in the late 1910s, is said to have originated in Osaka.
Japan’s various regions are home to local hot pots, and Osaka is no exception. Local versions include udonsuki and sakanasuki (wheat flour noodles and fish flavored hot pot, respectively), whale meat hot pot, and the much-loved wintry special, tecchiri, or fugu hot pot. Also popular are chiritori (“dustpan”) nabe and motsu nabe, both featuring beef intestines and vegetables.
These soft buns are made by fermenting a flour and water-based batter that is then stuffed with fillings and steamed.