In Osaka, kushikatsu are made by skewering various meats and vegetables, coating them in a flour-based batter and panko breadcrumbs, and then deep-frying them in oil.
And woe betide anyone who double-dips their kushikatsu in the sauce pot! A famed local neighborhood for the skewers is Janjan Yokocho Alley, located in the Shinsekai district near the Tsutenkaku tower, which is lined with longstanding establishments that date back to the immediate postwar period, as well as newer shops whose popularity sees lines snaking out of the door.
Kushikatsu are normally eaten counter-side in a casual atmosphere with the sauce served in trays and all the cabbage you can eat. The wide assortment of skewer options include beef, shrimp, asparagus, egg and cheese—all enjoyed together with the star of the show:
the crunchy coating. 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.
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.
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.
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.
These soft buns are made by fermenting a flour and water-based batter that is then stuffed with fillings and steamed.