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Osaka - Japan

The Japanese have a special term that sums up the people of Osaka: kuidaore, which literally means "eat till you drop." This is good news for visitors. Whatever tickles your fancy is available here, whether it be a local specialty or something from one of the far off corners of the globe.  In Osaka you can dine on the tightest of budgets or splurge and spend a month's wages on one meal. The choice is yours!

Okonomiyaki, a thick savory pancake made of shredded cabbage and diced seafood or meat, is a famous Osaka dish that has now spread throughout Japan. It is often grilled by diners at their tables and usually topped with a brown sauce, a sprinkle of dried seaweed powder, and shaved bonito flakes. Check out Kiji Umeda to sample some of the best of this local favorite.

Then, of course, there's sushi, but although you will find many restaurants serving it, such as Kakiyasu in the Hep Navio shopping center and Daidaiya, you should also make a point of trying some of the regional flavors, such as Kagoshima-style noodles from Kamitora, where they make them fresh by hand. For a substantial meal at rock bottom prices, there is an amazing selection of restaurants specializing in noodles here, and if eating them while enjoying a fantastic view of the city sounds good to you, try out the soba and udon noodles at Kineya. Or for something really special, try chanko ryori, the staple fare of sumo wrestlers in training, at Gomasuri Chanko.

The top Japanese restaurants in Osaka, such as Kanidoraku Honten, serve kaiseki ryori. Be prepared to pay top prices in these restaurants, but what you get for your money is a total culinary experience. Waitresses in kimonos will serve you a gorgeous selection of seasonal seafood and vegetables, including sashimi, tempura, boiled vegetables, pickles and soup, artistically laid out on exquisite ceramic platters. Not to worry though, you can still get great, authentic Japanese food without the high price tag and elaborate service at such comfortable, yet traditional places like Wakamatsu.For something even less formal but just as delicious, try the okonomiyaki at Sennichimae Hatsuse, which has been making the local speciality since 1945.

Osaka is also blessed with European restaurants that cover just about every country on that continent, and Chuo-ku is one of the best places to find your favorite international cuisines. If Italian is what you're after, the seasonal menu at Pietra Santa is sure to please, or for tastes from the Asian mainland, sample Thai at Krungtep or indulge in Indian cuisine at Bombay Kitchen Shinsaibashi, a popular local spot. England (Pig & Whistle) and Ireland (Key Point) are also well represented in the form of pubs that serve pub fare accompanied by British and Irish beers.

One of the biggest attractions in Konohana-ku is Universal Studios Japan, and like its American counterparts, the Universal Citywalk Osaka is a great place to go to find some favorite, albeit more Western, flavors like BubbaGump Shrimp, a chain familiar to many Americans. Wolfgang Puck Cafe offers the celebrity chef's signature style of California-style cuisine to tourists visiting the Citywalk, and Kua' Aina is the place to go if you're craving a burger and fries that have a Hawaiian flair.  For those not headed to Universal Studios, the Hard Rock Cafe is another well-known option in Konohana-ku, where hopeful visitors may have the chance to catch a glimpse of some of their favorite celebrities from both the music and movie industries.

If you had to name just one thing not to be missed during a visit to Osaka, it might just be the food.  From the foreign to the downright familiar, it's all available here, and it's everywhere. So whether your preference is to lounge in a fine restaurant, or snack on a local specialty from the cart of one of the city's many ubiquitous street food vendors, there will be no shortage of options in this fantastic food-lovers paradise.

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