My visit to Japan, Osaka, was during the transition from Spring to Summer in May of 2018. I absolutely adore Osaka! The food, the shopping, the weather, the food. There were many highlights on this trip so here’s a list of places I would highly recommend:

 

1. Kuromon Ichiran Market 

I kicked off the trip with a visit to Kuromon Ichiran Market! It was a walk away from our accommodation so this was our first food stop. We came here for some fresh seafood and we sure weren’t disappointed.

(We explored the market and got ourselves some grilled crab.)

(Grilled scallops for two!)

(A plate of oden)

Oden was on my ‘MUST EAT’ list in Japan. Oden is a renowned Japanese one-pot dish in which ingredients like fishcake, white radish and eggs are immersed in the soy-flavoured dashi broth to absorb its flavour. You should never skip over the radish when you have oden; it was juicy, soft and has its own natural sweetness!

(Super sweet freshly squeezed melon juice!)

Did you know?
Half of Japan’s total output for farming, agricultural and fisheries is sold through cooperatives! Japan is big on cooperatives — similar to Singapore, Japan also have cooperatives involved in various cooperatives in the banking, welfare service, insurance and medical care industry. (https://www.japan.coop/en/)

Location:
2 Chome-4-1 Nipponbashi, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0073, Japan
Opening hours:
9AM – 6PM daily

 

2. Tenjinbashisuji Shotengai Shopping Street 

I came across Harukoma Sushi Restaurant through recommendations online. Through my research, it seemed like the best bet for affordable quality sushi in Osaka so I gave it a shot!

We all have that friend who avoids sashimi at all cost — and that friend came to Japan with me (what a waste, I know). Nonetheless, she enjoyed her sushi just as much as I did! We were served huge chunks of fish and even the maki was larger than what we usually have in Singapore. The eel and ebi were hugeeee and the slabs of sashimi were thick, fresh and sweet! I’m confident we can never find sushi of such generous serving, quality and price in Singapore! I even came back to this place on the last day to get one last taste of fresh authentic sushi!

Location:
5-5-2 Tenjinbashi, Kita-ku, Osaka, Japan
Opening Hours:
11AM – 9:30PM daily

(Top from left to right: cheese and teriyaki bun, sweet potato bun
Bottom from left to right: peach danish, green tea croissant)

Whilst in search for Harukoma Sushi, we chanced upon this quaint bakery that sold a wide variety of bread and pastries. I was so excited when I saw the green tea croissant, I quickly took a bite into what seems to be a genius medley of foods (at that point of time at least).


The flaky, buttery croissant powdered with sugar and green tea. With every bite, oozed out cream that was infused with green tea flavour. it was hands down the best croissant I ever had.

So here’s a tip: When you’re in Japan, it’s easy to skip over these little shops along the street but if one catches your eye, stopping by wouldn’t hurt; you might just find a hidden gem just like I did! P.s. I still dream of the green tea croissant till this day.

Location:
Tenjinbashi, Kita Ward, Osaka, 532-0011, Japan

Another thing I couldn’t miss was yakiniku, essentially ‘grilled meat’, in Japan. We didn’t plan to visit any yakiniku restaurants so we simply googled for the nearest restaurant in our vicinity and it was one of the best meals I had here!

We decided on Yakiniku & Horumon Susumu – a hole-in-the-wall, standing yakiniku bar. The bar didn’t seem popular among tourists as there were only locals in sight. The chef who was also our waiter couldn’t speak English but they have a menu with pictures so fret not!

Their open kitchen concept allowed us to watch the chef slice the cuts before us as we wait eagerly to savour them. Most of the meat was simply seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked over charcoal. The smoky, tender beef was undeniably AMAZING.

I also tried beef tongue for the first time here and I loved it. It tasted as good as the other cuts but slightly more chewy.

The bar was smokey from all that barbeque but that can be easily overlooked when you get to savour the fine taste of quality meat at a reasonable price in a cosy bar. If you want to enjoy yakiniku like a true local, I highly recommend this place!

Location:
5 Chome-6-22 Tenjinbashi, Kita Ward, Osaka, 530-0041, Japan
Opening Hours:
5PM – 12AM daily

 

3. Luke’s Lobster

Famous lobster roll all the way from the US? No outlets in Singapore yet??? I’m trying it in Osaka for sure. I opted for the half wasabi, half original lobster roll. The bun was warm, buttery and soft on the inside and toasty on the outside, stuffed with large chunks of well-seasoned lobster in-between. I can’t decide which I like better, both the wasabi and original seasoning enhanced the flavour of the lobster in their own way but I’m certain that Luke’s Lobster is worth the hype.

Location:
1 Chome-5-20 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0085, Japan
Opening Hours:
11PM – 9PM daily

 

4. Ichiran Ramen

Anyone who comes back from Japan never fails to rave about Ichiran Ramen as if their lives have been changed and I can attest to that. This mouth-watering bowl of ramen leaves a trail of patrons queuing for at least 45 minutes during dinner time but trust me, it is worth it. Dining at Ichiran is an experience in itself; we were seated in our own private booth (with dividers that can be unlocked) and served through the shutter in front of us. The rich milky tonkotsu broth will leave you craving for more. I would say it is a necessity to have Ichiran in your itinerary, you would most likely visit it more than once.

Location:
Dotonbori outlet:
1 Chome-4-16 Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0071, Japan

Shinsaibashisuji outlet:
Japan, 〒542-0085 Osaka, Chuo Ward, Shinsaibashisuji, 1 Chome−3−29 ミヤプラザ心斎橋 1F

Opening Hours:
Open 24 hours

 

5. Shittennoji Flea Market

This flea market sold everything:-

From household appliances to textiles and ceramics – my friend also found an Olympus camera among the lot.

If you enjoy vintage shopping like me, you’d go crazy in here! (I died. And resuscitated.) It feels like I’m on a search for a gem in a sea of secondhand clothes; I can’t wait to sweep through the many tees and shirts to find the one-of-a-kind top that I will soon get my hands on! I snagged more secondhand clothes here at a wayyy cheaper price as compared to the vintage shops in town.

There were vintage shirts, outerwears, jackets and tops but don’t expect to find a whole rack of band tees here! The vendors were very approachable and considerate; I recall purchasing a few items from this middle aged man, I failed to check the items but at the point of purchase, he checked it for me and he spotted a stain (that could easily be washed off). He decided to give the top to me and he even exclaimed, “Present!”. It was a delight to patronize the stalls here, everyone was warm and cordial with each other; resembling some sort of kampung atmosphere.

Warabi Mochi – The mochi was prepared on a big block of ice and then coated in roasted soy powder. Cold, sweet, soft and chewy; it was the perfect snack for a warm day out shopping!

Location:
1 Chome-11 Shitennoji, Tennoji Ward, Osaka, 543-0051, Japan
(Opened only on the 21st and 22nd of the month)

There you have the few places you should not skip over in Osaka. Looking back at this trip, I’m already eager to have my next jaunt to Japan!


This article was brought to you by Grace Lee who was an intern at SNCF during her university semester break from June to August 2019 and is currently pursuing her degree in Singapore Management University.

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