Osaka has a rich food culture, with many regional dishes that are now popular throughout Japan (and even the world). However, most of Osaka's most famous cuisines are not at all thought of as being 'high class' or 'fancy.' Despite this, the City boasts 97 restaurants that were awarded stars in the 2019 guide. Here is a list of 6 picks from 3 stars to Bib Gourmand.
[3 Stars] Hajime
Hajime is one of just four 3-Michelin star restaurants in Osaka, and is said to be one of the top 50 restaurants in the world! It serves incredibly beautiful and intricate dishes. You will be blown away by the artistry required for the making of each plate.
The Chef, Hajime Yoneda, studied French cuisine in France before starting his own restaurant in Osaka. The theme of Hajime is nature, and this can be observed in the dishes. One of the chef's most famous creations is "chikyu," which means the planet Earth, and is made with 110 different types of vegetables! It is simply breathtaking!
As stated above, Hajime is considered to be one of the top restaurants in the world, and the price tag reflects that. The standard tasting menu is 42,120 yen. There is also a short tasting menu for those who are in a hurry, which is 30,240 yen. If you'd like wine pairing to accompany your meal, it is and additional 14,580 to 27,000 yen (depending on the number of wine glasses you would like). It almost goes without saying that a reservation is most definitely required to dine here.
[2 Stars] Kitahachi
Kitahachi is a 2-star Michelin restaurant specializing in Fugu, and is unquestionably THE place to have the world's best fugu. (Fugu, in case you've never heard of it, is a puffer-fish that contains a deadly toxin that must be carefully removed during preparation of the fish.) It should be mentioned that the restaurant is closed from May to September, so don't plan a visit during the summer! Also, this place is reservations only, so plan in advance!
Fugu is a special delicacy in Japan, and is on many people's list of cuisines to try at least once before they die. If you're in this category, Kitahachi is the perfect place to enjoy the best fugu meal you'll ever have. Chef Kitahachi is not only a talented chef, but he is also the chairman of the Japanese Fugu Society, and is an expert on the fish.
[1 Star/Soba/Affordable] Ayamedo
If you're curious to try a Michelin-Starred restaurant that won't break the bank, Ayamedo is your best bet! Just a minute walk from Tanimachi 6-chome station, you will find this small restaurant with a retro looking storefront. Everything about the restaurant, from the prices to the decorations make it seem like an ordinary soba restaurant, but the food is exceptional, and was good enough to earn the place one Michelin Star.
Here, nothing on the menu goes above ¥2,000, and most soba dishes are only around ¥1,000, which is standard price for any soba restaurant. The difference is that this place has a Michelin star! One of the special items here is the duck broth soba, which is a very affordable ¥1,300. A side item worth ordering is the 'yaki miso,' which is served scorched on a large wooden spoon.
[1 Star/Kushiage] Wasabi
Kushiage is one of Osaka's famous local cuisines. It is basically meat or vegetables skewered on a stick, breaded, and deep fried (not exactly fine dining, but delicious). Kushiage restaurants can be found throughout the city (and country), but only one has become fancy enough to earn a Michelin Star. That restaurant is called Wasabi, and is located a block away from Dotonbori.
At Wasabi, diners can order a la carte (as is typical of most kushiage restaurants,) or go for the 'Omakase Course' (leave everything up to the chef). The ingredients used change based on the season, and every day the chef uses more than 30 different ingredients in her cooking. If you choose the omakase course (reccomended), your meal will cost between ¥5,400 and ¥14,580, based on which ingredients are being used on that day. This is definitely some of the best kushiage you can get anywhere, and is highly recommended.
[Bib Gourmand/Takoyaki] Takoriki
Takoyaki is another of the famous Japanese foods that originated in Osaka. There are currently no takoyaki restaurants in Osaka that have earned a Michelin star, but there is one that earned the Michelin Guide's Bib Gourmand award for being a tasty and affordable place to eat.
The restaurant's basic takoyaki is ¥1,000 for 14, and features Japanese-caught octopus from nearby Ise. There are some other interesting and delicious items on the menu, such as the 'Salty Cheese Takoyaki' and the 'Takoyaki Gratin.' At night time, the owner turns the shop into a fancier bistro, and serves various original dishes and wine.
If you're looking to try all of the best takoyaki in Osaka, this place has to be on your list.
[Bib Gourmand/Okonomiyaki] Kiji
Kiji is a legendary okonomiyaki restaurant that now has branches accross the country. However, the original Kiji Okonomiyaki restaurant is in Osaka's central district near Umeda Station. The joint is unquestionably one of the most highly regarded places for authentic Osaka-style okonomiyaki at a totally affordable price. The great thing about this place is that there are no reservations, so you'll definitely be able to get in!
Like the takoyaki place listed above, this shop doesn't have a Michelin Star, but is listed in the Michelin Guide as a Bib Gourmand restaurant. The prices here are unbelievable for such a legendary place; Every okonomiyaki is 850 yen or less!
The secret to the great taste of Kiji is the use of a special dried herb "Ooba" (perilla in English) that adds a fresh taste to the okonomiyaki. Also, another original and very popular item is the "Modern Okonomiyaki" that is made without using flour. Instead, more eggs are used which gives the okonomiyaki a much fluffier texture.
This has been a quick guide to 6 fantastic restaurants listed in the 2019 Michelin Guide. There is definitely something for every budget and appetite in here, so hopefully it'll prove useful. Have a great time in Osaka, and enjoy all the great food!