The thing about going to Osaka (and perhaps Japan) is that there isn’t really such a thing as itinerary. Yes, out of the 5 days we were there, we set aside 1 day for a day trip to Kyoto; we had a trip to Osaka Castle and Tsutenkaku (or even Nara) as a Plan B (in case we got bored).
Truth is, for most of the time, it was just mindless strolling through the streets of Dotonburi.
It wasn’t a big place (take a look at my explanation at the end of this post), but it was darn choke-full of stores that you might miss out in the first 3 times you passed by and yet on the fourth, it popped into sight like it was newly opened!
And so… even though we had a rough plan of what we wanted to do (like to eat takoyaki or go shop at Don Quijote), we still ended up with lotsa surprises which couldn’t really be recorded as a chronological travelogue. I will try my best to group them according to their food groups, like starting with takoyaki…
Unlike everyone who goes to Osaka because they have heard alot about it and wanted to visit the place, I went because.. . Well, let’s just say I only started real research on it just weeks prior to the trip.
It was only then I realised Osaka was The Place I could get lots of takoyaki (or tako). I mean, I when I was in Tokyo, I don’t remember seeing places that sell tako.
In Dotonburi, they have 1 store at every turn of the corner and I can’t be blamed for thinking that Osaka is the birthplace of tako!
That’s why, even if you don’t intend or crave for them, after listening to the jingle for a few hours while plying the streets of Dotonburi, you will eventually be brainwashed to have some.
Basically, if you pop in any eatery in Dotonburi, chances are if you ask for takoyaki, they will have it. Over here, however, I will highlight 3 stalls where they sold Takoyaki exclusively.
Right at the river, just 1 bridge away from Glico Man, there were 2 Takoyaki stalls. One was by the bridge, where the queues snake all the way onto the bridge. Another was just beside it, but had no queue at all.
Being the typical Singaporean, N and I went for the one with long queue – the wait was at least 15 minutes. You can’t miss it, because it had this gigantic LED signboard with an octopus on the facade of the building. In fact, we had takoyaki from this store twice, before we decided we were tired of that and gave its neighbour a try.
The one with the giant octopus was known as “Your Zor Ma” in Singlish… In Mandarin, it read “元祖大阪”, which literally translates to “Your Zor Ma”, or “The Original Ancestor in Osaka”. In Japanese, it wrote “Achichi”.
The forsaken one beside Your Zor Ma was with a giant 3D octopus as a signboard, called “Kukuru”, which in Singlish means “Your Dick”.
Either Your Zor Ma or Your Dick served takoyaki that was up-to-standard. That sauce was to die for and the balls were chewy and juicy. They didn’t scrimp on the octopus like those you found in Singapore. In fact, we were shocked that Your Dick’s balls were as good as that of Your Zor Ma, debunking our Singaporean instinct that Long Queue = Good Lobang.
To be fair, Your Dick wasn’t solely a takoyaki stall. When we explored further, we found out that the takoyaki station was an extension of a bigger Japanese restaurant and the balls were generally served to the diners. That station was there as a by-the-way so that they can still sell to random passer-by, especially those waiting in queue for Ichiran Ramen (the queue was right outside their stall).
Did I mention there were 3 Takoyaki stalls I would recommend? Oh yes…
Takoyaki Wanaka Sennichimae
We also tried takoyaki from a stall that was recommended on Tripadvisor: Takoyaki Wanaka Sennichimae near Takashimaya off Namba station. It was actually the first one we tried, after roaming the district for a while right after checking in to our hotel. We saw that there was a queue (ah… Singaporeans) and promptly proceeded to join in the fun.
The balls were served on a bamboo bowl shaped into a boat – darn environmentally friendly! And the balls looked like they were going to roll off the boat, so despite the fact that they were freaking hot, we popped them balls one by one to save them from eternal regret.
Wanaka was unique in a sense that the skin was crispier, which was a great contrast to the soft and moist flour mix wrapping the octopus. There was space beside the stall for people to finish their Takoyaki on the spot, so it was interesting to be standing there, out in the open, beside a busy street, eating balls with many others.
Naruto Taiyaki Hompo
One morning, N told me he wanted to eat Taiyaki. I was like… well, I didn’t do any research on that. Somehow, we managed to find one store, just by the main road.
And we were lucky, because the store had just opened for the day and we managed to get a taiyaki each, fresh from the pan!
The taiyaki was crispy, even after I let the taiyaki cool down – something that I liked, but not N (he prefers his taiyaki chewy). However, the best part about the taiyaki was how the azuki bean paste was found in the tail of the taiyaki!
For those uninitiated ones, in Singapore, if you find taiyaki, the stalls tend to cut cost by limiting the bean paste used. This meant that the tail of the taiyaki would be 100% flour – a.k.a waste of calories.
In Osaka, however, we managed to find bean-filled taiyaki!
Another place where we found taiyaki was in Daimaru, just off Dotonburi. We were returning from our trek to Hanare for fluffy pancakes, and decided to pop by Daimaru to escape the summer afternoon heat and to immerse ourselves in the ambience of Japan’s bustling basement food halls.
Incidentally, we found a taiyaki stall, bought one each, and proceeded to the rooftop of the building where there was a “garden” like place where we could sit down, have peace to savour the taiyaki while enjoying the blue skies and city skyline of Osaka.
The taiyaki was wrapped in a thin bamboo paper (though I wondered if that was just paper printed with wooden grain, the hard texture of the paper didn’t seem to suggest so), which made it feel very unique to eat from.
Unfortunately, the taiyaki was not piping hot, like the one from Naruto, which was because ours were not taken direct from the pan. The taiyaki was chewy (much to N’s delight) and similarly filled with azuki bean paste – oishii!!
To be continued..
This post is part of a series of travelogue on my trip to Osaka. If you enjoyed reading it, please click Like and Share the post with your friends!
I had previously blogged about our day trip to Kyoto and our hunt for pancakes around Osaka and of course, my Business Class experience on Cathay Pacific from Singapore to Osaka via Hong Kong. Follow Live.Life.Love to get updates on my travelogue to Osaka, Japan and get inspired for your summer vacation!
Till then, stay wanderlust and eat happy!
All photos and videos in this blog post were taken with Google Pixel XL and edited (where necessary) with Google Snapseed app.
Osaka’s Dotonburi Crash Course
Osaka is a foodie haven and in Namba/Dotonburi, it’s foodgasm festival all year round.
Namba, the place where everybody takes a photo with the Glico running man, is a district in south Osaka made up of a few food streets. In the main shopping area, called Dotonburi, 3 main ones run in the North-South direction, while many smaller streets cut through them. In there, you can find restaurants, kiosks and fast food alike (not to mention plenty of shopping, especially beauty products).
Dotonburi is like Myeongdong, but with more delicious food. Heck! Myeongdong is a Dotonburi copycat!
There is no clear distinction where the district starts or end; some parts just “fade out” as you walk further from the “Glico Man”, as the crowd thins out. The “Glico Man”, a huge ass billboard by the canal, would be a great reference point. Facing the billboard (the view in the first picture of this post) would be the most crowded street in Namba (and perhaps the whole of Osaka), but that was the only crowd-pulling street on that side of the river. My hotel, Holiday Inn Namba, was on the same side of the river, just a few streets away and yet barely any tourists walked by.
Along the both banks of the river, one can find tonnes of eateries. The Glico Man was just beside a main road, Mido-suji, which can be regarded as the west boundary of Dotonburi shopping district. If you walk along the river, you will walk past the huge ferris wheel of Don Quijote (a.k.a Don Don Donki in Singpanglish), before walking past less crowded eateries and shops selling toiletries and ending up at another main road, Sakai-suji, which can be regarded as the eastern border.
Another main road, where you will end up at, if you exit from Osaka-Namba Station, runs parallel to the river. The Dotonburi district runs further south from this road until the Namba Station (where Takashimaya is).
If Google Maps was able to trace our steps closely for the few days we’re in Dotonburi, it will look something like this:
Where to Find Them?
Where to Find Takoyaki
Acchichi honpo Dotombori あっちち本舗 道頓堀店
7-19 Souemonchō, Chūō-ku,
Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 542-0084, Japan
7-18 Souemonchō, Chūō-ku,
Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 542-0084, Japan
Takoyaki Wanaka Sennichimae わなか 千日前本店
11-19 Nanbasennichimae, Chūō-ku,
Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 542-0075, Japan
Where to Find Taiyaki
Naruto Taiyaki Hompo
Japan, 〒542-0074 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Chūō-ku,
Sennichimae, 1 Chome−4,
1 Chome-7-１ Shinsaibashisuji,
Chūō-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 542-8501, Japan