The people of Osaka are known for their food obsession. Their devotion to delicious is best described by a local saying, "Osaka no kuidaore," meaning in Osaka people eat their fortune.
Cuisines from all over the world are represented here in tens of thousands of restaurants, cheap eateries and street vendors dotted throughout the mazes of alleys in the city known as Japan's kitchen.
Among most popular local foods are varieties of the flour-based fried dishes called konamon.
Okonomiyaki, the most typical variety of konamon, is made by mixing flour, shredded cabbage and soup stock into a batter, then pan-frying it with your choice of additions -- pork, seafood, eggs or bits of everything. Then it is topped with mayonnaise, a Worcestershire-style sauce and bonito flakes.
(Takoyaki octopus balls cooked by a street vendor in Osaka.)
Takoyaki octopus balls, also a popular sort of konamon, are a snack made of flour batter, broth, and diced octopus. The mixture is cooked on a special iron griddle in half-spherical molds.
Skilled takoyaki cooks show great dexterity as they flick, turn and flip each ball to ensure they are evenly browned, a spectacle no tourist should miss.
For both styles of konamon, the sprinkle of bonito flakes adds a touch of smokiness and umami. The paper-thin flakes dance as they are caressed by the heat emanating from the food below, eating them straight will bring delight, Osaka-style.
Another typical local cuisine, kushikatsu, are deep-fried skewers of meat and vegetables served with a dark sauce. But remember, double-dipping, or "nidozuke," is a no-no as sauces are shared.
(The Shinsekai area near Tsutenkaku Tower, a landmark of Osaka.)
Although these dishes may be no fancier than street food, locals put in their best efforts to find the finest. The best spot to start a search is around the Namba and Nippombashi subway stations where restaurants are packed within a 1 square kilometer area.
Along a canal north of the stations is the famed Dotonbori, the city's top entertainment district with its neon light-bathed streets full of restaurants and takoyaki vendors.
Kuromon Ichiba marketplace just a block south of Nippombashi station is the spot for fresh local produce, with over 100 shops offering the city's best.
(The Kuromon Ichiba market place in Osaka.)
The Shinsekai area, further south but within walking distance, around the landmark Tsutenkaku Tower, is the heart of kushikatsu, with restaurants crammed into the heaving, narrow streets.
If the tourist-beaten track is a turn-off, the Ura-Namba area south of Namba station is worthwhile. Sophisticated restaurants run by a new generation of chefs have popped up recently to meet the demand of food-focused locals.
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