Food Lovers Heaven: Curry Guide in Osaka, (aka “the Nation’s Kitchen”) 2021

Many international travelers who have visited Japan say that Osaka is their favorite destination in Japan, especially for foodies and excursionists. One of the exciting attractions of the city is its food. You can enjoy traditional dishes to inexpensive street foods, including a vast variety of curry dishes. Osaka is known as the “kitchen of the nation” after this port city flourished and became the center of commercial industry as well as of culinary expressions during the Edo period (1603-1868). Osaka has a famous saying called Kuidaore(食い倒れ), which means to spoil yourself with extravagant food.

Osaka-style Curry Makes Room for a Raw Egg in the Middle

The Osaka curry usually cracks a raw fresh egg on the top of the rice. Most restaurants offer you this egg for around US$1. We believed it is the most delicious curry duo! When you mix the curry sauce, rice and raw egg, it creates a more creamy texture which is delicious and brings out more complex flavors.

In 1860, the word CURRY was introduced in the English-Japanese dictionary edited by Yukichi Fukuzawa, English-Japanese dictionary(1860), Kaido Zohan, Keio University Libraries

Underground Street Treasure: Diamond Curry

This restaurant recipe is known as Osaka Underground curry, established in the 1960s. It was born in the underground shopping arcade of a building in Osaka. What you should order here are the Maze-Curry and Curry Spaghetti. The Maze-Curry is made by lightly simmering a special roux, rice, and broth creating a rich texture. The combination is uniquely flavorful! Another famous menu item is the Curry Spaghetti. It is a curry dish that uses pasta instead of rice. The delightful combination of the extra-thick fresh pasta noodles and curry will make you hooked once you try it.

Curry spaghetti

The roux is slow-simmered with Wagyu Beef, creating its juicy & savory flavor.

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Osaka International Airport: 2F, Central Block, 3-555 Hotarugaike Nishimachi, Toyonaka City, Osaka
The Original location: B1F, Osaka Ekimae Daisan Building, 1-1-3 Umeda, Kita-ku, Osaka City, Osaka

Long-established European-style Curry House: Curry Dia

This “Special Curry” is served with pork cutlet, a potato croquette, and a fried shrimp.

This old-fashioned J-curry sauce is dark in color; and its flavors are both sweet and bitter. The regular beef curry is only US$7. You can add extras such as deep-fried pork cutlet, beefsteak, and more fried food as you like for an additional cost.

“The old fashioned roux is smooth, and the spiciness is very subtle at first. However later on, the spiciness gradually comes through. This spiciness then lingers in your mouth forever.”

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2-27-17 Omiya, Asahi-ku, Osaka City, Osaka

King of Curry in Osaka: Jiyuken

Founded in 1910, this restaurant was the first Western food restaurant to be established in Osaka. The signature dish is the Specialty Curry which costs US$8. The sauce is slow-simmered for hours and is composed of many ingredients that harmoniously meld together and creates a most enticing aroma. The curry and the rice are mixed together before it is presented to the diner. Upon inspection, you can probably only recognize the onions and the pieces of beef in this most complex curry. However the rich flavor will tell you there is a multitude of secret ingredients in there! If you prefer a spicier taste, you can always add Worcestershire sauce whixh is on all the tables in the place.

The curry appears in Sakunosuke Oda’s novel Meoto Zenzai. The main character says, “Jiyuken’s rice curry is delicious as the rice is perfectly combined with the curry.”  The restaurant burned down during WWll but was then rebuilt at the original location where it was founded.

Portrait of Sakunosuke Oda (1913-1947) at the restaurant. The local writer loved Jiyuken’s curry who created masterpieces while he enjoyed the curry dishes here.

No visit to Osaka is complete without stopping by this restaurant. Enjoy the atmosphere of old Osaka, when Western food was influential in Japan’s cuisine. 

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3-1-34 Namba, Chuo-ku, Osaka

Food as Medicine, A Post-War Curry Heals People: Indian Curry 

In the post-war recession in the 1940s, a female owner of the curry shop invited an Indian chef from India to train her in the art of curry-making. Her joy of cooking eventually led to her setting out to create a restaurant that would serve vibrant and delicious food. The base of spiciness and sweetness of this curry has remained the same since its start. 

The restaurant now has nine locations, six in Osaka, two in Tokyo, then one in Hyogo. The son of the original owner, who is the current chef, believes that his duty is to keep his mother’s original recipes intact and guarantee the freshest, highest quality ingredients and foods.

The perfect balance of sweet and spicy. The flavorful curry is prepared with spices, vegetables, fruits, and selected meats.

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The first location:1-5-20 Namba, Chuo-ku, Osaka

For Katsu Lovers: Ganso Tonkatsu Curry Katsuya

As you approach the entrance of this restaurant, you can hear the rhythmic sound of knives. The kitchen is right next to the entrance door. The owner-chef is typically slicing up a pig carcass, spreading it out on a cutting board, and skillfully butchering the pork for the next meals. The restaurant was founded in 1959 by the owner’s father as a Western-style restaurant. After the owner’s son, who is the current chef, took over the kitchen, he converted the menu to specialize in curry-based meals which showed his true passion for the art of curry. The chef then expanded his menu to add his famous tonkatsu along with the delicious curry.

The best old-fashioned Tonkatsu Curry. We recommend you to order the Tonkatsu Curry B (top loin of pork with curry), and topping it with a raw egg. 

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2-6-25 Motomachi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka City, Osaka

Transforming What We Typically Think of as Traditional Japanese Curry with Minami Semba Goyakura

It’s not your image of typical Japanese curry, but it’s still considered curry. The roux made with Hatcho miso (a traditional artisanal dark soybean paste) which has is a very unique taste that you must try at least one time. The everyday house dish is hot keema curry with a soy sauce base. Another dish is the chicken meat curry which is quite popular, but beware as this curry gets progressively hotter and hotter in taste. In addition, the place offers a combination plate that comes with two different types of roux named Aigake. This special roux combination dish changes on a daily basis.

You must taste this unique dish that skillfully incorporates Japanese flavors into the curry. 

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103 Diapalace Junkei-cho, 1-7-8 Minami-Senba, Chuo-ku, Osaka

A Spoon of Spicy Curry in Your Right Hand, and A Shishito Pepper in Your Left: Enjoy Your Michelin Star Curry at Columbia8

This curry base combines more than 30 spices with nuts and salted green beans, which create the perfect balance of spiciness and fragrance. The chef says the subtle bitterness of the shishito pepper on the top of the dish perfectly contrasts the spiciness of this signature curry. For lunchtime, you can get a free grapefruit juice with your curry, as the citric acid enhances the aroma of spices. It’s another one of the chef’s effect on contrasting flavors which prove to be wonderful.

Hanabi curry (means fireworks curry) is another one-of-a-kind menu dish. It is certainly a gem for enthusiasts of spicy food. It is truly ingenious to use an abundance of sesame seeds in this special sauce as it provides an unexpected fantastic flavor to the tastebuds. The popular curry shop which opened in 2008, currently has eight branches.

The owner-chef is known as the pioneer of “Osaka Spice Curry” and whose love for curry certainly shines in his food.

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1-3-3 Doshomachi, Chuo-ku, Osaka

The number of foreign tourists in Osaka is rapidly increasing, and they are enjoying the experience at various curry restaurants just as much as the locals. You may already know about Japanese foods such as sushi, soba, and tempura, etc., but you should try various curry dishes in Japan next time. We considered curry consumption in Japan to be very high and only second to India.

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