Dotonbori (道頓堀)

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Located in the southern downtown area of the city running alongside Dotonbori River (道頓堀川), Dotonbori (道頓堀) is probably the most popular tourist attraction and entertainment area in Osaka (大阪). With hundreds of restaurants, food stalls and shops, it's not hard to see why the city is also known as "the nation's kitchen" because it's a total heaven for foodies! Dotonbori also has a very vibrant night scene and is well known for their neon billboards—especially the famous Glico Man sign, which is a landmark in itself.

Unless you visit Dotonbori very early in the morning, it's always bustling with people—particularly in the evening to night. Personally, I think Dotonbori looks best around evening time, when it's not too dark and there's still some of that natural light peeking through. We visited a good handful of times because it was convenient to get to, and all the recommended restaurants were mostly situated in Dotonbori.

After we left our luggage at our Airbnb, the first meal we went to have is Osaka Ohsho (大阪王將), a chain of restaurants specialising in gyoza. I'm not a huge fan of gyoza (I don't mind them, but they're not my go-to type of food), but I honestly think they were the best gyoza I've ever had. (In fact, we went back on our last day in Japan to have the dumplings again as a snack.) The filling was not too overly flavourful, it was juicy on the inside, and the charred side of the gyoza had just the right amount of crispiness. My only complaint is that they were a little bit too oily. We ordered 12 dumplings to share and a bowl of ramen each. The ramen was nothing special, but it did feel very homey and I liked how simple it was.

There are a lot of food that you must try in Osaka, such as takoyaki (たこ焼き), okonomiyaki (お好み焼き), and kushikatsu (串カツ), Japanese beef, ramen, sushi and sashimi. However, since takoyaki—which is said to have originated from Osaka—is actually one of my most favourite Japanese dishes, I made it a "mission" to eat as many takoyaki as possible from different places. The first shop we ate from is the Dotonbori Kukuru Konamon Museum (道頓堀コナモンミュージアム), with the iconic octopus signage. The takoyaki tasted okay, but they were too soggy for my liking and they couldn't keep their shape.

The last takoyaki shop we had before leaving Japan was Takoya Dotonbori Kukuru (たこ家 道頓堀くくる). It's not popular as the one above, but I think they had the best takoyaki from what we've tried and I would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting Osaka. I really wanted to eat it again before leaving Japan, but we just couldn't find the stomach space. The shop is not as eye catching as Dotonbori Kukuru Konamon Museum, which is probably why people often overlook this one, but whenever we walked by, there would always be handful of people lining up outside.

Although we rarely stayed out late, I loved how bright and vibrant the atmosphere of Dotonbori was. I think I was a bit overwhelmed with the shopping due to the amount of shops there are, but as long as you just try to narrow things down and not to get too bogged down with shopping lists, you'll definitely enjoy what is truly the heart of Osaka.

Osaka Ohsho (大阪王將)
1-6-13 Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka 542-0076
542-0076 大阪市 中央区 道頓堀 1-6-13

Dotonbori Kukuru Konamon Museum (道頓堀コナモンミュージアム)
1-6-12 Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka 543-0001
543-0001 大阪市 中央区 道頓堀 1-6-12

Takoya Dotonbori Kukuru (たこ家 道頓堀くくる)
1F Hakua Building, 1-10-5 Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka 542-0071
542-0071 大阪市 中央区 道頓堀 1-10-5 白亜ビル1階

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