Food Library - Kuidaore Osaka

Most visitors from outside Osaka agree that anything you eat in Osaka tastes delicious. Not only the ordinary 'Osaka food' such as Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki and Kitsune Udon, but any other food you may try, whether it's Japanese, Western, Chinese, Korean or even a simple dish ordered at a cafe are bound to satisfy you. According to the Koujien, a popular Japanese dictionary, "Kuidaore" means to spend too much on food and loose one's fortune. But this is not the proper meaning when it is used for Osaka. It would have to mean 'to enjoy really good food to the last drop'. The reason why everything tastes so good is because the food culture of Osaka is built on being adhere to taste and ingredients.

Excellency of Osaka's Food
"Where can you find good food in Osaka?" It's a simple question, but the answer is complicated. There are millions of places we recommend. There are millions of different foods we'd like to introduce. So it is really difficult to choose just one. Osaka has a very long history of seeking good food and having its original taste. Abundance of ingredients and a wide range of cooking methods allow Osaka to serve you with various excellent dishes. The chefs take great care in handling each ingredient and you can see their effort in each dish; that's what we would want you to see with your own eyes. One of the most reliable gourmet magazines in Kansai is "Amakara Techou". The executive editor and a famous food expert of Osaka, Kadokami Takeshi, refers to Osaka as "a treasure box of food". Here, we would like to introduce to you the Excellency and beauty of Osaka's treasure; food.
The Roots
Have you ever seen Osaka on the map? The Black Stream from the Pacific Ocean flows into the Osaka Bay and Seto Inland Sea. And the Osaka Plains spreads out in a fan-like form, surrounded by mountains. Its unique land features allowed goods from both sea and land to gather here, and that's how this area has become rich in products all the way back from the ancient times. For instance, Konbu or kelp that can only be gathered in Hokkaido or Touhoku was shipped to Osaka by the Kitamae-bune after the Edo period. This became an important ingredient to make soup stock which is the treasure of Osaka flavor. Usu-aji, deep but light tasting soup that blends with any kind of ingredient and is also beautiful to the eye was created. In this chapter we introduce the history and background of the food culture of Osaka.
Flavor of Osaka
The flavors of Osaka have a wide variety and cover almost any area of food. Here, we would like to introduce restaurants that we especially recommend according to six categories; "Old-fashioned taste", "Western Blends", "Cheap eats", "Loyal to traditional ingredients", "Superior brand sake" and "Sweets".
Old-fashioned taste
During its long history, old established restaurants have continuously satisfied the people of Osaka, even if the change of generation has occurred. For example at an old established Unagi (eel) restaurant, the young 15th generation is now going through tough training. One must have full knowledge of Unagi, charcoal and cooking methods to become the real master of cooking Unagi the Kansai way using Bincho charcoal. The tough training leads to the never-changing taste and results in a long term business. Osaka has not just one, but many restaurants following this style.
Osaka was influenced by the westernization that occurred in the early Meiji period (1868 - 1912). The style of clothing shifted from Kimono to western style clothing and "Shin-bra" which meant people walking along Shinsaibashi in fancy clothes, was considered high style. Curry, hamburger, ice cream, bread, cake and etc. All are western style foods introduced to the public as well. "Unique and new things" have been combined with Osaka style during the years to create its original "Osaka flavor".
Cheap eats
If you take a turn on one of the narrow streets in Osaka, you have a chance of coming across a house that has remodeled its front side to open a Takoyaki or Okonomiyaki shop. It is like a "soul food" or in a way, "mom's cooking". There are other foods such as Dote-yaki and Kushiage which are both fast, easy to eat and cheap. They can be part of a meal or a light snack. Cheap and something one can't live without - that"s what cheap eats of Osaka are all about.
Original & Traditional
There are various vegetables all year round that have passed the tough taste-test of Osaka. For example, shiitake mushrooms, Takenoko (bamboo shoots) and chestnuts from the mountains. Budrock roots, daikon radish, cabbage, onions, tomatoes and egg plants from the plains. Sweet potato from sandy soil, aroid and lotus roots from swampy lands. And Osaka is one of the top producers of garland chrysanthemums. From the Kii-suidou channel to Seto Inlands is an area rich in seafood such as bonito, flounder, tuna, sea bream, shrimp, squid and octopus. Although transportation has improved and fresh products can be transported far away, nothing compares to freshness from close by. Recently they have started to reproduce "traditional Naniwa vegetables" that have been made for more than 100 years. Hope you have a chance to enjoy the ingredients especially made in Osaka.
Superior brand sake
The mountains surrounding the Osaka plains are the source of high-grade water. The spring water here is soft and sweet and is the key to the superior brand sake made in Osaka. Ikeda, Nose, Takatsuki, Katano and Kawachi are famous places in Osaka for having a long history of producing high-grade sake. The first Japan-made whisky was made in Shimamoto, thanks to its high quality water. Sake as well as whisky made in Osaka has attracted many people with its plump and rich taste.
Osaka has many sweets to offer; manjyu, hi-gashi (dried confectionery), mochi, candy, arare (cubic rice crackers), ice cream, castella, cake and chocolate. Here, we would like to introduce some of them which are unique in design, ingredients or how they are made. Saka-manjyu that has been loved from the days of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598), manjyu in the shape of a turtle which are said to add ten years to your life per piece and ice cream made in the old-fashioned way of Taisho period - all in which you can feel the spirit of Osaka somewhere while you enjoy it.
Secret Recipes
"This dish is fantastic! If only I could get the recipe and try it at home." We are very honored and pleased to know that you feel that way. And as a token of our gratitude, we would like to show you secret recipes of famous restaurants in Osaka – recipes that we were able to get from the chefs in person. Not only the ingredients and procedures, but also tricks on how to make the recipe even better. For example, secrets on how to make a fancy carrot salad, Kitsune-udon of a popular restaurant or a croquette with Ebi-imo instead of potatoes. Come on! Be a 'chef' and try them!
"Not to do" facts
Like many other countries, Japanese food has its own table manners and etiquette rules. There are various proper rules to follow, due to the wide variety of Japanese food. Don't be afraid. We'll list them up for you, so you won't be confused when you arrive and dine.