A trip to Osaka is not complete without visiting Dotonbori. The plan was to head straight there after our time at Universal Studios Japan. However, a few minutes from the gates of USJ was a lovely suprise – the Osaka Takoyaki Museum, located along the Universal City Walk. Our hungry tummies just had to take a detour!
Takoyaki, a popular Japanese street food, originated in Osaka. This ball-shaped snack is made with minced or diced octopus (Tako) and cooked in a special pan. Five of Osaka’s most famous shops (Aiduya, Juuhachiban, Kukuru, Kougaryu, and Yamachan) have been assembled at the Osaka Takoyaki Museum to showcase their own take on the well-loved snack.
Since we were preparing ourselves to sample Osaka’s culinary delights at Dotonbori, we just chose one stall, Kougaryu, to have our Takoyaki fix.
We tried the 16-piece sampler with 4-flavors priced at ¥880. I liked the Welsh Onion Citrus for its tangy kick while JR liked the Soy Sauce flavor. The balls were smaller compared to a regular takoyaki, perfect if you want to taste several flavors at once without filling-up.
After resisting the urge to visit another stall, we headed to Dotonbori.
Roaming Around Dotonbori
Being one of Osaka’s most popular nightlife areas, Dotonbori comes to life with large illuminated sign boards. We arrived at around 6:00 in the evening and the crowd was already building up.
Colorful sign boards competing for your attention
Crowd at 6:00 in the evening
As we strolled along the bright street, we had a difficult time deciding which store to visit first. Everything just looks good! After walking for a while, we found this takoyaki store and I spent a few minutes convincing JR that it wasn’t a bad idea to start our food trip with this one even though we just had takoyaki (16 pieces of it, mind you) less than an hour ago.
Who could say no to this? The octopus is so adorable!
He finally gave in and we found ourselves lining up for some delicious takoyaki! Since we just had a medley of different takoyaki flavors, we decided to have the ordinary kind. But online reviews also say that the bacon and cheese flavor is a good choice.
It was entertaining to watch these guys in action
See the chunks of octopus?
Precious balls ready to be eaten
8 pieces of takoyaki. ¥650
We waited for a few minutes before eating as the takoyaki was really hot. Served with Japanese mayo, takoyaki sauce, bonito flakes, and aonori (dried green seaweed), it was delicate and creamy, with an ample amount of tender octopus in every bite.
After eating all those savory balls, we spotted a dango stall nearby. I’ve always wanted to try one since Anko Mitarashi from Naruto likes it so much (yes, I still watch Naruto and yes, I like Anko). Also, ¥150 for 4 pieces was a reasonable price in our opinion.
Charming little stall with an equally charming staff (he says he’s from Vietnam)
The aroma of the slightly burnt Japanese dumplings was interesting
Served in a stick and covered in a sweet soy sauce glaze
It was not what I expected at all. I thought it would be sweet and salty, but it was just…salty. It was a good thing that there were other things to try in Dotonbori. We were not disappointed too much.
As we continued to look for our next target, the takoyaki lover in me squealed in delight when I saw a store selling takoyaki made with baby octopus. I had to convince my husband again to try it because I just had to. When he realized that logic would not stand a chance against baby octopus takoyaki, he agreed to try it.
Whole baby octopus in a takoyaki!
I mean, come on! Look at those babies!
Plus, they have a vending machine! It’s always fun to use a vending machine, don’t you think?
¥500 for 4 pieces
Unfortunately, all the excitement was gone when I took the first bite. It was extremely hot! It was so hot that tears fell out of the corner of my eyes. We already waited long enough before eating it but it still managed to burn our tongues. The inside was watery, and the baby octopus was chewy. I had to chew so hard that my jaw started to feel numb. My takoyaki-loving heart got broken so badly by the experience that I don’t think we’ll have takoyaki for a while.
As we gave our tongues time to heal, we decided it was time for desert. We found this Taiyaki store a little outside Dotonbori and hoped that this would uplift our fallen spirits.
Taiyaki store outside Dotonbori, across BIC Camera
Fish-shaped Japanese cakes
Taiyaki is commonly filled with red beans but there are other fillings as well. This shop sells taiyaki filled with red beans and sweet potato. We decided to get the red bean flavor since I’m more familiar with the taste as I used to eat a lot of Korean red bean ice cream sandwiches.
Red Bean Taiyaki. ¥160
Generous filling of red beans!
It was sweet and tasty! Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. I suggest to take your time eating it as the red bean can be a little overpowering.
We ended our Dotonbori trip with melon pan (or melon bread) ice cream. Bloggers rave about this and we had to try it for ourselves. The bread is not actually made with melon, but it resembles it. This green truck can be found near the end of Dotonbori, in an area with several food stalls. The line was long but it moved quickly. There were two flavors to choose from, Vanilla for ¥400 and Green Tea for ¥700.
It was hard to miss the truck as we noticed the long line right away
They claim to be the second most delicious melon pan ice cream in the world!
Green tea melon pan ice cream. ¥700
It was definitely the best thing we ate in Dotonbori! It was heaven on a bread, with each bite came the cold creaminess of the green tea ice cream and the fresh-from-the-oven warmth of the melon pan. The slight bitterness of the ice cream was complemented by the sweetness of the bread. If we were not stuffed, we would have ordered a second serving even if I had to line up again. Yes, it was that good!
The infamous Glico Running Man
Dotonbori is definitely a food lover’s paradise! Our hungry tummies were satisfied not only with delicious food, but also with the interesting sights. It would be best to go there at night to see the bright lights!
Address: Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0071, Japan (map)
Website: Dotonbori (in Japanese)
Operating Hours: Varies from shop to shop
How to get there:
From Osaka Station: JR (Japan Rail) Lines – Ride the Osaka Loop Line (Inner loop) bound for Tennoji at Platform 1 and alight at Imamiya Station. Transfer to the Yamatoji Line bound for JR-Namba and alight at JR-Namba. Dotonbori is around 10 minutes walk from the station. Fare from Osaka Station: ¥190
From Umeda Station: Subway – Ride the Midosuji Line for bound for any of these stations: Shinkanaoka/Nakamozu/Tennoji and alight at Namba. Dotonbori is around 5 minutes walk from the station. Fare from Umeda Station: ¥230