Dotonbori Food Guide
One of the reasons why we’ve visited Osaka so many times is because it has amazing food, some of the best in Japan. And no one place in Osaka offers more for food travelers than Dotonbori in Osaka, Japan, Osaka’s famous food street. In this Dotonbori food guide, we share our tips on what to eat in Dotonbori and where.
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What Is Dotonbori Food Street
We love Osaka because it has everything for the food loving traveler. There are almost 100 Michelin-starred restaurants to cover fine dining. But, it’s also a mecca of street food and casual dining, including conveyor belt sushi, izakaya, and yakitori stands. At the center of it all is Dotonbori.
Dotonbori is a must visit destination in Osaka. It’s filled with colorful buildings, sky-high light displays, and loads of shopping and eating. When it comes to the food in Dotonbori, it’s served at loads of sit-down restaurants as well as some street food stalls lining various alleys. All of this occurs in the Namba district on the street that runs parallel to the canal.
Although you can eat in Dotonbori all day, it is at its best at night, when the district comes alive. Many restaurants and bars are open until late every night of the week. This makes it one of the top things to see in Osaka at night.
Where Is Dotonbori In Osaka
The word Dotonbori refers to both the canal and the street that runs parallel to the canal. The area dates back to the early 1600s when a merchant wanted to create a waterway to link the local area to surrounding rivers. The canal, and the region, was eventually named after him. Although the original goal was to create bustling trade, entertainment quickly followed. That means that the Dotonbori area has been known for entertainment for 400 years.
Dotonbori street and the entertainment district that surrounds it is located in south Osaka, just north of the Namba station. It’s pretty centrally located within Osaka making it one of the top things to do for food and drink travelers in Osaka. Dotonbori Street runs parallel to the canal and there are a series of pedestrian bridges that connect the neighborhood to the north and to the south.
What To Eat In Dotonbori – A Night of Kuidaore
Here, I share our must eats in Dotonbori as well as some suggestions on where to eat these amazing treats. Some of these dishes are classic Japanese offerings and some are Osakan specialities. Others are just plain fun or weird – for travelers looking for the perfect Instagrammable dish.
First a note about the Japanese concept of kuidaore. The first time I learned the word kuidaore was on an episode of Anthony Bourdain No Reservations. It roughly translates to eat until you fall over or, even better, eat until you bankrupt yourself. There is no better place to experience kuidaore in Japan than in Osaka. And the best place in Osaka is on Dotonbori Food Street. There is so much great food in a compact space. This list just scratches the surface.
Dotonbori Food Tour
Don’t want to do it yourself? Rather than finding these tasty treats on your own, why not book an Osaka food tour around Dotonbori. Book a walking tour of Dotonbori with tastings and let the experts do the leg work! Or, check out guide to the Best Osaka Food Tours And Cooking Classes.Check Out This Tour of Dotonbori Food Street
Kushikatsu At Angry Chef
This has to be one of the quintessential eating experiences in Osaka. Kushi = stick. Katsu = fried. Kushikatsu is just battered and fried stuff on a stick. For us, a trip to Osaka is not complete until we order a tray of fried stuff at Daruma, also known as “Angry Chef.”
It starts with grabbing a quick selfie with the Angry Chef just outside. Then, sit down and order a few skewers, which are deep-fried while you wait. Just remember, don’t double dip into the sauce! They have a few locations in the city, but the one on Dotonbori is a classic.
There are English menus and staff is used to travelers. Each order is one stick. About 5-6 sticks per person is a great snack. Sticks cost between ¥120-240. Our favorites are the red ginger and rice cakes.
The giant red crab on top of Kani Douraku has to make it one of the most well-known places to eat in Osaka. And no Dotonbori food guide is complete without mentioning this famous crab.
The famous Dotonbori crab restaurant actually specializes in Kaiseki cuisine, which is Japanese haute cuisine. But, they also specialize in crab. Do it Dotonbori street food style and order one of the grilled crabs available for take out just outside. If you plan to sit inside, try making reservations ahead of time. Lines can be insane.
Takoyaki are fried octopus balls. It’s easy to find them in Dotonbori. In fact, sometimes it seems difficult to find something OTHER than takoyaki to eat on this famous eating street.
Batter is placed inside a specially-shaped takoyaki pan and then small pieces of octopus are placed inside. The balls are turned to cook them evenly. Sometimes they can include little bits of ginger. They are a quintessential Osaka dish, which can be topped with all sorts of sauces and flavorings. The most traditional is topped with bonito, or dried tuna flakes.
As for the best takoyaki in Dotonbori? There are a few great options. There seem to be a thousand takoyaki stalls in Dotonbori alone. There’s often a crazy long line at Acchichi Honpo. Or, try Kukuru. This is a chain with several restaurants in Osaka, but the Dotonbori location is really popular with locals. Look for restaurants with a big red octopus outside.
Okonomiyaki is a thick Japanese pancake and is a specialty of Osaka. It’s sometimes referred to as Japanese pizza but I’m not a fan of that nickname. It’s most readily found near Dotonbori.
The pancake batter is mixed with cabbage, tempura bits, and pickled ginger, and cooked on a flat top teppanyaki grill. It is served with okonomiyaki sauce, which is a sweet brown sauce, mayonnaise, dried green seaweed, and dried bonito, or dried tuna flakes.
So, where is the best okonomiyaki in Dotonbori? There are a lot of options. This is not a street food as it needs to be made on a flat-top grill. Try takoyaki as street food, but for okonomiyaki, sit down.
Try it at Chibo Dotonbori, where they specialize in okonomiyaki. Or, Hozenji Sampei offers a fluffy version. Try ordering it with yakisoba, which are fried buckwheat noodles that you can order on the bottom. Mizuno Okonomiyaki opened in 1945, just after World War II and also makes great okonomiyaki. Try their yam okonomiyaki, which is one of their signature dishes. It’s located down an alley just off the main strip. There is always a line.
Cheese Hot Dog
I did a lot of research on what to eat in Dotonbori before going. A lot has changed though since those articles were published. I read that 5Star Hotdog Saran had fun mozzarella cheese hotdogs, essentially a deep-fried cheese stick, with a hot dog at its center. They seemed to have closed, but there are two small stalls for “Cheese Hot Dog,” one on Dotonbori and one on the Riverwalk.
Dogs are between ¥400-450 depending on your choice. You can get all cheese and no dog, or half cheese and half dog, or even one dipped in pieces of potato. All are deep-fried and served with ketchup and mustard.
We love anything pork-related. Deep-fried pork is even better. Tonkatsu actually includes about two dozen thin slices of pork, all deep-fried together. In Dotonbori, try Tonkatsu at Kimukatsu, one of Osaka’s most famous pork restaurants. It’s located in the basement of the Shochikuza Theater complex. Dishes of tonkatsu cost between ¥1200-1600 yen. Maybe order one and share if traveling with a friend, to save the belly space for more foods.
Eating ramen in Osaka is certainly a must, and there are loads of great places to eat ramen across the city. If looking for the best ramen in Dotonbori, try Kinryu Ramen with the giant green dragon along the front. They actually have three locations along the boardwalk area.
For another noodle option on Dotonbori, look for some classic Japanese udon. Try the version at Kinguemon. It’s a small ramen bar and they’ve won awards for the shoyu-based ramen but they also serve some of the best udon in Dotonbori. Use the ticket machine at the front to order. They are located down an alleyway with Kinryu Ramen on the corner. This is an unofficial Osaka Ramen Street, but we ate at Kinguemon twice and it was great.
Dotonbori Ramen Pro Tip
Many of the ramen shops near Dotonbori have ticket machines out front to order. Look at the picture menu and see what you want. When you get to the machine, place your money into the slot. Order by number. Then, take the ticket to the server and they will prepare the ramen for you. This not only helps organize the ordering, but also keeps people doing food prep from having to touch money. It also makes it a lot more fun!
Conveyor Belt Sushi
For a quintessential Dotonbori sushi experience, do it conveyor belt style. As much as conveyor belt sushi is starting to pop up all over the world, our first experience with it was in Osaka years ago. Simply select the sushi you want as it passes you by. Pricing is based on the color of the plate and there is normally a pricing color chart at each seat or on the wall. Stack your plates as you eat. That’s how the server knows what to charge.
In Dotonbori, try it at Genrokuzushi. Look for the giant hand holding a piece of sushi above the door. Some people say this restaurant is where conveyor belt sushi started. Another alternative is Daikisuisan, which is popular with the locals.
It’s easy to find gyoza all over the neighborhood, but some of the best on Dotonbori Food Street are at Osaka Ohsho. Look for the giant gyoza on the front of the building.
Doing my research on what to eat in Dotonbori, I read about their gyoza hot dog. I am not sure if it was a fad or is a seasonal thing, but they don’t seem to be selling the gyoza hot dog any more. At least we couldn’t find it. I was so disappointed! But, look for it just in case and send us a photo if you find it!
Melonpan – Japanese Sweet Bread
This is another great Dotonbori street food if you like sweets. Melonpan is shaped like a melon, but doesn’t really taste like a melon. Instead, it’s a slightly sweet, buttery pastry.
There are versions that are flavored with melon, but you can get it in other varieties as well. You can try it on its own, or filled with a little soft serve ice cream. Look for it at a couple of street stalls on the east end of Dotonbori.
Dotonbori Osaka Pro Tip
Not only should you eat melonpan in Dotonbori last because it is a dessert, but also it’s pretty darn messy. This is particularly true when visiting Osaka in the summer. Get sticky and enjoy it, but save it to the end and clean up after!
If you are in need of another little dessert after an evening devouring all the Dotonbori street food, how about fish for dessert. Of course, taiyaki are just shaped like fish. Traditionally, the insides were filled with sweet potato or red bean paste. Now, they often include chocolate or custard.
Dotonbori Craft Beer
Looking for a little craft beer fix, or a place to sit down at night? Check out Dotonbori Craft Beer, which is located in the basement of the Shochikuza Theater complex. There are signs outside, which are helpful. They open at 5 pm each day. This is definitely more of a traditional Japanese restaurant that also sells their own craft beer. It is possible, though, to pop in for tasting flight of their three beers for ¥900.Learn More About Where To Drink Craft Beer In Osaka Here
Dotonbori Food Guide – Where To Eat In Dotonbori
There are so many options when it comes to Dotonbori restaurants it can seem overwhelming. I’m a big fan of trying to track down a single dish at a restaurant that specializes in it. That’s why we made some specific recommendations above. There are, however, some other options in the running for the best restaurants in Dotonbori that offer a wider variety of cuisines.
Creo-Ru offers all sorts of Osaka specialities, including takoyaki and okonomiyaki. They offer some unique options for takoyaki as well.
Kigawa is more Japanese fine dining. They specialize in 10 to 12 course meals. You can sit at a countertop with a view into the kitchen.
Hariju is the best place for shabu shabu and sukiyaki. They’ve been around since 1948 and have a reputation for serving high-quality Japanese beef.
Osaka Eating Pro Tip
Dotonbori is a fun place to eat for sure. I think every person who travels for food should check out the Dotonbori street food while traveling in Osaka. Visit for lunch or dinner to a snack, but don’t let it be the only place you eat in Osaka. There are so many great places to eat in the city, and great neighborhoods with loads of local food and more local atmosphere. Check out our Osaka Food Guide for more information.
What To Do In Dotonbori Osaka
I do understand it is difficult to eat non-stop no matter how hard you try. There are other things to do in Dotonbori that don’t (completely) involve eating.
The first thing to do when you arrive on Dotonbori street is to take a selfie in front of the famous Glico Man of Dotonbori. The Glico Running Man, advertising a candy brand, is one of the most well-known symbols of Osaka. He’s located just over the Ebisubashi Bridge. It was first installed in 1935, but has been refreshed over the years. Another great selfie spot is with the Kuidaore Taro, the clown playing the mechanical drum.
How about visiting the Dotonbori Konamon Museum, all about takoyaki? There is a restaurant on the lower level. But, you can make your own takoyaki wax figure, just like the plastic replicas you see in the restaurant windows. You can also check out some takoyaki demonstrations. The goal is to help you better understand the history and importance of takoyaki in a fun way.
A Dotonbori river cruise is another way to kill some time between meals. Seeing the neighborhood from the Dotonbori canal is a unique view point. Just be sure to find a cruise where they do the tour in English to learn a little while cuisine. Check out this private Dotonbori river tour.
Gotta – The Dotonbori “Food Musical”
Gotta is, well, I am not sure what to call it, other than pure Japanese style entertainment. It’s a Japanese musical review show, which tells the story of the Dotonbori area through food and legend. Characters are named after classic Osakan dishes, including kushikatsu and ramen. There is an evil monster in the river that needs to be defeated. There is singing, tap dancing, drumming, and all sorts of activity.
Buy tickets ahead of time here. They offer three shows a day, with the last show being at 3:00 pm. The show is only 40 minutes, so it’s not a big time commitment. It’s just something quirky and unique to do in Dotonbori. It is certainly not a Broadway protection, and left us with more questions than answers. But, if you want to kill some time between meals, this is one way to do it.
FAQs - Osaka’s Dotonbori Street
All of Dotonbori is a night market! It’s one of the top places to visit in Osaka at night. There’s plenty of atmosphere and, of course, great food.
Because Dotonbori is an area of Osaka with loads of restaurants and street food stalls, there are no set hours. It’s a perfect late-night destination, though. Many restaurants open around 10 or 11 am and stay open late until 2 am or even later.
The Dotonbori area is located in the south district of Osaka. There is no Dotonbori station. The closest subway station is the Namba Subway Station. It takes about five minutes to walk from Namba to Dotonbori. You can travel from Osaka Station to Dotonbori in about 35 minutes, via the Imamiya Station. In the end, just follow the crowds and sniff it out like a hound dog. When you get out of the station, you are not far from some of the best food in Dotonbori. And, a whole lot of fun.
Osaka Castle is less than 5km from Dotonbori. It can easily be reached using the Osaka Metro system.