Where to Find the Best Sushi in Osaka
credit: Raelene G
Osaka offers a huge choice of dining options, but if you’re after the perfect sushi the selection can be a bit overwhelming. Steer clear of the conveyor belt style kaiten restaurants if you hate ‘fast-food’ style sushi, although it can often be surprisingly good. Osaka was the birth place of this style of serving so it has historical merit! The higher end establishments will give you a better and more authentic experience. Here are some of our favourites of both.
If you’re not a gourmand or have trouble choosing between dishes on the menu, you might want to learn the phrase “omakase”. Omakase literally means “I’ll leave it to you” and places your trust in the chef to serve you the best sushi s/he decides to cook for you. This can be an expensive way of doing things, but takes out any language barrier or decision making difficulties. Expect to pay anywhere between 8,500-20,000¥ (£65-150). The a la carte menu is great if you are comfortable with ordering. You can always get by, by simply saying ‘kor-reh’ (“this one”) and pointing at what you want.
Sushi Harasho is a 2-star Michelin restaurant in Tennoji-ku. From the outside it is very unassuming, with a simple facade, but inside you are treated to a warm welcome and some of the best sushi in the city. Specialties include Makogarei sashimi (a Japanese cousin of the turbot) with soy sauce-soaked liver, cooked conger eel. A meal of some 23 dishes will cost around 34,000¥ (£250).
The restaurant is frequented by the great and the good of Osaka (one reviewer was in the restaurant with a top Japanese actress) and comes highly recommended by those Gaijin (foreigners to Japan) who visit. The chef’s choices will start at 15,000¥ (£110) and the a la carte menu will be around 7,000¥ (£50). Puffer fish is the forte of this restaurant, but they are also famed for their hamo sushi, made a delicate white fish.
One of the oldest and most respected restaurants in the city, it is here that the boxed sushi we know and love today was invented, in 1841. Prices start at around 1900¥ (£14) per box. These gorgeous little wooden boxes have custom printed paper and can contain anything of your choice. We’d recommend the conger eel, sea bream and mackerel. This is a little piece of sushi history and well worth a visit.
Anthony Bourdain visited this sushi shop which is barely more than a hole in the wall with just 11 seats, and described as some of the best sushi he’d ever had. It is a family-run place that you can eat at without breaking the bank – around 5500¥ (£40 for two). Try the home-made ponzu (sauce), kijihata (red-spotted grouper) and the kohada (gizzard shad).
This tiny sushi restaurant is located by the docks, not the most salubrious of locations, but its proximity implies the freshness of its produce. It’s an early morning affair, so set your alarm clock as it opens at 5am. Dishes come in plates of 5 pieces at around 1,000¥ (£7) so this is a wonderful place to get an authentic taste at affordable prices. The tuna melts in your mouth and the rice is hot when shaped so it stays soft and moist.
Whether you’re visiting for business or pleasure, the Swissotel Nankai Osaka, located in the heart of Namba, offers over 500 rooms and suites with breathtaking views of downtown Osaka.