A Foodie's Guide To Osaka, Kyoto, and Fukuoka: Where & What To Eat

A Foodie’s Guide To Osaka, Kyoto, and Fukuoka: Where & What To Eat

Love Japanese food? We've sussed out the best spots in Osaka, Kyoto and Fukuoka that you have to visit!

The Land of the Rising Sun never fails to disappoint. Apart from its bustling cities, natural scenery and rich cultural influences, Japan also boasts of a plethora of culinary delights that would satiate even the harshest critics. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank just to get a good meal; there are plenty of affordable restaurants that serve up absolutely delectable delights! Here’s a foodie’s guide to the best of Osaka, Kyoto and Fukuoka – let your gastronomic adventure begin!

Osaka:

An old Japanese proverb describes the occurrence of “kuidaore” in Osaka, which roughly translates to “ruining yourself by extravagance in food”. Indeed, this metropolis is renowned for its interest in dining, and people here are thought to spend more on food than anything else. Thankfully, these restaurants won’t leave your pockets (or stomach) empty, and you’ll still be able to enjoy some truly exquisite meals.

Tokisushi

Image credit: Tokisushi

One of the most quintessential meals to have in Japan is none other than sushi! Naturally, sushi-diners are aplenty, and it’s not difficult to to suss out some amazing dishes. However, if you’re looking for something exceptional without splurging, there’s no better place than Tokisushi. This unassuming restaurant certainly packs a punch – aside from typical sushi sets, they also serve aburi (torched and seared) platters that are jam-packed with flavour. Even with their use of fresh, high-quality ingredients, Tokisushi maintains reasonable prices across the board, with prices as low as 1050 yen (~SGD13) for 12 pieces of sushi. What a steal!

Opening Hours: 11am to 2pm (lunch), 5pm to 10pm (dinner) – opens daily, except Monday
Address: 4-2 1 Nanbasennichimae, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0075, Japan

Dotonbori Konamon Museum

Did you know that Osaka is the birthplace of Takoyaki? This octopus-filled snack is one of the most iconic snacks in the country, and its humble origins start here! Head to the Dotonbori Konamon Museum to learn more about konamon (flour-based foods), and watch Takoyaki masters work their magic before your very eyes. This bite-sized delicacy is not only a great snack for when you’re on the move, but can also be enjoyed with luxurious champagne and wine in the Museum’s basement bistro.

Opening Hours:
(shop) 11am to 10pm (daily)
(sample making) 11.30am to 7.15pm (Monday – Friday); 10.30am to 7.15pm (Saturday – Sunday, National Holidays)
Address: Chuwa Daiichi Bldg., 1-6-12 Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka

Zuboraya Dotonbori

Image credit: Gurunavi

For all you adventurous foodies out there, you have to try fugu, or poisonous pufferfish. Due to its lethal toxins, chefs have to exercise extreme caution when preparing this dish – rest assured that these skilled Japanese professionals will do a thorough job of removing the poison. Due to such high levels of preparation, this gourmet food tends to be slightly more expensive.

Still, Zuboraya Dotonbori keeps their prices affordable while preserving high standards of safety and quality. Their fugu set meals consists of the fish served multiple ways; sashimi, fried, grilled, in a hot-pot and lastly, made into a thick porridge. You’ll get to try them all! To enjoy the best value, go for their lunch menu at 2,000 yen (~SGD25), instead of the more expensive dinner at 5,000 yen (~SGD50).

Opening Hours: 11am to 11pm (daily)
Address: 1 Chome-6-10 Dotonbori, Chuo, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0071, Japan

Where to stay in Osaka:

Image credit: HomeAway

While you’re here in Osaka for your foodie adventure, make Momodani your home away from home. This new apartment consists of two storeys, four spacious bedrooms, and can accommodate up to a maximum of 15 people. Having recently been refurbished, Momodani boasts an eclectic style and a vibrant atmosphere. It’s great for groups of friends who just want to hang out and enjoy each other’s company. Furthermore, take advantage of its strategic location (a short seven minute walk from the nearby Momodani JR station) and make your way to your favourite food places with no trouble at all. From just S$15 per person per night, it’s an absolute steal.

Image credit: HomeAway

If you’re looking for something more minimalist-chic, look no further than at Nishinari Ward, a three-storey house that can also accommodate up to 15 people. Enjoy the amalgamation of style, comfort and convenience in this stylish place. Soak your troubles away in your very own hot-tub, and be refreshed after a good night’s rest. The house is a short walk away from the Kishinosato Tamade railway station and the Tamade subway station, so you can make your way anywhere in no time at all. From just S$15 per person per night, it’s the perfect choice!

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Kyoto:

Not many people may know this, but Kyoto’s successful food scene can largely be attributed to its water. The city leverages on its natural springs as a pivotal avenue of water, and this pristine source is used for cooking and the preparation of food. In particular, the purities of this spring water contribute to the enhanced flavours quality of tofu, soba and sake. Here are some places you have to check out!

Matsuba

Image credit: Kykk wiki

Established in 1861, Matsuba has long cemented its position as one of the best soba restaurants in Kyoto. Both tourists and locals flock here to get their fix of Nishin Soba (buckwheat noodles with herring), a comfort food like no other. The sweetness of the preserved herring complements the light, umami broth, and the al-dente noodles add the right amount of texture to the dish. Oishi! At 1,300 yen (~SGD16) a bowl, you’ll be treated with a generous serving and certainly get your money’s worth. Be sure not to miss out on this refreshing noodle dish!

Opening Hours: 11am to 9.30pm (daily, except Wednesday)
Address: 192 Kawabatacho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0076, Kyoto Prefecture (Gion)

Togaden

Image credit: Inside Kyoto

In addition, you definitely have to get a taste of Kyoto’s famous tofu! Most restaurants serve their tofu dishes at premium prices of up to SGD50, so it may be hard to find one that doesn’t burst your budget. Thankfully, Togaden offers more inexpensive options, such as their Fresh Yuba Don (fresh tofu-skin with rice) at 1,200 yen (~SGD15) and Yuba Tempura Meal (fried-tofu skin set meal) at 1,550 yen (~SGD19). The chef’s expert preparation of dishes made from derivatives like tofu skin, coagulated tofu and soy milk guarantee that you’ll leave with a newfound love for all things tofu.

Opening Hours: 11am to 8.30pm (daily)
Address: 87 Nakajimacho, Sanjo Kawaramachi-dori Higashi-iru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8004

Mister Gyoza

Image credit: Kenny Yokota

When in Kyoto, it’s inevitable that you’ll pay the Toji Temple a visit. After exploring this architectural beauty and learning about Kyoto’s Buddhist history, head to Mister Gyoza (just ten minutes away) for a refreshing snack. Don’t underestimate these little pan-fried dumplings – delight in the crispy crunch of the thin pastry skin, and savour the tender meat filling. You’d be surprised at the explosion of textures and flavours with each bite. Six gyozas go for just 270 yen (~SGD3), and you can even purchase frozen ones to take home.

Opening Hours: 11.30am to 8.30pm (daily except Thursday)
Address: Karahashitakadacho, Minamiku, Kyoto 601-8464, Kyoto Prefecture (Southern Kyoto)  

Where to stay in Kyoto:

Image credit: HomeAway

For a cozy yet cultural experience, why not stay at this traditional Kyoto townhouse? It’s located near to the famous Toji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has been entirely redesigned to infuse both traditional and modern elements. There’s a beautiful wedding kimono at the entrance to greet you, and even a samurai figure in the living room! How unique is that?

You’ll find a Western bedroom with a double bed, and a loft bedroom with two single mattress beds. It also boasts an open-concept bathroom, where you can stare out into the courtyard garden with Momiji (maple) trees for a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. The entire townhouse is fully equipped with modern amenities, and is very conveniently located near the Kyoto JR station for easy access to all sightseeing sites around Kyoto! From just S$42.50 per person per night, this quaint traditional stay is just perfect for a group of 5-6 people!

Image credit: HomeAway

Alternatively, if you like bright, open spaces, this three-bedroom traditional townhouse in Gion is perfect for you. Boasting two Japanese-style rooms and one Western-style room, it can accommodate up to 10 people. It also has a very central location in the heart of Kyoto-Gion, Kyoto’s most famous geisha district. Plus, the subway is just a mere 5 minutes away, so getting anywhere around Kyoto is a breeze. If you need any daily necessities or snacks, you’ll be delighted to know that it is close to a Lawson 100 store where most goods cost only 100 yen. The famous Nishiki Market is a short 15-minute walk away, while the main restaurant strip is 10 minutes away, and Kiyomizudera is 20 minutes away. Don’t miss out on a visit to the famous Kamogawa as well, which is just two blocks away! From just S$30 per person per night, this traditional townhouse is an absolute gem!

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Fukuoka:

Last but certainly not least, your foodie adventure has to take you to Fukuoka, one of the great gourmand cities in Japan. As the largest city on Kyushu Island, Fukuoka also serves as a food transport hub and continues to remain a key destination for top-notch cuisine. If you are willing to splurge, the Mitzutaki (chicken stew) has to be high on your ‘to-eat’ list.

Ichiran Main Store

Image credit: (left) Ichiran, (right) Fukuoka

Of course, we cannot miss out on the all-important ramen! This noodle soup dish can be considered a staple in Japanese cuisine, and people in Fukuoka take it very seriously. In fact, the cult favourite ramen chain Ichiran first originated here before spreading to the rest of the country! Make your way to the Ichiran Main Store and be seated at either the restaurant area on the first floor, or enjoy a private dining experience at the individual booths upstairs.

Regardless of where you are, be prepared to be blown away by their one dish; Tonkotsu Ramen (ramen in pork bone broth). Imagine perfectly cooked noodles and succulent chashu pork in a hearty, deep broth. Absolutely phenomenal! Furthermore, you get the option of customizing your bowl – choose the consistency of your noodles, thickness of your broth, and indicate the condiments you want. The result? A unique, hearty bowl of noodles catered specifically towards your tastes. Prices start at just 910 yen (~SGD11) per bowl, and increase depending on your selection of additional toppings.

Opening Hours: 24 hours daily
Address: 5-3-2 Nakasu Hakata-ku Fukuoka-shi Fukuoka-ken

Ganso Hakata Mentaiju

Image credit: Mentaiju

If you have not hopped onto the mentaiko (spicy salted fish roe) craze, there’s no better place to start than in Fukuoka. This flavourful condiment is considered to be the pride and joy of the city, and is often added to enhance the flavour of Japanese cuisine. On the other hand, at restaurants like Ganso Hakata Mentaiju, mentaiko takes centrestage and dishes are invented to complement its distinct flavour. The mentaiju features mentaiko wrapped in a piece of kombu (type of kelp), which is placed elegantly over nori seaweed and white rice. These delicate flavours provide the ideal balance to the salty mentaiko, and the dish is elevated to be more than just the sum of its parts. At 1,680 yen (~SGD20) per bowl, you’re definitely getting a bargain deal.

Opening Hours: 7am to 10.30pm (daily)
Address: 6-15 Nishinakasu, Chuo, Fukuoka, Fukuoka Prefecture 810-0002, Japan

Kasanoya

Image credit: Kasanoya

All you dessert lovers out there, this one’s for you! Ditch the new-age cafes and go back to basics with traditional Japanese sweets – after all, old is gold. To start, Kasanoya is a quaint boutique that specializes in umegae mochi (rice cake filled with red beans). As your teeth sink in the soft mochi, you’ll start to taste the subtle sweetness of the generous red bean filling. This hot snack pairs perfectly with a cup of green tea, and the fresh flavours act as a great palate cleanser. Each delicious mochi is priced at only 120 yen (~SGD1.50), but be careful not to get carried away!  

Opening Hours: 10am to 6pm (daily)
Address: 2-7-24 Saifu, Dazaifu 818-0117, Fukuoka Prefecture

Where to stay in Fukuoka:

Image credit: HomeAway

Spend the night in a comfortable two-bedroom apartment along Hakata Street, and appreciate the true essence of minimalist living. This residence, while encompassing basic amenities like a kitchen and laundry machines, is largely a blank canvas – so it’s up to you to add your individualistic touch and make it feel like home! The kind hosts have left multiple travel books for you to peruse, and you can also easily get in touch with them to ask for recommendations about your time here in Fukuoka. From just S$13 per person per night, there’s no reason to resist!

Image credit: HomeAway

This cosy apartment is perfect for small groups or families! You can choose to sleep on the double bed, the sofa bed, or the futon, as the apartment accommodates 4 people comfortably. There are FREE bicycle rentals (reservation required), a 24-hour supermarket called SUNNY that’s just 5 minutes away, as well as Family Mart and 7-Eleven just round the corner, so you can easily grab any drinks, snacks, or daily necessities anytime you like. The subway station, Watanabedori, is also just a short 7-minute walk away. From just S$21 per person per night, it’s the ideal choice for budget travellers, without having to compromise on comfort or cleanliness!

BOOK YOUR STAY WITH HOMEAWAY NOW!

Indeed, there’s so much to do, see and eat in Japan. With such a huge selection of sumptuous cuisine, it’s a blessing that there are many restaurants and diners that offer affordable options – or your waistline won’t be the only thing that’s bursting! While embarking on your foodie adventure, stay in HomeAway’s many vacation rentals – from traditional Japanese homes to modern apartments – and immerse yourself in a completely Japanese experience. Not only do you get to eat like a local, but you also get to live like a local; it doesn’t get any more authentic than this. 


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About Author

Lydia Lee
Lydia Lee

A linguistics student, Lydia suffers from the occupational hazard of thinking too much about the quirks of language. She yearns to see more of the world and its people, and cannot wait for her next adventure to soak in more beautiful sights and sounds. Before she can do that again, her perfect day would include taking a slow walk, having a warm cup of coffee, and being immersed in a good book.

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