When a town’s being is inextricably connected to the maxim, “To consume oneself into break” (kuidaore), it’s an inevitable end that the city is extreme approximately its meals. Such is the case of Osaka, Japan’s 2nd-biggest city and gateway to the Kansai place.
Osaka’s disposition for all things culinary stems from a region that has furnished get admission to to amazing components, its mercantile history, and being close to the sea and waterway trade, defined Aiko Tanaka, professor of meals studies at Osaka Shoin Women’s University and writer of “Food Studies of Osaka: From Paddy Field to Our Chopsticks.”
“The mountains surrounding Osaka are the source of high-grade soft water, that’s best at extracting the umami and taste components from kombu (kelp) to make dashi,” she said, describing the Kansai region’s desire for making Japan’s versatile and subtly flavored sea stock. The kind of kelp desired in Kansai is ma kombu, harvested in southern Hokkaido, which turned into historically shipped to the region via kitamaebune cargo ships following the Edo Period (1603-1868).
An abundance of local greens such as Naniwa varietals (Naniwa being an olden name for Osaka), in addition to clean, get admission to to clean and bountiful seafood from the Seto Inland Sea, additionally played a part within the prefecture developing its wealthy meals way of life in keeping with Tanaka.
The metropolis’s mercantile beyond became no much less important, she cited, because it formed a giant position in Osaka turning into what might be defined as the epicurean epicenter of Japan. Trade noticed Osaka end up a storehouse for rice and the town earned the moniker of the state’s kitchen — tenka no daidokoro. Merchants could take their customers out to restaurants for each entertainment and enterprise functions instead of dining at domestic.
“Osaka becomes detailed as a ‘special economic zone’ within the Edo Period,” Tanaka stated. “Located away from the central government and overt spiritual and political stress, the city gave beginning to famous civilian food inside the wide experience, with Osaka cuisine created and perfected via the ‘humans’ of Osaka themselves.”
The role of soy in nearby cuisine
Because the Kansai area has traditionally desired a lighter style of dashi than that of areas in Japanese Japan, there’s also a desire for a mild-colored soy sauce, usukuchi shōyu. A precursor to soy sauce, tamari — stated to be a liquid byproduct of miso production and derived most effective from soybeans without wheat brought — became first produced in Yuasa, Wakayama Prefecture, around the sixteenth century.
Usukuchi shōyu’s roots also can be traced to Kansai, specifically Tatsuno in Hyogo Prefecture around 1660. The lighter colored soy sauce functions a higher salt content material than everyday soy sauce (koikuchi shōyu) that is extra usually used in Tokyo and the Kanto region.
Because usukuchi soy sauce is stated to impart a delicate taste to dishes, and its lighter shade does now not intrude with different components, it turned into predominately utilized in Kansai’s shōjin ryōri (traditional vegetarian Buddhist delicacies) and kaiseki ryōri, a conventional multicourse meal first of all based on food served earlier than a tea rite.
While usukuchi shōyu has because ended up a not unusual element utilized in cooking, it isn’t always limited to food in Kansai delicacies, in keeping with a spokesperson from talented soy sauce producer Kikkoman, that’s primarily based in Chiba however keeps a manufacturing facility in the Kansai place.
Instead, most Kansai households generally tend to apply distinct soy sauces relying on the dish. Usukuchi soy sauce is said to decorate the green color and taste of greens, clean produce, and dishes including udon noodles and dashimaki tamago (rolled omelet cooked with dashi), even, as usual, darker soy sauce pairs well with the Kansai place’s well-known Kobe red meat, the spokesperson delivered.
Popular dishes and locales
Today, a growing inflow of foreign places traffic to Osaka is becoming acquainted with famous nearby dishes inclusive of okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancakes), takoyaki (octopus dumplings) and udon (thick, white wheat noodles). Such flour-based dishes are called Konami, said Tanaka, a sort of B-kyū gurume (low cost, pleasant meals) originally served as short, smooth and hearty meals to a burgeoning populace of shitamachi (downtown) employees in Shinsekai and comparable regions.
Other soul food-esque dishes, which includes kushikatsu (deep-fried skewered meat and greens), dorayaki (red meat sinew stewed the usage of miso, candy sake, and sugar) have similar origins. Shinsekai remains the most exact spot to bask in a few kushikatsu these days, with masses of the suburb’s cheaper restaurants round Tsutenkaku Tower serving up the local forte.
The energetic Dotonbori vicinity and nearby Ura-Namba in Osaka’s southern Minami district are domestic to a heavy concentration of casual okonomiyaki and takoyaki eating places. Ura-Namba is fast developing recognition as a hotspot for its bars, bistros and other eateries, the area springing to existence in the evening. Cooking utensils and knives are bought at Doguyasuji nearby.
Those curious about expert cooking knives are endorsed to visit Osaka prefecture’s southern port city of Sakai. Boasting a roughly six hundred-12 months-antique history as a renowned manufacturer of excellent metalware, the metropolis is one of the five main knife-generating centers in Japan.
Other areas in crucial Osaka recognized for their dining options consist of Tenma, with its warren of alleyways and street the first eating places, and glitzy Kitashinchi. The latter isn’t a ways from Umeda and has been described as “the Ginza of Osaka” for its awareness of pinnacle-tier and Michelin-starred restaurants.
Many of these include of a more exceptional intimate shape of kaiseki eating, the counter-fashion kapo ryōri, which is said to have originated in Osaka throughout the Nineteen Twenties. Diners watch the itamae (chef) prepare and prepare dinner their meals, possibly discussing the seasonality of the substances used, cooking techniques and patron preferences.