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Japan has the highest number of Michelin star restaurants, with 317 across the country, beating France, long regarded as the home of fine cuisine. Osaka is blessed with 88 one-star, 15 two-star and 5 three-star Michelin restaurants, which makes it the fifth most Michelin-restaurant populated city in the world. The bustling city is Japan’s third largest and is known as “Japan’s Kitchen”. You’re really spoiled for dining choices when visiting Osaka.
Let’s start with the three-star restaurants; Fujiya 1935 and Koryu were promoted in 2012. Fujiya 1935 is also ranked number one on Tripadvisor, so scientifically that has to be the best right? Well, by all accounts it is definitely a contender, however, it is worth noting that Fujiya has lost a star in the 2013 ratings. Fujiya is a small, intimate restaurant that was established in 1935 (hence the name). It only has a handful of tables, Fujiya is a Spanish-Asian fusion restaurant that serves technical masterpieces and all for a reasonable 13,500¥ (£100).
Fujiya 1935 (トリップアドバイザー提供)
A warm welcome awaits at Koryu, where the chef is happy to give you an interactive experience and explains each dish if you sit at the open kitchen bar. Dishes include chilled yuzu and baby eel sorbet for the adventurous and sublime miyazaki beef. Booking at the 3 star Hajime restaurant can be a bit hit and miss and can only be taken over the phone (gird your loins for the long distance phone call charges). If you have the patience it will be worth it however. The 8 course tasting menu comes highly recommended.
北新地 弧柳 (トリップアドバイザー提供)
Taian is a hidden 3 star gem, although you will need to trust your chef as the staff isn’t multi-lingual. Most dishes will be a mystery, but for the bold diner, this will be an exciting adventure. Kashiwaya is a Ryōtei restaurant that serves modern Japanese food and is located at the Relais & Châteaux hotel. With dishes like puffer roe boiled in sake in turnip soup, you can be guaranteed an authentic meal in a traditional setting.
Kahala is buried amongst an entire strip of restaurants, but this two-star restaurant is often cited as one of the best in Osaka, beating its three-star rivals. It is a Kappo restaurant, where the master chefs have around 15 years experience of cutting, boiling and seasoning fish rather than cutting for sushi. Kahala is expensive at 30,000¥ (£225) per person, but this cult restaurant is where food meets art. You can enjoy a potato paper-chain, carved from a single potato, as well as their speciality, 5 barely seared layers of Iga beef. Delectable!
For tempura, head to the two-star Yotara Honten which was established in 1921. The fourth generation chef creates tempura from onion (Negi) and Osaka shrimp (Shirasa Ebi). The house specialty is Taimeshi, a sea bream rice dish. The tempura, taimeshi and soup will set you back just 4,000¥ (£30). Gyuho is a two-star Kaiseki restaurant found in the Kitashinchi area of Osaka and is a must for meat lovers. Exotic dishes include sashimi heart, tongue and liver. Or the stew-like shabu-shabu – meaning swish-swish for the sound of the meat cooking in the pot. For a full-on meat feast here, expect to pay 25,000-30,000¥ (£190-225).
The one-star La Baie French restaurant has a coveted 5 ‘couvert’ spoon and fork symbols for decor, comfort and service. You’d expect such a level at a Ritz-Carlton restaurant though. The traditional European decor is all wood panelling, chandeliers and fine art. The twist here is that the modern French cuisine is created with local Japanese ingredients. Definitely worth a try.
To see the latest results for the 2013 Michelin Guide, click here.
If any of these restaurants are enticing enough to bring you to the bustling city of Osaka, then be sure to book a room at the five star Swissotel Nankai Osaka, situated in the heart of Namba.
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It’s said Osaka is a city of “Kuidaore” that means people there are particular about foods. I also hear that a restaurant that serves so-so dishes may survive in Tokyo but never do in Osaka. Yet, I think there are also many restaurants in Tokyo that are highly rated in Michelin Guide. ^ ^
Ryotei or Kappou are the type of restaurants that are often used for client dinner and so it’s paid by company, and it’s not for ordinary people to just go eat a dinner easily. ^ ^;; (To me, I can’t afford 20,000 or 30,000yen or even 10,000yen for a meal per person! haha!!)