Chef Takashi Inoue recently spent three weeks in his hometown, Osaka. “I don’t have the opportunity to travel back very often, but when I do, there is always lots of eating involved,” says the chef of New York’s Takashi, a yakiniku (Japanese-Korean barbecue) restaurant, focusing on raw and grilled beef. His grandmother started a yakiniku restaurant over 30 years ago in Osaka. “Now when I go back my family eats a lot at home. Nevertheless, I still like going out to see what’s new in the Osaka dining scene, and visit some of the regular places I would eat before moving to New York five years ago.” Here, he shares his favorite spots.
“This is my favorite yakiniku restaurant in the Ikuno-Ku neighborhood of Osaka. It’s very low-key and a bit of a secret—a small restaurant owned and operated by a mother and son. Every table has a bucket filled with lit coals, and a grill on top, where every diner can cook the raw meat dishes that the mother brings to the table. The menu has a focus on offal cuts, and I highly recommend their tan-shio (tongue), harami (outside skirt), and mino sand (first stomach). In addition to the amazing food, the mother and son love to bicker, so it makes for a very entertaining meal. The restaurant doesn’t have a phone, so I encourage people to walk in (it’s right next to Omoni).” 3-3-1, Momodani, Ikuno-Ku, Osaka
“Located in the bustling Nihonbashi neighborhood, which is home to the largest food market in Osaka, Rokkakutei specializes in kushiage—skewers with seasonal fillings that are lightly fried and served at the counter. There is only one menu here, the omakase, or chef’s selection. Diners have to take their time here, because the each skewer is so delicate and creative. I chronicled a recent meal there on my blog, where you can see each skewer (image above). You might think it overwhelming—but the food isn’t heavy at all. They have a great wine and sake selection, too.” 1-21-16, Nihonbashi, 2nd floor, Chuo-Ku, Osaka, 82/(6) 6633-1302
“‘Omoni’ means mother in Korean, and like me, the owners are Japanese of Korean descent so I always feel at home when I dine here. This okonomiyaki (savory grilled pancake) restaurant in Ikuno-Ku is tucked into the first floor of the owner’s house. Their whole menu is on the wall. My favorite dishes are the omoni-yaki (the house pancake, grilled) and their healthy yakisoba, which is also grilled on the grill plates where diners can watch their food being cooked.” 3-3-2, Momodani, Ikuno-Ku, Osaka, 81/(6) 6717-0094
“Sakuichi is a traditional Osaka-style kappo, which is fine cuisine served in the kitchen of a small restaurant. I go here with my family for special occasions. The restaurant’s menu is hand-written and two feet long! People dine here a la carte, and there’s quite a bit to choose from. Everything is very seasonally focused and has such beautiful presentation. It makes for a very memorable dining experience.” 1-1-3, Nishi-Shinsaibashi, ground floor, Chuo-Ku, Osaka, 81/(6) 6243-4391
Headshot by Shannon Sturgis.