Even in the same country, the food culture may differ depending on the region. In the Kansai region of Japan, which is where you will find Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo (Kobe), etc., there are some unique foods. These days you can find Kansai foods in other regions of the country, but it is always best to have regional foods in the region they’re from, right? Here are 8 foods we think you should definitely try when you visit the Kansai region!
1. Takoyaki – Osaka
Takoyaki is a soul food that represents Kansai, so many people may know or have eaten it. It is a bite-sized food made by putting octopus and condiments such as ginger, green onion, etc. in a flour dough and baking it. After the takoyaki comes off of the hot iron, it is covered with sauce, mayonnaise, bonito flakes, and aonori which is ground seaweed. At takoyaki shops in the malls you can choose toppings you want like cheese or mentaiko (spicy cod roe). Fresh takoyaki is incredibly hot! If you try to eat one takoyaki in one bite, you will most likely burn your mouth, so be careful!
Children love it, too!
2. Kushi-katsu – Osaka
Kushi-katsu which literally means ‘skewered cutlets’ is skewers of meat and vegetables which are battered and deep fried. You can find it all over Japan, but there are many shops which specialize in this dish around Osaka.
One thing to be aware of when eating kushi-katsu is how to use the sauce. In Osaka it is common for the sauce to be in a container on the table or counter. You dip your skewered food into the sauce and eat it, but you should never double dip as the sauce is used by multiple people. Restaurants in Osaka are known for their “No Double Dipping!” rule! If you want sauce on the entire skewer, dip the whole thing in when you dip. Or, if you want to try it with a different seasoning like salt or a spicy mustard, dip just part in and eat that, then put some other seasoning on the remaining part of your skewered meat or vegetable.
3. Battera（Oshi-sushi）- Osaka
Battera is a pressed sushi made with mackerel. Originally it was made from konoshiro or gizzard shad and looked a lot like a boat on its side. This is where the name battera which means ‘small boat’ in Portuguese, comes from. These days it is made by stacking vinegar pickled mackerel along with layers of finely sliced mackerel and konbu (kelp). In Osaka, it is a dish which families sometimes prepare at home. With its sweet, but slightly sour taste, it can be addictive.
People who don’t like sweet and sour flavors or don’t care for fish like mackerel may not like it, but it is a dish loved by many in the Kansai region.
4. Kobe Beef – Hyogo
Kobe beef is said to have the strictest guidelines in Japan. In 2009, it was named one of the “9 Most Expensive Foods in the World” by the American media, and is famous worldwide.
There is only high quality meat that is not easily available, but on special occasions, try soft and sweet Kobe beef.
5. Soba-meshi – Hyogo
Sobameshi is fried noodles and rice that have been fried in a sauce. It is a local dish that is loved by a wide range of children and adults.
Noodles and rice fried together? At first you may feel that it is odd, but the savory taste of the sauce will surely captivate you and your child.
6. Okonomiyaki – Kyoto
Okonomiyaki is so popular as Kansai’s soul food that it is on par with takoyaki. It is a savory pancake made by combining flour, plenty of cabbage, and other ingredients like pork and/or seafood. Once it is finished cooking, get ready to eat the okonomiyaki, by dressing it with sauce, mayonnaise, bonito and ground seaweed. At some restaurants you can choose toppings like cheese or add other ingredients like mochi or vegetables like asparagus.
It’s fun to share and eat with your family and friends around the hot iron plate! Be careful when going with kids though and make sure they don`t touch the hot griddle on the table.
7. Nishin soba – Kyoto
It is a food with boiled herring on top of warm soba noodles. In the Gion area of Kyoto you can find the shop that created this dish. It has long been loved by Kyoto locals as one of Kyoto’s soul foods.
If you like soba noodles and fish, you should defnitely try this dish! The herring is simmered in a sweet broth so long that the bones have become soft and the fish is easy to eat.
8. Yudofu – Kyoto
Yudofu is a dish of tofu simmered in a kelp broth and eaten with spices and soy sauce. It is simple and warm with a very gentle taste. As it has a gentle taste, you can enjoy it with kids, but one may say it is an elegant dish for adults. If you visit Kyoto in winter, this is a dish we recommend you try to warm yourself up!
As Osaka is said to be the city where you will eat til you drop, it should come as no surprise that Osaka and other parts of the Kansai region have a lot of delicious food. There are many dishes like takoyaki and okonomiyaki that can be enjoyed casually with children, but if you want to enjoy things more suited for adults, such as Kobe beef and yudofu, please use Kyoto with Kids Babysitting and Kyoto with Kids Club to enjoy a delicious time.