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There's a saying among Japanese that whereas a Kyotoite will spend his last yen on a fine kimono, an Osakan will spend it on food. You don't have to spend a lot of money, however, to enjoy good food in Osaka. Local specialties include Oshi-zushi (pressed square-shaped sushi), udon noodles with white soy sauce, and takoyaki (wheat-flour dumplings with octopus).

Osaka is probably best known, however, for okonomiyaki, which literally means "as you like it." Its origins date from about 1700, when a type of thin flour pancake cooked on a hot plate and filled with miso paste was served during Buddhist ceremonies. It wasn't until the 20th century that it became popular, primarily during food shortages, and gradually, other ingredients such as pork, egg, and cabbage were added. Today, Osaka is riddled with inexpensive okonomiyaki restaurants -- more than 4,000 of them.

Around Osaka Station

Two good restaurants, Bar Tachibana and Namaste, listed in the Namba, have branches near Osaka Station.

Osaka Bay Area -- Universal CityWalk has lots of restaurants, most of which are open daily from 11am to 9 or 10pm, including Bubba Gump's (tel. 06/4804-3880) for shrimp; Hard Rock Cafe (tel. 06/4804-3870) with its T-shirts for sale and a menu of burgers, steaks, sandwiches, and barbecued ribs; the inexpensive, conveyor-belt Daisuki Sushi (tel. 06/6467-1122), which serves two pieces of sushi for ¥105 to ¥210; and a branch of Fugetsu serving okonomiyaki.

Namba

Dotombori (or Dotonbori), a narrow pedestrian lane just off Midosuji Dori that flanks the south bank of the Dotombori River Walk, is the center of Osaka's most famous nightlife district, which radiates from Dotombori on both sides of the canal; you'll find lots of restaurants and bars in this area.

Inexpensive -- A healthy choice in Namba Station (just outside the south exit near Namba Park) is Japanese Organic Café (tel. 06/6644-2782), serving inexpensive soups, brown rice balls, curry, and organically grown coffee, with main dishes priced below ¥780. It's open Monday to Friday 8am to 9:30pm and Saturday and Sunday 9am to 9:30pm.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.