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<Trip to Osaka> Finding Osaka soul food @ Hanshin Snack Park

Updated: Apr 9, 2023

"KUIDAORE" = Eat until you drop, is a way of life for Osaka citizens. Visit Hanshin Snack Park at OSAKA/UMEDA to try this philosophy for yourself.

Keeping its STANDING ONLY policy, Osaka's most popular food market at the corner of a department store collects all good local foods and serves them at low prices. Dozens of food stalls are gathered on a small floor, which makes you want to try them all. But that's not realistic, so let's select the must-have dishes.

The one you can never miss is IKA-YAKI squid pancakes, the signature takeaway dish in which shredded squid is baked with eggs and flour. The recipe looks so simple, but there must be some secret ingredients in it because No other chef can imitate the flavour. This is why Osaka people always queue day and night to get a $1.50 small pancake.

"Konamon" or baked dishes based on flour, are fundamental to Osaka cuisine. Ika-yaki is one of them, and the most popular type is 'Tako-yaki'. You can eat Tako-yaki here of course, but what I recommend you try is CHOBO-YAKI.

Chobo-yaki is, like other Konamon varieties, baked on a steel pan. What's different about the pan is it has small dips neatly lined up, which is specially designed for this dish. These dips are called CHOBO in Osaka. Chobo-yaki is believed to be the origin of now famous Tako-yaki, the dips became larger and larger throughout the years, finally evolving to holes large enough to create Tako-yaki balls.

Chobo-yaki has a simple, basic Konamon taste. Konyac yam paste and green onions are diced and mixed in flour. By adding brown sauce or Mayonnaise, you can feel the history of Osaka's soul foods. The yam paste must've been substituted by octopus (tako) in later days by keeping its munchiness and enhancing its flavour.

Other stalls lure you with their flavours of Sushi or Udon etc. Reminding yourself of your stomach capacity, leave the hall and go downstairs. You can find a small kiosk serving a variety of fruit juice flavours. While thinking about which flavour to choose, you notice that All customers are ordering MIX JUICE.

This is the stand which has been selling Osaka's famous Mix Juice for 50 years. Drink up a cold one and find flavours of orange, peach and banana. Now you are entitled to call yourself a master of Osaka foodies.

Cash Only. Photos on the Menu.

<Original in NOV 2021 ©Larry_Tak>

At Hanshin Snack Park, you can try not only Konamon pancakes but also Yakisoba or Ramen noodles. All made of flour, anyway.

YAKISOBA is another Osakan soul food. Same as Okonomi-yaki pancakes, Yakisoba noodles are stir fried on a large steel plate with vegetables & pork meat, oozy soy sauce poured, then mixed until they are browned.

Its dry taste definitely goes well with a pitcher of beer to quench your thirst.

While the shops in the food court have frequently changed during its long history, UMAKA RAMEN has always been in the centre. They have always served ramen at the lowest price. I remember grasping some 100 yen coins to get a bowl when I was a school boy.

Even now, Shoyu ramen is only $3, so a large portion is very affordable. You can make it a one coin (500 yen) set meal by adding a small bowl of tasty rice. The ramen is not necessarily gorgeous, but tasty enough. They stick to the basics, which brings out the same taste for over thirty years.

After the pandemic, Osakans are starting to leave their homes. They stop by at the Hanshin Snack Park, select their favourite meals, stand and eat, then go to their destinations. Normal life is coming back.

<Added in APRIL 2023 ©Larry_Tak>


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