Food: Ikazaya Food in Osaka


On the very first day of my trip in Japan, I didn’t know what to expect from my trip. My friend Adam and I just took our five hour flight from Beijing to Osaka. We exchanged some RMB to Japanese Yen and fumbled around with the Osaka subway system. Let’s just say it took more than a few seconds to figure out how to get from point A to point B.

I was staying with my friend Jason, who was teaching English in Japan, and Adam was going to stay in a guesthouse. I don’t remember the circumstances of why we chose to go separately in Osaka and throughout most of Japan. I think mostly because I wanted to see Nara and Himeji. He wanted to stay in Osaka.

Finding the guesthouse, where we arranged for Jason to pick me up, was a bit of a daunting task. We didn’t know exactly where to go since the streets from the subway stop were very small. After walking for several blocks, we were both a little tired and frustrated. We decided to head for what looked like a main street. At this point we started smelling some grilled food and heard some people talking. It was coming from a pub and we both knew we were hungry. After making it to the main street, finding the guesthouse took only a few more minutes. Unlike the fate Adam’s stomach, which was relegated to the food of the Lawson corner store, Jason took me to have some quick bar food. (The corner store food of Lawson, 7-11 is actually quite decent in Japan. It can’t compare to something hot and fresh though)

Taking the subway stop to Kyobashi, we exited and the allies were a hub of small store fronts and dining establishments. I saw some takoyaki vendors and ramen stalls that would have been great for my hunger. But Jason kept going and we entered a small pub that was packed with people.

I am no expert on anything Ikazaya but I do know that it is a traditional Japanese pub. The experience is a bit different from a regular bar experience you would think of when you are in the US. Everyone is sitting at a table or by the counter and you are eating as well drinking. I didn’t partake much in the latter since I have a low alcohol tolerance. Jason had some sake and ordered some food for us.

Cheese Croquette
A very Dutch potato and cheese croquette. I remember it having some pieces of corn inside as well. The cheese melted freely from the center and the potatoes were as soft as it could be. It was a good dish to start with .

Beef Skewers
I saw the proprietor put the raw skewers over the red-hot coals of the grill. I knew it was going to be good from the good cuts of meat of the skewers. The taste was like a yakitori and the tenderness was just as predicted. It could be that it is called beef yakitori and I just don’t remember because I was too busy eating mine.

Katsu
A breaded pork cutlet fried with some potato sauce on top. I usually have my katsu sauce with my katsu but this was also a good change. It was exactly what I expect my katsu to be. It had a light breading and a meaty center.

Chicken Yakitori
This is where the meal actually started with a bowl of yakitori rice. Everything tastes better when you are hungry. Especially when it’s warm pillowy rice with some good grilled chicken, seaweed, and pickled daikon.

Cheese Meatballs
I love cheese and this was good way to follow my rice bowl. It’s another dish on a skewer but just as good as the beef skewers.

Cream-filled Strawberrries
We ended our meal with some cream-filled frozen strawberries. The cream was more like a sauce. Almost bordering on ice cream but with a much thicker, richer consistency.

Although, what I had wasn’t a full ikazaya experience (with no alchohol and all). But if the food is any indication, I’m sure it would have been a swell time. The patrons of the pub we stopped by were laughing, smiling, and seemed perfectly happy during the fall evening I joined them for the briefest of moments.

Parting Words

My knowledge of ikazaya food is fairly limited to what I encountered here in Osaka, but I definitely would like to know more. Going to an ikazaya would seem like a great option for a night out in Japan. You have food, drinks, and great company. No wonder it is so easy to fall in love with the Japanese lifestyle.

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About the Author

John is always trying to find his way back to the road. He has an affinity for Germany due to his three years studying German at Cal, and a year working as an intern in the Stuttgart area. He also likes chocolate cake and good cheese.