Anthony Bourdain in Osaka: 9 Spots Where Tony Ate

Despite the incredible foods you can find in places like Tokyo, Kyoto, Sapporo, or Okinawa, it’s the Japanese city of Osaka which is sometimes called “the Nation’s Kitchen.” Located some 250 miles from Tokyo, Osaka can feel worlds away depending on which aspects of the city’s culture you choose to sample. In the case of Anthony Bourdain, that’s food – of course – and – perhaps surprisingly – sports.

Anthony Bourdain visited Osaka to film his “Asia Special” in 2005, which was released as episode 1 of season 2 of No Reservations; it was his only on-screen visit to this Japanese city, though he visited several other cities and regions during his many travels in the country – ranging from season 1 of A Cook’s Tour to season 8 of Parts Unknown.

Anthony Bourdain in Osaka Hero

As Tony discovers, Osaka embraces a particular philosophy about food, called Kuidaore (食い倒れ). The term roughly translates as the act of ruining oneself through extravagant spending on food or, in a more modern and perhaps more financially responsible way, to “eat until you drop.” If that sounds like a great time to you, read on to discover the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Osaka, and what he ate.

This post was originally written in January 2023 and was updated most recently in January 2024.

Where Anthony Bourdain Ate in Osaka

While I don’t create a map for every destination Tony visited, there are some cities where having one will help you get oriented to plan your own food adventures. Osaka is one such place – like San Sebastian, Spain, Tony visited several places in a very close geographic area, and you can easily plan your own Bourdain-inspired food walking tour.

Anthony Bourdain in Osaka Map
Click to interact with the map.

Now let’s get into the details of each one and what Tony ate there.

Gosakudon Tennoji-koenmae

Anthony Bourdain’s first stop in Osaka combines both food and sport; he joins fans of the city’s local team – the Osaka Tigers – at Gosakudon Tennoji-koenmae, a local watering hole famous for its fans and their support during away games.

Instead of burgers and hot dogs, Tony and his local guides enjoy sushi and beer while watching the Tigers play their rivals – Tokyo’s Yomiuri Giants. Thanks to a team win, the beer is even discounted!

Pizza Ball House (CLOSED)

Anthony Bourdain in Osaka - Takoyaki

Next, Tony heads out to sample some of the other unique foods you can find in a city known for its love of interesting and unusual dishes. With his local guides, he visits “Pizza Ball House,” also called Takonotetsu.

Here, he’s able to try the dish for which the restaurant is named: Takoyaki. This ball-shaped Japanese snack is made of a wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a specially molded pan. It is typically filled with minced or diced octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger, and green onion. Definitely not like the pizza you’ll find on a New York City street corner!

Unfortunately, Pizza Ball House has closed its doors for good as of January 2024.

Jiyuken

Continuing his night of indulgence, Bourdain then continues on to Jiyuken; this restaurant’s signature dish is curried rice, which is – as the name suggests – curry and rice, with a raw egg cracked on top of the bowl. While this might sound scarier than raw fish and other wild Japanese dishes, Tony observes how egg processing in Japan is different from the U.S., making it safer to eat raw eggs like this.

Kushikatsu Daruma

Next up, more food! Tony samples another combination of interesting ingredients at Kushikatsu Daruma. Here the fare is fried: he tries a number of foods batter-dipped and fried, including beef, shrimp, tomato, and egg with sauce. Unsurprisingly the best drink pairing for these greasy foods is much the same as back across the Pacific: beer.

Kani Doraku

Anthony Bourdain in Osaka - Crab Legs

As he hasn’t dropped yet, Bourdain continues to eat and embrace the Kuidaore philosophy, stopping at Kani Doraku to sample some of their signature grilled crab legs at the street kiosk in front of the restaurant. Starting to feel quite full, Tony comments on how this approach to food is both delicious and perhaps a bit dangerous for one’s overall health.

Fukutaro (福太郎)

Anthony Bourdain in Osaka - Okonomiyaki

For his final stop on an impromptu food tour, Bourdain and his local guides visit Fukutaro (福太郎), an Okonomiyaki restaurant that (might have?) gained a Michelin Bib Gourmand at one point. (It’s no longer in the guide, though Google suggests it had one in the past.)

Here, Tony samples the restaurant’s signature dish again: Okonomiyaki. These Japanese “pancakes” are not the bready food we eat in the U.S.; instead, they’re cabbage pancakes with bacon and mayonnaise.

Honke hormone dojo

After resting and digesting, Bourdain visits a few more restaurants during his trip. First up, he heads to Honke Hormone Dojo; the name refers to the discarded meats that are offered on the menu – exactly the tasty, nasty bits that Tony loves.

Here he enjoys several dishes for those with stronger constitutions and adventurous palates: cow and pig organs: tripe, liver, tongue, kidney, fat, heart, and more; raw liver, ginger, and soy; and cow stomach.

Tiger’s Baseball Game

Drifting back toward the familiar, Anthony Bourdain then attends a Tiger’s home baseball game against the Giants. Sitting in the stadium, he has plenty of beer (essential at a ball game), as well as hot dogs and… edamame? Who needs popcorn – this is Japan, after all.

Koyoshi (CLOSED)

Anthony Bourdain in Osaka - Sushi

With time for one last stop before heading off on his next adventure, Bourdain tucks into an incredible meal of more traditional Japanese food – sushi – at Koyoshi (unfortunately now closed). There he enjoys otoro tuna, anago and hamo eel sushi, unagi, and abalone, all of which look delicious.

As Tony describes it: “[It’s] the kind of place I’m most likely to experience perfect dining happiness: a moment of clarity, calm, peace, and total self-indulgent pleasure.” (Why is it always these awesome places that seem to close?!)

Osaka Food Tours to Try

As Osaka is a foodie city, it’s no surprise that there are some great food tours you can try while visiting. In case you’re not planning to copy’s wild route across the city directly, here are a few organized food tours you can book and have a guide show you the best spots:

Have any other questions about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Osaka? Let me know in the comments!

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Valerie is a travel writer currently based in Cleveland, but her favorite destinations are Alaska, London, and Jordan – only one of which Bourdain ever visited! You can find her writing on Lonely Planet, Forbes, and her travel blog, Valerie & Valise.

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