Osaka Shinsekai: Cheap Dining and Plenty of Atmosphere

Local Specialties Keep the Belly Full

Osaka became the major trading and business hub of Japan back during the Edo period (1603–1868), and was even given the nickname “The greatest kitchen under heaven.” The city’s affinity for food is well known, a common phrase in the region being, “A Kyotoite will spend his fortune on clothes, while an Osakan will spend his fortune on food.” It’s in this city that we find Shinsekai, an area in the southern part of the city, also famous for its Tsūtenkaku tower.

Shinsekai teems with people looking for cheap, delicious food.

The dish that Shinsekai is most famous for is kushi-katsu, or deep fried skewered morsels. Kushi-katsu are made by skewering meat, fish, or vegetables that is first coated in batter and then deep fried. This is Osaka’s very own fast food, and there are plenty of shops where people can drop in for a quick bite before heading back out to search for their next taste of the city.

The popular Yaekatsu restaurant in Shinsekai always has a long line outside.

Out of all the different kushi-katsu establishments in Shinsekai, one always has a conspicuously long line outside its entrance: Yaekatsu. Still, kushi-katsu joints are known for their quick diner turnover, with most people being able to get in within 30 minutes, so we recommend braving the line and waiting to try their skewers. The counter at Yaekatsu is lined with fresh food, and seeing the staff fry up what you just picked out really gets your mouth watering.

All the food lined up on the counter looks fresh and delicious.

You can watch the staff fry up your order right before your eyes. Free sauce and cabbage awaits customers on every counter and at every table.

Regardless of where you go for kushi-katsu though, the number one rule is, “No double dipping.” You eat kushi-katsu after dipping your skewer into sauce the restaurant provides at every counter and at every table. Since this sauce container is shared by all diners over the course of the evening, though, for hygienic reasons, the restaurant can’t allow people to use sauce that has touched food from someone’s mouth already. The trick to eating kushi-katsu is getting plenty of sauce on the skewer with the initial dip. If you realize halfway through eating a skewer that you did not get quite enough, using the provided cabbage to transfer a bit more from the container to your food is another trick to try.

It’s best to get lots of sauce all over the skewer with that first dip.

Kushi-katsu are best freshly fried, with a crisp, thin layer of batter around the tender ingredients. Each item has a slightly different optimal frying time for the most delicious results.

Another Shinsekai staple alongside kushi-katsu is doteyaki, a dish originating in the Kansai region consisting of beef tendon stewed in mirin (sweet cooking sake) or miso. The mild, slightly sweet flavor of doteyaki goes with its jiggly, chewy texture. This is another treat that well worth the line outside the restaurant.

Kushi-katsu are around ¥100 per skewer and are generally ordered three or more at a time.

Doteyaki are around ¥300 for three skewers.

Yaekatsu also offers take-out kushi-katsu and doteyaki, but you need to order five skewers or more.


  • Address: 3-4-13, Ebisu Higashi, Naniwa, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture
  • Hours: 10:30 am to 9:30 pm
  • Tel.: 06-6643-6332
  • Closed: Thursdays and every third Wednesday 

Restaurants with multi-language menus where you can drink all day

Located close enough to see Tsūtenkaku tower, the Japanese style pub Myōdai Tsurukameya features carvings of its namesakes, the 2-meter-tall statues of a crane (tsuru) and tortoise (kame) adorning the sign above the entrance to the pub. It is known as a place where diners can still get a taste of the Shōwa era (1926–89).

Myōdai Tsurukameya, located right by Tsūtenkaku.

The restaurant offers menus in English, Chinese, and Korean, making it a safe bet for foreign tourists looking for something to eat in Shinsekai. Myōdai Tsurukameya offers Shinsekai favourites like kushi-katsu and doteyaki, as well as a variety of choices including nabe (hot pot), teppan-yaki, salads, and more. As to be expected from Shinsekai, the restaurant is open from 10 in the morning until early morning the next day, and is open 24 hours on Fridays, Saturdays, and days prior to a public holiday. Seating is spacious at this eatery, which comes high on the list of recommendations for places to eat in Shinsekai.

Myōdai Tsurukameya’s famous kushi-katsu, ¥100 and up per skewer.
Doteyaki, its simple flavor accented with grated scallions on top, is ¥280 per serving.


  • Address: 2-5-2 Ebisu Higashi, Naniwa, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture
  • Hours: 10:00 am to 5:00 am Sunday through Thursday; open 24 hours Friday, Saturday, and on days prior to a public holiday
  • Tel.: 06-6630-1515
  • Open: 365 days a year
  • Menus available in: English, Korean, Chinese

Sennariya Coffee: Originator of Mixed Juice

Opened in 1948, Sennariya Coffee’s first owner Tsunekawa Ichirō went on to invent a beverage that is now beloved throughout Japan: mikkusu jūsu, or “mixed juice,” a delicious blend of ice, rich-tasting banana, and the crisp flavors of various other fruits.

Sennariya in Janjan Yokochō Alley

A glass of mixed juice, first introduced by Sennariya’s original owner (¥500).

Being a coffee shop, Sennariya also offers beverages of the bean-based variety. The iced coffee, called “Dutch coffee,” is cold-brewed on the premises, while hot coffee is made either by siphon or the drip process. The shop closed for a time during the summer of 2016, but the popular clamor for it to reopen led to the shop being taken over by one of its former regulars in 2017.

The retro interior is very relaxing.


  • Address: 3-4-15 Ebisu Higashi, Naniwa, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture
  • Hours: 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, Sunday through Thursday and on public holidays; 9:00 am to 11:00 pm, Saturdays and days prior to a public holiday. Last food order is one hour before closing time; last drink order is 30 minutes before closing.
  • Tel.: 06-6645-1303
  • Open: 365 days a year 

Nothing Says Osaka Like Takoyaki

Though the Osaka staple takoyaki can be found all over town, there is one place in particular in Shinsekai that we recommend. Outside the popular takoyaki joint Kankan, visitors will find two things: the shop’s memorable red lanterns and a line of people waiting for the crunchy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside fried octopus balls.

Kankan’s fare is reasonably priced, with a plate of eight takoyaki for just ¥350, which is one reason so many people choose to come here to grab a quick snack.

Kankan has waste bins just outside, making it easy to eat and run.

Fluffy, delicious takoyaki.


  • Address: 3-5-16 Ebisu Higashi, Naniwa, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture
  • Hours: 10:00 am to 7:30 pm
  • Tel.: 06-6636-2915
  • Closed: Monday and Tuesday

Nearby Attractions: Tsūtenkaku and Billiken, Symbols of Shinsekai

Located at the heart of Shinsekai is the Tsūtenkaku tower, featuring an observation deck on its fifth floor, at 87.5 meters up, that affords a great view of Osaka. The golden statue of Billiken is a popular spot for photos, and the Tsūtenkaku staff will be happy to take one if you need someone to take your picture.

Tsūtenkaku rising up from Shinsekai.

The view from Tsūtenkaku’s observation offers a great view of Abeno Harukas, the tallest building in Japan (and third-tallest structure of all kinds, behind Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower) at 300 meters.

The shrine to Billiken located on the fifth-floor observation deck.

The cylindrical cluster of neon tubes at the top of Tsūtenkaku actually serves as a weather report for the next day. White means clear skies, orange means overcast, and blue means rain. Separated into two rows, the top indicates the weather earlier in the day, while the bottom points to the latter half. You may find yourself glancing up to check the weather forecast on your way home from Shinsekai before more sightseeing the next day.

The top of Tsūtenkaku features a weather forecast display, this particular one indicating “clear skies followed by clouds.”

Billiken has become something of the mascot of Shinsekai, a beloved deity seated with his feet stretched out before him and a cute little smile on his face. Though there are several different stories as to where Billiken originated, one is that he appeared to American artist Florence Pretz in a dream back in 1908. In Shinsekai, Billiken has become so popular that you can see versions of him in just about any diner. There is even a Billiken Shrine you can visit. Don’t forget to rub the bottom of his feet when you see him, as it is said to bring good fortune.

The Billiken Shrine offers omikuji fortune-telling strips of paper. 

One of the many statues of Billiken appearing outside of restaurants in Shinsekai.



  • Address: 1-18-6 Ebisu Higashi, Naniwa, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture
  • Access:
    • 7-minute walk from Dōbutsuenmae station, Metro Midōsuji Line (exit 1)
    • 5-minute walk from Ebisuchō station, Metro Sakaisuji Line (exit 3)
    • 9-minute walk from east exit of JR Shin-Imamiya station, Osaka Loop Line (Kanjō-sen)
  • Hours: 9:00 am to 9:00 pm (Last entry at 8:30 pm)
  • Price: ¥700 for adults (high school and above), ¥400 for children 5 and up (group discounts available)
  • Tel.: 06-6641-9555
  • Open: 365 days a year
  • Multilanguage pamphlets available in: English, Korean, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Thai

(Originally written in Japanese by Fujii Kazuyuki. Photographs by Kuroiwa Masakazu. Banner photo: Colorful signs advertise the food on offer in Shinsekai.)

Osaka tourism food