When it comes to food, Osaka has one of the best food scenes in Japan. After all, Osaka is the food capital of Japan. Whether it is sushi joints, Michelin-starred restaurants, or street food, you’ll find something yummy to eat. The same is true about finding affordable dishes to suit every budget when you are in Osaka.
One of my biggest concerns while planning for my trip to Japan during my year of travel was cost. Budget travel is not the first thing that comes to mind when one plans for a trip to Japan. Fortunately, there are plenty of cheap eats in Osaka, Japan’s third-largest city. Having the option to try so many different dishes at an affordable price means you can taste a bit of everything and not break the bank!
If you are planning to visit Osaka and you are on the hunt for cheap eats for authentic Japanese food, you’ll want to keep this guide handy. This post shows you all the great places to have affordable snacks, meals and of course, desserts for under ¥1000. Prices are in this guide as well as the best places to try these dishes.
Downloadable map for finding affordable cheap eats in Osaka
Click here to view on Google Maps all the yummy places I mentioned in this post. You can also save the map to your account for easy planning. Note that you’ll need a Google account to save the map to your phone.
Cheap street food and quick bites
One of the great things about Osaka is their vibrant street food scene! Here are some great dishes to check out.
Osaka cheap eats #1: Okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki is so delicious that I could eat it daily and not get sick of it. This savoury pancake is often referred to as a Japanese pizza and often comes with a variety of different ingredients. Okonomiyaki became popular during World War II, when food was scarce, and the Japanese had to combine whatever ingredients they had to survive. For that reason, you’ll find vendors serving their version of okonomiyaki in Osaka. Vendors will put things like shredded cabbage, seafood and meat in its okonomiyaki as the main filling. This delicious pancake is often served with mayo, dried bonito and okonomiyaki sauce.
How much does okonomiyaki cost?
Prices for this delicious dish starts at ¥750 and increases as you include more premium toppings.
Where to eat okonomiyaki in Osaka?
- Okonomiyaki Tombe
- Chibo Dotonbori
- Hozenji Yokocho
- Tsuruhashi Fugetsu
- Okonomiyaki Kiji
Osaka cheap eats #2: Butaman
Butaman is the Japanese name for the Chinese pork bun (aka baozi 包子). This savoury street food has ground pork, beef, and vegetables as a filling. Note that the rest of Japan usually refers to these pork buns at nikuman.
Best place to try butaman in Osaka
If you’ve had Chinese pork buns before, you might think there’s nothing special about butaman and may skip over this savoury snack while in Osaka. And you might be right most of the time, but the one place where you should try butaman while in Osaka is from a shop called 551 Horai.
This vendor specialized only in butaman and was perfected by three Taiwanese people living in Osaka in the mid-1940s. Today, these buns are super popular for their fluffy dough and juicy pork filling. They are also good value for what you pay as each pork bun is quite large! One of the reasons why their pork buns are so delicious is because the company is dedicated to having the freshest ingredients possible. They are so committed to making fresh butaman that they bake a limited number of buns per day. Because fresh ingredients are essential to 551 Horai, you can only get 551 Horai butaman in Osaka and nowhere else in Japan. As someone who generally skips buns, I enjoyed eating butaman from 551 Horai.
Tip: Osakans like to eat their butaman with karashi (Japanese mustard)!
Note: Never eat your pork bun on the shinkansen as it is considered bad manners to do so! The smell of the steamed pork buns permeates throughout the whole train, leaving other travellers to experience “豚まんテロ” (Pork bun terrorism).
How much does butaman buns cost?
The price range for these butaman buns start at ¥340 for 2 buns.
Osaka cheap eats #3: Yakitori
Yakitori, aka bite-sized grilled chicken on a skewer, is a common sight around Osaka. The meat is cooked over a charcoal grill and served with sauces like wasabi or pepper. Some stands will serve the heart, intestines or liver so make sure to check what type of meat it is before you buy.
How much do yakitori cost?
Yakitori is around ¥500 for two skewers, making it a cheap snack to eat while on the go.
Where to eat yakitori?
- Yakitori no meimon Akiyoshi Shinsaibashiminami
My funny yakitori story
One of the most hilarious moments during the my travels in Japan has got to be witnessing a Japanese guy accidentally drop a piece of fried chicken from Kin-No-Tarikara in a garbage can (he was eating over it). Here’s what I wrote:
He stopped eating, paused to think about what to do before reaching into the bin and grabbing the chicken. He then blew on the chicken before popping it into his mouth. While it was a super funny sight to see and might come off as gross to some, I know why he did that. For one, the chicken was pretty good and two, the five-second rule is more like a five-minute rule in Japan. The country is seriously that clean!
Osaka cheap eats #4: Takoyaki
Takoyaki (octopus-filled balls) is ubiquitous in Osaka and rightly so as this famous street food originated from Osaka! This fried snack is made of batter, Japanese stock, octopus pieces, green onions and pickled ginger. While often served with dried bonito and mayonnaise, you’ll find many street stalls coming up with unique toppings in Osaka.
How much does takoyaki cost?
Expect to pay around ¥450 – ¥700 for about ten takoyaki balls. The price varies depending on the toppings that you choose for the takoyaki balls.
Where to eat takoyaki in Osaka?
- Takoyaki Juhachiban Dotonbori
- Acchichi Honpo
- Takoyaki Wanaka
- Aizuya Takoyaki
Considering how takoyaki was invented in Osaka, it should be no surprise that you’ll encounter a takoyaki stand on almost every street corner. If you are keen on learning the history of this dish, check out the Dotonbori Konamon Museum.
Osaka cheap eats #5: Ramen
If you are looking for a satisfying meal that is easy on the budget, ramen has you covered! If there is one dish that I could eat every day while in Japan, it would be ramen, hands down! This noodle-based dish is made with flavourful broth, a few slices of meat and often comes with an egg. It is common to have your noodle bowl topped with bean sprouts, scallions and onions.
My favourite place to eat ramen while in Osaka is Ippudo Ramen. We ordered the Shiromaru Classic dish (¥790, ¥1,020 for all toppings) and the Karaka (¥1,120). The Shiromaru Classic has a very rich and fragrant tonkotsu since the broth is cooked for over 18 hours.
How much does ramen cost?
Prices start at ¥600 and up, and you pay extra for more toppings.
Where to eat ramen in Osaka?
- Ippudo Namba
- Kamukura Dotombori
- Kinryu Ramen
- Ramen Yashichi
- Kadoya Shokudo
Osaka cheap eats #6: Fresh potato chips from Calbee
Yes, I am one of those foodies who get super curious when I see a long line-up, and that’s how I noticed the Calbee shop in Osaka.
These delicious chips are like a crossbreed between fresh potato chips and French fries. But I wouldn’t put them in either bucket because they are too fresh to be potato chips, yet too crispy to be French fries. There’s this addictive hollow crunchy bite that leaves you wanting to take another bite so that you can figure what you ate! Hard to describe, but that’s the best way I can put it in words.
I’ve also never had potato chips made fresh right before my eyes, so it was an interesting experience for me.
How much do fresh potato chips from Calbee cost?
A small box costs anywhere from ¥290 to ¥310. Yes, it’s a bit pricey for what you get but so worth it!
Osaka cheap eats #7: Japanese curry
Japanese curry is one of the most popular dishes in Japan, and something worth trying once if you are a curry lover. While curry in Japan has its origins in India, Japanese curry still has a unique taste that makes it different from Indian or Thai curry. In comparison to the other types of curry, Japanese curry is sweeter thanks to the grated apple, carrots and onions. You’ll also find the sauce to be much thicker than other types of sauces.
Where to try Japanese curry in Osaka?
While there are many curry joints in Osaka, the one place I recommend is Yakumido Curry. I suggest trying the split dish so you can sample two different types of curry. Not only is the curry delicious, but the owner is very hospitable and will talk about Osaka life and his experiences abroad. There are only six seats for customers, so you will have the chance to get to know the owner and other customers as well. That’s what happened to us during our visit; we ended up staying in touch the another couple we met in Yukumido and ended up meeting up with them in Taiwan.
How much does curry cost in Osaka?
Expect to pay as little as ¥500 for a dish of Japanese curry.
Cheap desserts to try in Osaka
I’m a huge dessert lover and had more than my fair share of desserts while in Osaka. Here is a list of dessert places you might want to try if you have a sweet tooth.
Osaka cheap eats #8: Nama chocolate from Royce
Ok, while this chocolate is expensive compared to what you’d normally pay for this confection, trust me when I say that it is worth every yen! This chocolate is really fresh and will melt in your mouth! Nama chocolate has a texture like ganache, similar to the filling you’d find inside truffles. This chocolate is so fresh that you have to consume a few days after purchase. If you plan to take it away, you have the option to buy a refrigerated bag to keep the chocolate fresh and cool.
How much does nama chocolate cost?
A box of nama chocolate will cost ¥800
Where to buy nama chocolate in Osaka
The best place to buy this delicious chocolate is from the airport. I have no idea why it was so hard to find Royce chocolate in Osaka!
Osaka cheap eats #9: Manju
Manju is a popular Japanese rice cake that kind of looks like mochi. The outside is often made of flour, rice powder with a sweet bean paste. The outside layer has a bit of a flakey crust.
How much does manju cost?
Expect to pay around ¥130 for one manju.
Where to eat manju?
A freshly made manju from Tsukigesho is a must try! Their main confection uses butter to make this dessert rich and has a sweet white bean paste filling.
Osaka cheap eats #10: Cheese tarts from Pablo
Originally from Osaka, Pablo is a famous and popular shop that specializes in cheesecakes and mini pies. If you’ve never tried these cheese tarts, you’re in for a real treat! The crunchy crust is baked with a creamy and fluffy cheesecake center. It’s not too sweet or dense, making it a great dessert to indulge in without feeling like you’re eating too much dairy.
While I had my fair share of PABLO cheese tarts in Thailand, I couldn’t resist eating one in Japan.
PABLO mini cheese tart
I love the mini cheese tarts and almost always bought one whenever I passed by a Pablo shop! These mini cheese tarts are filled with thick custard cream in different flavours. These bite-sized tarts make it a yummy midday dessert treat.
Prices start at ¥220 for the plain cheese tart.
Just Baked cheesecake
If you are at one of the sit-down cafes, you can have your cheesecake baked depending on your personal preferences. Rare has the melt-in-your-mouth sensation while having your cheesecake baked to medium leaves a fluffy texture. I recommend getting it medium instead of rare because I find the rare version a bit too runny for my liking. You can also order them as take-out as they will stay fresh in your fridge for up to three days.
A sweet surprise during my visit to a Pablo café
While G was in the washroom, I was watching an employee clean the walls. It’s not uncommon to see employees go out of their way to keep the area clean, and I was impressed at her work ethic. But then she started to make some loud window screeching sounds while cleaning. I was very confused because they were louder than what window screeches would be. She then turned around and started dancing! Two other employees came out to join her and they all began dancing! Their skit left me smiling because I was so touched that they’d have this kind of performance for no particular reason.
Osaka cheap eats #11: Hojicha-flavoured sweets (aka roasted green tea)
If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you’ll know that I’m a HUGE fan of hojicha flavoured desserts! Hojicha is roasted Japanese green tea that has a slight caramel-like and earthy flavour. That’s because the Japanese green tea is roasted in a porcelain pot over charcoal for so long that the tea leaves turn from green to reddish-brown.
Here are some delicious hojicha-flavoured sweets to try if you are new to hojicha:
Hojicha soft serve ice cream from Pablo ¥400
Hojicha shaved ice dessert
Roasted tea parfait from Shinsaibashi Ujien Honten: ¥800
Osaka cheap eats #12: Melonpan ice cream (メロンパンイス)
This sweet dessert kept coming up while I was researching all the things to eat in Osaka. Melanpan gets its name from its rock melon shape and reminds me of the HK pineapple buns. I found this pastry to be more flakey with a buttery center compared to the traditional HK buns. The bun is also not too sweet and paired well with the ice cream. You can choose to have vanilla, Hokkaido, or green tea ice cream as your filling, making it a yummy ice cream sandwich.
I chose the green tea ice cream and found it to be very delicious. The ice cream was very creamy and had a hint of green tea, which complimented well with the soft yet crunchy bun.
How much does Melanpan cost?
Prices start at ¥400 if you choose vanilla ice cream and up to ¥700 if you go for green tea ice cream.
Where to eat Melanpan
The only place to try this delicious treat is at the food truck in Dotonbori called the World’s Second Best Freshly Baked Melonpan Ice Cream.
Osaka cheap eats #13: Taiyaki
Taiyaki is a popular Japanese snack that is made of fluffy pancake or waffle batter that comes with a sweet filling inside a fish-like pancake. Some of the fillings you can expect to find in a taiyaki are red bean paste, chocolate, custard or sweet potato.
While taiyaki has its roots in Tokyo, it was invented by a man who was originally from Osaka but moved to Tokyo for business. He owned an imagawayaki shop that wasn’t doing very well and tried to come up with innovative ways to bring more business. Eventually, he came up with the idea of selling the snacks in the shape of a sea bream. Sea bream is considered an auspicious dish in Japan and is eaten during events and festivals.
How much does taiyaki cost?
Prices range between ¥100-300 per taiyaki
Where to eat taiyaki in Osaka?
- Street stalls around Osaka
- Naruto Taiyaki Hompo
Osaka cheap eats #14: Crepes
Street vendors selling crepes (some have over a hundred variations) is a common sight in Osaka. A typical Japanese crepe consists of fruits, custard, and tons of whipped cream. Most also offer ice cream (highly recommended!) to top off this sweet treat. My favourite crepes from Japan usually include matcha-flavoured toppings, mochi, and red bean paste.
How much do crepes cost in Osaka?
Expect to pay around ¥650 for a basic one. Prices will increase depending on the toppings.
Osaka cheap eats #15: Cream puffs
While not a huge must eat in Osaka, cream puffs are a tasty dessert/snack that’s easy on the budget! If you’ve had a profitereole, chou a la crème or an éclair, well, these cream puffs in Osaka pretty much taste like that. The most significant difference is that it comes with flavours you would commonly find in Asian desserts. The most common cream puffs come with flavoured custard cream, whipped cream, or sometimes even ice cream.
I bought a chestnut cream puff from Hop Chou a la crème in Osaka. The chestnut cream was a bit too nutty, and the outside is much crunchier than other cream puffs that I tried.
How much does one cream puff cost?
Expect to pay as little as ¥150 for one cream puff.
Where to eat cream puffs in Osaka?
- Hop Chou A La Cream
- Beard Papa’s
What the coffee scene is like in Osaka
If you are a coffee addict, you’ll be happy to know that Osaka has some great cafes that serve a delicious cup of coffee. Many coffee bars also serve as a workspace and is a great way to connect with others.
I am not a crazy caffeine addict, but my friends raved about the coffee in Osaka.
How much does coffee cost in Osaka?
Expect to pay as much as ¥450 for a cup of coffee.
Where to try coffee in Osaka
- LiLo Coffee Roasters
- Mill Pour
- Brooking Roasting Company
- Steamer Coffee Company
Top things to do in Osaka
If you’ve had enough of eating, here are some fun things to do while you are in the city:
- Visit the Osaka Castle: Paying a visit to one of the most magnificent castles in Japan is a must!
- See the Umeda Sky Building: This futuristic building will make you feel as if you stepped into a scene in a sci-fi movie
- See the iconic Shinsekai at night: Make sure to walk around the city’s old downtown district at night
Read this blog post for a complete guide of the top things to do in Osaka. Save money by booking the Osaka Amazing Pass to see many attractions in Osaka.
Where to stay in Osaka
- Dotonbori Hotel: You will likely see this hotel when walking around Dotonbori as the entrance is hard to miss! There are four statues of faces that are set on top of a pair of legs…it’s a very odd sight to see. Another cool thing about this hotel is that it offers free ramen and beer to guests after 10:30 pm!
- HOTEL THE FLAG Shinsaibashi: This affordable three-star hotel is just 600 meters away from the Dotonbori river
- Best Western Hotel Fino Osaka Shinsaibashi: I stayed here during my trip and felt it offered good value. I liked that it was a short walk from Dotonbori and is close to two subway stations as well. You can read my detailed blog post about the Best Western Hotel Fino Osaka here.
- Sotetsu Grand Fresa Osaka – Namba: Another great three-star hotel located near Dotonbori
- Ostay Tanimachi Hotel Apartment: This apartment is in the Chua Ward and close to the subway station. Great for those who prefer an apartment over a hotel
- OOKINI HOTELS Ota-Road Apartment: Here’s another very affordable apartment (under $50 USD a night) and near the Namba station
- FDS Dernier: Here’s an excellent apartment that is in a local Japanese neighbourhood but within a short walk to the Hazanocho Station. I have my eye on this one the next time I go on an extended trip to Japan
You’ll be happy to know that WIFI is very easy to buy and use in Japan, perfect for those times when you need to translate menus, use maps, or post to social media. Book in advance to have your pocket WIFI unit ready to be picked up at the airport by booking here.
Leave the planning to someone else! Book a tour
- Osaka Kuromon Market & Dotonbori street walking tour: Have someone guide you through the 200-year-old Kuromon Market and learn about the history of this fantastic place.
- Osaka Local Foodie Tour In Dotonbori and Shinsekai: Have a local guide give you a tour of the Dotonbori and Shinsekai area while taking you to try some delicious street food.
Great Day Trips from Osaka
Osaka is a great place to use as a base while visiting nearby towns and cities. Whether it is a day trip to Kyoto Mount Koya, Nara or Hiroshima, you can make the trip to these places all within a short train ride away. Read my detailed guide on great day trips from Osaka.
Cheap eats at the supermarkets
Another great way to save money while eating well in Osaka is to visit Japanese supermarkets. The food is freshly cooked, and they are so delicious! If you end up visiting your local grocery store after 8 pm, you’ll find that most food items are on sale!
Eating well while on a budget is something that can be done in Osaka. You can find authentic Japanese food in the food capital of Japan.