Part of the charm that a city or district offers are the products that they sell, especially the ones that are native to the area you’re visiting. You can find these products at the local street market, where you really experience the soul of the location of your travel. You may want to look out for what their bestsellers are; some areas are known for making the tasty variants of a product. Some specialize in certain crops, seafood, dairy product, meat, or a combination of these.
With commercialism so rampant, though, people rely on getting their food supplies from well-known supermarket chains, rendering traditional food markets a tad less more popular. Luckily, there is a counterculture that is moving to preserve these markets, and influence younger generations to buy from them instead of big-name department stores.
All About the Market Experience
Not only do these markets offer fresher, single-sourced ingredients often straight from the supplier, they also have different kinds of food prepared on-the-spot to choose from. The ingredients they use for those meals are as fresh as the ones they’re selling. As a tourist, going to a market allows you to immerse yourself in the sounds, sights, smells, and tastes of that culture.
Good Eats Around Osaka: A Guide to Kuromon Market
There are countless markets around Japan, some of them having roots that date all the way back to the 1600’s. In Osaka, one of the most popular (and older) markets is the Kuromon Ichiba Market. Located in the southern part of Osaka’s Chuo Ward, Kuromon market has been around for 190 (some say 170) years, and holds a total of around 170 shops, spanning about 600 meters long.
Why Is It Called “Kuromon Ichiba Market”?
This market has been around even before the Meiji period, as it was previously called “Emmeji Market”because it was very close to a temple that was named Emmeji. In the northeastern part of that temple, in even nearer proximity to the market, was a black gate. The temple’s black gate was later instead associated with the market, which is literally what its name, “kuromon”, means.
What is Sold in the Kuromon Market in Osaka?
You can buy very high quality and fresh ingredients here to bring home and prepare yourself. There are selections of vegetables, seafood, meat, and eggs, and so much more for you to choose from. These make up a fourth of all the stalls there. The other three quarters are made up of freshly cooked food, snacks, and meals you can offer. Aside from food, there are other knickknacks, gadgets, and even clothes for sale, depending on which side of the market you’re on – but these comprise a small percentage of the shops only.
Who Visits Kuromon Market?
Vendors also keep their options varied, so you will see a mix of both local and imported products. Many of those who come here are professionals in the culinary and service industry, looking for ingredients that are hard to find elsewhere.
Otherwise, locals (homeowners, businesspeople) and tourists alike flock to this market for their food fixes. In the past few years, its popularity boomed with Japan’s sudden increase in visitors. It also helps that there are websites that endorse and rate places to eat around certain areas, such as TripAdvisor.
Speaking of TripAdvisor, Kuromon market is the 12th top place to go to/activity to do in Osaka, out of the other 1,056 registered things you can do there. It has a four-star rating out of five, which is quite stellar, considering that this average was concluded out of 2,053 reviews.
Bites Of Food
The best part about this market is that you don’t have to get an entire meal to taste Osaka’s range of gastronomic delights – but that’s a plausible choice you can make too. In this market, there are all kinds of food stalls (for takeaway goods) and eateries (sit-down meals), with names that are famous and not-so-famous. Here are some examples of snacks and meals you can try out, and which brands to look out for.
There are some kiosks that offer tempura here – one that stands out is “Nisshindo”, serving halal tempura, which means that it is consumable by Muslims. Their batter is thick, and their prices depend on which kind of tempura you’re getting. Prices range from 100 yen to 700 yen. You have the Kansai specialty tempura, pickled ginger, or “beni shoga”. Then there’s also chicken, shrimp, and even “anago”, or saltwater eel.
Very close by Kuromon Market is another restaurant that specializes in tempura, with a full 5-star average rating on TripAdvisor. If you want to sit down and having some scrumptious tempura, check out Tempura Ebinoya Kuromon Ichiba Restaurant. It’s just a 3-minute walk away from the market.
There’s a corner stall in Kuromon market that’s notorious for serving great sushi, as it isn’t as readily available as it is in other parts of Japan. When you order their tekkamaki or their tuna sushi, prepare to have a roll that is literally overflowing with fresh, red tuna (akami). You can get a roll for around 800 yen, and there are only four seats by the stall, so you’d be lucky if you can sit. They have other raw fish dishes too.
Usually served during winter, Oden is a special Japanese soup that holds an assortment of various ingredients, all boiling up together with special dashi broth in a pot to make a warming, hearty comfort food. The components of oden can differ depending on the person who is eating it, but the usual ingredients include fishcakes, konjac, tofu, and daikon. One stall in this market called “Ishibashi Shokuhin” makes excellent oden – but the best part is, they let you choose which ingredients you want on your own.
Ishibashi Shokuhin opens on 9 AM and closes on 6:30 PM. It is also closed on Mondays, as well as national holidays.
One of the more widely-known brands is “たこやき道楽 わなか 千日前本店” or Takoyaki Doraku Wanaka, which sells some of the best Takoyaki in Osaka. Takoyaki is Japanese snack that is made by pouring a batter and chopped fillings (usually squid, ginger, tempura) into round-shaped grillers. A serving of Takoyaki Wanaka would cost you around 500 yen.
Kuromon market is known for its succulent grilled scallop delicacy. Still attached to the shell, the griller adds butter, seasoning, and some soy sauce, and grills it right in front of you. For 750 yen, you get a shell loaded with the most delectable scallops you’ll find within the vicinity; surely something you should make a priority, and wouldn’t want to miss.
The Best Kobe Beef in Osaka
Kobe, which is where Kobe Beef (a steak that is loved for its marble, softness, and taste) hails from, is beside Osaka. One of the most reliable places to get good Kobe Beef in Osaka is right at Kuromon market, in a shop called “Niku Wa Kobe-Ya”. Here, the store presents a display of different kinds of meats (even Japanese Black Beef) and cuts, which you can buy at given weights, and even have them grill for you at once.
Here’s an extra tip – if you have them grill it for you there, they add a special sauce that makes the meat even more delicious. Also, during Mondays, they don’t offer their grilling services. They open at 4 PM and end at midnight on weekdays, and on weekends, they open at 12 PM, closing at midnight as well.
Sweets You Can’t Resist
To end your palate on a sweet note, Kuromon market offers desserts and smoothies that are world class, in the guise of being sold at a simple market. “Daiwa Kaen” makes use of the strawberries that are sold in the market, turning them into works of confectionary art in their tart cakes. The most popular dessert is the Kuromon roll, which contains charcoal from the ubame oak, Hokkaido black beans, and chestnut, or “anko” in Japanese.
The baby octopus attached to the stick is quite a stunning visual, but also a savory grub. Stuffed with a quail egg, this delicacy is native to Osaka, which supposedly serves it better than street food vendors in other parts of Japan. See if you can also pick up a bottle of soy milk from Kuromon Furasato No Kaori, or purchase some tangy strawberries at Kuromon Nabeji.
Consider trying their fresh fruits like persimmons, and savory eats like steamed squash, prawns, crabs, uni, unagi, and all the other fresh seafood; though they aren’t as talked about as the other aspects of Kuromon market, they’re still super good.
Even within the Kuromon Ichiba market, there are other supermarkets. There is one dedicated to selling expensive, rare, and gourmet fruits and vegetables. Another is just an ordinary supermarket, with products you’d find in most stores in Japan, such as sushi, and other ready meals.
The Opening and Closing Hours of Kuromon Market
Kuromon market is open from 9 AM to 6 PM in general, but because it’s made from different stalls and shops, they may open and close separately from the entire market. In case you’re looking to visit one specific shop, it’s best to research or ask around what time it opens or closes. For inquiries, you may call 06-6631-0007.
Understand The Train Map Around Kuromon Market
It isn’t difficult to access the Kuromon market, all you must do is make sure you have a simple understanding of how the subway map works. Simply take any line that ends up in Nippombashi Station, and go out via Exit 2. From there, take a left turn, and keep walking, until you arrive at the market. In the rail map, you’ll notice that you can also access this market from Namba station, though it’s a farther walk, which takes about 5 to 10 minutes.
How to Get To Kuromon Market From Dotonbori
Dotonbori, a popular downtown district in Chuo, is walking distance from Kuromon market. It’s 750 meters away, which you can access by crossing several streets through walking. You’ll get there in 9 minutes.
Visit Kuromon Market
No matter where you are in Osaka, what hotel you’re staying in, or what season of the year it is, Kuromon market is accessible. Make a point to plan a day trip there, whether by yourself or with a friend. The food and experience are worth to visit.