Let’s be honest, we all get a craving for desserts, even when we are on vacation. What are you supposed to do when you are in an unfamiliar foreign country? Especially a country that doesn’t speak native English. Let’s say a place like Osaka. Oddly specific huh? Well, that is because this blog was created to help you by introducing some of the best Osaka desserts. There are many items to try in Osaka, and even more places to try them. It can be difficult deciding what is worth your time and money. Therefore, I have selected a few of my favorite desserts and where to find them, and made them into an easy to read list.
Before we begin, just a note about eating food in public. There are customs in Japan that should be respected while eating. It is best to avoid bringing food indoors, including shrines, temples, and department stores. Also, avoid leaving litter. No matter what you choose from this list, I’m sure you will enjoy it. I covered everything from classic desserts to traditional sweets. You probably want to start enjoying these desserts, so let's get started.
The following Items are similar to the classic western style desserts, but with some Osaka love mixed in. In Osaka you can find so many different variations so it can be a little overwhelming. Just stick to this list and you are sure to find something you would like.
ICE CREAM TO MELT FOR
Of course we all know the sweet creamy delicacy that is ice cream. But did you know that Japan is home to some of the most interesting and original flavors. They also have soy ice cream for those with sensitive stomachs. Some flavors you might find include; matcha green tea, soda, and charcoal. I have even found squid ink once (I do not recommend). At first those might not seem appealing, but once you try them at one of these locations you will feel differently.
GONSO ICE DOG
Gonso Ice Dog made its way onto the Best Osaka Desserts list because of the quality they put into their ice cream. They call it their こだわり、meaning their specialty. Moreover, they are quite popular for their presentation. Not only can you get ice cream in the traditional ice cream cone, you can also get it served in a sweet bun. The fluffy texture of the bun paired with the creaminess of the ice cream make this an unexpected match. A classic, but with an unexpectedly rewarding twist. Some of their more popular flavors include; Matcha, soda, and coffee. Just a warning, their matcha ice cream tends to be on the bitter side. Regardless of what you order you won’t regret trying this great spot.
Another great adaptation of this classic is the ice cream balls found at Ze-Roku. This ice cream is particularly fun because of it’s concept, ultimately landing it a spot on the Osaka Desserts list. The ice cream is presented in a similar fashion to monaka, and the sensation is inexplicable. If you are unfamiliar with monaka, it is a paste or jam sandwiched between two crisps. In this case the paste is swapped out with ice cream. Just imagine a hot summer day, and then ice cream melting in your mouth as the crispy outer shell softens. It is the perfect treat for enjoying a warm and sunny day in Osaka. This ice cream is a must try and can be bought in a multi flavor pack, perfect for sampling or sharing.
In western culture pancakes aren’t usually considered a dessert, but they are definitely worth your attention in Osaka. Japanese pancakes are much fluffier than their U.S. counterpart, making them worthy to be on the Best Osaka Desserts list. Also, in contrast to western pancakes, these fluffy pancakes can be found with many different flavors, toppings, and fillings. If you are curious about trying pancakes these are some of my favorite places to try them.
THE ORIGINAL PANCAKE HOUSE
The Original Pancake House in Osaka is home to some of the best pancakes in Japan. They have many unique flavors, including macadamia, matcha, and many other variations. Their staple pancake is a soft and gooey center, with a crisp outer shell. It almost looks like a bowl. They also have fluffy pancakes. Regardless of what you order, there is always something worth experiencing at least once.
SHIAWASE NO PANCAKE
Although this place is now a chainstore it was originally founded in Osaka. Their product was too good not to share. That is why it is a must for Osaka desserts. Shiawase no Pancake specializes in making soft and fluffy pancakes that appear to melt on the plate. It is almost like a cake, but with that similar buttery taste found only in a pancake. At Shiawase no Pancake, all of their pancakes are served with a scoop of ice cream, fruit, or chocolate, making it the perfected selection for you.
If you have never had a crepe in Osaka, they come rolled like an ice-cream cone, and stuffed full with ice cream and fruit. Although this style of crepe isn’t exclusive to Osaka, there is a shop that is too good to pass up, which is why I included it on my list of Best Osaka Desserts.
Alcyon Crepe was first founded in Osaka in the 1950’s, giving it a bit of a history. They had time to perfect their crepe, which can be either thin and soft, or crispy. Here you can find many sweet crepes, as well as savory dinner crepes. They really know how to do crepes well. You can have dinner and dessert at one stop, saving you time for some karaoke after. Some of the notable dessert flavors are chocolate strawberry and red bean paste. These crepes can be plated, or rolled for on the go traveling. Whether you dine in and relax, or take your crepe to go, you won’t want to miss this place.
Many tasty Japanese treats can be found throughout Japan, however, some items are just done better in Osaka. I find that many desserts in Osaka are created in a traditional fashion, but with a twist. A bit of moxy, if you will. Here are some of my favorites.
SWEET AND BITTER ZENZAI
What is Zenzai? Zenzai is a sweet mochi cake countered by a semi sweet red bean soup. You may be wondering why you should try this. Well, because it is refreshing as well as a flavor unique to Japan. If you have tried red beans in a pastry you may think you understand the flavor. However, I have to tell you it is different. The combination of both the rice cake and red beans makes it very savory.
DANGO YOU WILL DROOL OVER
Fact is, you have probably seen Dango in an anime or drama. Honestly there is nothing bad to be said about dango. Kiyasu of Osaka specializes in Dango, one of their popular being mitarashi dango. If you don’t know about mitarashi, it is the sticky golden brown dango. The flavor is so sweet and mature at the same time. It is sure to give you moments of pleasure. Kiyasu also makes mochi and warabi mochi, so if you want to try more this is the place to go!
FLUFFY, BOUNCY, CHEESECAKE
I fell in love with Japanese cheesecake the moment I tried it, and it just so happens that one of the best cheesecakes is in Osaka. Rikuro’s cheesecake is not like standard cheesecake. It is fluffy, creamy, and you can never buy enough. For just about 700 yen you can buy your own cheesecake.
A STAPLE MADE BETTER, TAKOYAKI
There is a saying that people in Osaka often own at least one takoyaki machine. This is because takoyaki is a big part of Osaka’s culture. You can even sometimes find takoyaki stands doing flavors like chocolate or nutella, making it an Osaka Dessert. Pretty cool, right? Unfortunately there isn’t a dedicated spot for this style of Takoyaki, but some places can do it if requested.
Most of the desserts mentioned before are priced under 1000 yen per person, but these are my top picks. Taiyaki, dango, crepes, and finally ice cream. Taiyaki and dango can often be bought for a couple hundred yen, making them an easy choice if you are saving your souvenir money. They are also unique to Japan, and the quality can change in each region. Therefore you should try these items in every city you visit! Crepe’s can be purchased for around 500 yen, and generally come rolled so you can carry it. Ice cream is my final choice because of the bizarre selection of the flavors and value. Osaka has many street vendors in the summer so you can often find ice cream for around 500 yen. When I think I have tried every unique “Japanese” flavor, I’m always finding new ones.
Spring in Japan means one thing, Cherry blossoms. This includes cherry blossom flavored sweets. You can find cherry blossom (sakura) flavored beverages at places like Starbucks. You can also find sakura flavored cakes and sweets at many convenience stores or pastry shops. One unique creation you may find is sakura cream filled Taiyaki.
Japanese summers are often hot, extremely hot. It is not uncommon to find tourists losing their minds because of baking in the sun. One way to combat this is with a light and cooling dessert. This dessert is known as Kakigori. Kakigori is essentially shaved ice with flavored syrup. However, in Osaka you can find kakigori with red beans mixed in, chunks of fruit, and even sometimes condensed milk. You will most likely find this treat in busy areas at a stand.
Baked Sweet Potato has been a popular fall treat in Japan for generations. Although Sweet Potato is available throughout Japan, you can find some good spots in Osaka. Baked Sweet Potato is usually found at food stands or inside of grocery stores, so it should be easy to find.
One of my favorite treats in winter is Amazake. Amazake is a warm beverage which sometimes contains a small amount of alcohol. It has a sweet creamy flavor and is also full of cultures which helps your digestion. Amazake can be found at many street vendors, similar to sweet potato.
There is never really a “wrong way” to enjoy dessert in Osaka. No matter what you get it will be something “uniquely Japanese”. Moreso, if you are on vacation why not indulge. Don’t be afraid to pig out a little and enjoy your stay. If you are in Osaka you are probably walking enough anyways. Try as many desserts as you desire. If you want to try only a few items though, your best bet would be to try something new. Try items such as taiyaki, zenzai, or dango. If you don’t like it, you can always try a safer item after, such as ice cream or a crepe.
Also, another thing to consider while in Osaka is to ask native Japanese people about desserts in Osaka. This could be a good conversation starter. Why not invite them to enjoy some dessert. You could learn something new. Lastly, be sure to observe the eating customs in Japan. Generally, speaking with food in your mouth is considered rude behavior. Also food is often banned from temples and shrines. Now that you are ready to tackle some of the best Osaka desserts, where will you go first?