[Osaka] If you are looking for the best kushikatsu in Dotonbori, look no further than Daruma located north of Namba station.
Considered an Osaka specialty, kushikatsu 串カツ (also known as also known as kushiage 串揚げ) are deep-fried breaded food such as meat and vegetables on skewers. (“Kushi” refers to the skewers used, while “katsu” means a deep-fried cutlet of meat.
Kushikatsu Daruma has a history since 1929, and you would see shops peppered around Osaka. The other prominent place to find this is at Shinsekai near Tennoji Zoo.
To spot the restaurant, look out for the mascot of an angry-looking man holding kushikatsu skewers in the shape of an “X”. That refers to strict rule “no double-dipping” of the skewer into the sauce.
This non-smoking restaurant can accommodate up to 96 persons, ie 24 seats at the counter, 50 seats at the tables, and 20 seats at the floor. Prepare to spend around ¥1,500 – ¥2,500 for a meal. Credit cards are accepted.
Batter, their original sauce, and fresh-tasting good oil form the trinity of taste at Kushikatsu Daruma.
What makes their kushikatsu special is their use of oils from prawn heads to make their skewers flavourful.
For convenience (as a tourist), there are three combinations you can choose from – the Combo Shinsekai (¥1,400 for 9 pieces), Combo Dotonbori (¥1,800 for 15 pieces), and Shinosaka (¥2,200 for 14 pieces).
I ordered the Dotonbori Set (¥1,800, SGD22.80) which includes Ganso Kushikatsu, Pork Cutlet, Tsukune, Mochi, Shrimp, Asparagus, Quail Eggs, Weiner, Cheese Chikuwa, and a choice of Dodeyaki, Green Soybeans or special Kimchi. You can also top up pieces ala carte.
What really drew me was the contrast between that light, crispy batter with a touch of fluffiness, with the juicy meat or fresh-tasting vegetables inside.
Slight warning though, they come out piping hot, so be careful of your tongue throat as you take that first bite.
In terms of sequence, you may want to start with the plainer tasting items first, then moving on to the meats and stronger-flavoured ones.
There were a few pieces I had without the sauce, and allowed me to savour the natural flavours, such as the sweet tomato.
Back to the sauce – no double dipping.
When you take a bite of your kushikatsu, NEVER dip it into the sauce again. That is because it is provided in a steel container meant for communal sharing.
If you need to get more sauce, slices of cabbage are provided so that you can scoop it up.
Daruma is probably one of those iconic kushikatsu restaurants you got to try in Osaka.
Kushikatsu Daruma Dotonbori 元祖串かつ だるま
542-0071 Osaka Chuo-Ku, Osaka Dotonbori 1-6-3 Japan
Tel: +81 6 6213 8101
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 10:30pm (Mon – Sun)
Kushikatsu Daruma Shinsekai Sohonten
2 Chome-3-9 Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa Ward, Osaka, 556-0002, Japan
Tel: +81 6 6645 7056
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm (Mon – Sun)
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