Osaka, Japan Feb. 28 Wed 11:20AM
An Osaka Favorite
What is Kushikatsu?
Kushikatsu is basically just a deep-fried, skewered dish, usually made with chicken, fish, or pork. Many types of seasonal vegetables are also used, such as onion or mushroom. "Kushi" in Japanese means "skewer" and "katsu" means "fried" (usually in reference to pork), but many other items can be used.
The batter used consists of egg, flour and panko. Panko is Japanese-style breadcrumbs made from bread without using the crust. Panko is very commonly used for most fried foods, including another favorite, tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlet). After the batter is added, the skewer is then deep fried in vegetable oil. Finally, it is served with tonkatsu or oyster sauce for dipping.
In the Kanto region of Japan, however, the same dish is referred to as kushiage. It is popular as well, but not as much as in Kansai. There are many variations on the dish, which is part of its popularity. Osaka has some pretty interesting, modern variations not traditionally found, such as strawberries, cheesecake, or even ice cream!
The Shinsekai neighborhood of Osaka is considered to be the birthplace of kushikatsu. Even today, there are many restaurants serving the local favorite in this area. Kushikatsu seems to have originated here as a dish served by hostesses to local workers who were looking for a quick snack during the busy workday. Being very portable and easy to eat quickly, even standing up, it would have been very convenient for those in a hurry to back to work. Because it is so easy to serve and eat, a lot of standing bars (establishments where you eat or drink standing) offer it on their menu.
Eating Guidelines and Tips
There are a few important things to note about enjoying kushikatsu in a restaurant. For one, a side dish of cabbage is either served with your meal, or else it may already be on the table and is usually free.
The second, and most important kushikastu rule is: never double dip! The containers of dipping sauce are shared, especially in Osaka, and therefore hygiene becomes a very important issue. Because of this, it is forbidden in restaurants to dip an already bitten kushi into the sauce a second time. Most likely, there will be plenty signs clearly stating this point (in case you forget), so please be mindful and don't dip twice.
If you do need more sauce for a skewer already bitten, just put some sauce on a of cabbage and then transfer to your skewer. Problem solved! When finishing a skewer, you simply place it in a receptacle provided on the table.
Where to Eat Kushikatsu in Osaka
As mentioned earlier, the Shinsekai district is home to many of the best kushikastu restaurants in Osaka. A few of the most famous and long-standing are Yakko, Kushikatsu Daruma, and Yaekatsu. Please note that they are all counter or standing only and do not accept credit cards. Because of their popularity, be prepared for to wait in line.
Osaka is home to many delicious Japanese favorites. If you want to explore Japanese food and find yourself in the area, give Osaka’s famous kushikastu a try!