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Global cuisine

What to eat at a Japanese seafood market

Aug 15, 2018 by Jamie Burke

Go Ahead Tours staffer Kat traveled on our tour of Japan, where she explored incredible sights across the country. One of her favorite stops was the Kuromon Ichiba Market, the famous covered market in Osaka. Nicknamed “Osaka’s kitchen,” it’s known as the spot to taste local produce—including freshly prepared seafood. Here, Kat shares some of her favorite bites and a few tips on how to order. (Spoiler: It’s easy, and delicious!)

a picture of squid skewered on a grill with a price tag in front

Grilled squid and grilled clams

If you know you like calamari or shellfish, the grilled squid and clams are probably the easiest foods to start with. These are grilled to perfection, and you can choose from a variety of provided sauces to top them off with. Like at most of the food stalls, ordering these is simple: just point to what you want and tell the chef how many. Since these are served on a skewer, they’re easy to carry around while you browse, too.

Grilled scallops and lobsters

Most of the stalls in this market sell their daily catch. At one particular stall, there was a variety of shellfish to choose from, most of which was kept on ice or in water buckets. Ordering here reminded me of the seafood restaurants I’ve visited in Greece—you just point at what you want, tell them how many, and on the grill it goes! Most of the shellfish here was covered in a butter-and-oil mixture with some spices. Both the scallops and lobster were cooked in their own shells until becoming nice and tender. The scallops were the perfect to-go food since the shell also acted as the plate!

a plate with four sections full of fried seafood


Takoyaki are essentially little octopus croquettes—they’re made with a batter of chopped octopus, flour, seasoning, and anything the chef feels like getting creative with. They make these in huge molds and use a long chopstick to rotate them to ensure an even cook. Ordering these was a snap! Everyone at the stall spoke English and was very polite.

I went for the seasonal variety since it looked amazing and let me try different types of seafood. As for taste, these are super creamy and delicious—think of a slightly thicker chicken pot pie in ball form. Just be careful when you get them; they smell great so you want to eat them right away, but they are extremely hot since everything is made fresh right in front of you.

In the market, there are several stalls that sell these and my advice is to look for the takoyaki stall with the longest line. Wherever the locals line up, that’s sure to be the best food.

Is a trip to Japan on your wish list? What would you order at the market? Tell us about it on our Facebook page!

Dining tips
About the author | Jamie Burke
Always on the lookout for the next best meal ever, Jamie loves exploring the world—and all the great food in it. When she's not working to inspire new travelers, you'll find her biking around Boston, eating at her favorite sushi place, or hanging out at home with her family (and cat).

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