7 Things You Shouldn’t Miss Out On in Dotonbori – Ps. It’s a Foodie’s Paradise
February 23, 2019
Hong Kong’s neon signs are as iconic as its skyline, but many of them are disappearing now, and I wasn’t impressed when I visited. However, when I first stepped foot in Dotonbori last November, the eclectic mix of flamboyant signage, glaring neon lights, and huge variety of restaurants, bars, and shops awed me speechless. Dotonbori is the liveliest entertainment area in Osaka and I felt a little overwhelmed with everything that was going on. To help you out, here’s a guide on the recommended places you shouldn’t miss out in Dotonbori.
#1 – The Glico Running Man
The Glico Running Man near Ebisubashi Bridge is the most famous sign in Dotonbori. The first Glico sign was installed at the exact same spot in 1935, and over the years, the sign was improved on, and the one you’re seeing today is the sixth version, renewed with LED lighting in 2014. Don’t you find this place a great meeting point, especially back in those days when carrying a mobile phone or communicating via whatsapp were not common? I guess I can also safely say that if you haven’t taken a shot with the Glico Running Man, you haven’t actually visited Dotonbori.
#2 – Kukuru Takoyaki
The enormous octopus sign drew my attention, and after looking at the menu, I was so spoilt for choice. Kukuru serves the usual takoyaki, which consists eight grilled golden brown tasty dumplings filled with fresh octopus, tempura flakes, pickled ginger and fresh green onion, topped with their own top-secret savoury sweet and sour takoyaki sauce and tangy mayonnaise, then sprinkled with green seaweed powder and dried fish flakes.
Besides this usual takoyaki, Kukuru also serves akashiyaki, a soup-style takoyaki, and negiakashiyaki that comes with a light tasty broth for dipping. It was a solo trip, so I couldn’t try all the variations, but to make the best out of my meal, I ordered the All Round Takoyaki where eight dumplings are each filled with a different main ingredient, ranging from fresh octopus, pork, shrimp, corn, mochi, tuna, cheese, to bacon. The mochi one was really unique!
#3 – Kani Doraku
It’s almost impossible to miss the signboard with the gigantic moving crab. Locals and tourists patronise this restaurant for delicious meals of fresh, juicy and succulent crab. It’s pricing is a little steep, but so worth splurging. I didn’t want to wait for over an hour to be seated, so I tried the grilled crab claws from their food stand right beside the entrance of their restaurant. It was amazing, and I will definitely return with Jayden in future, so we can enjoy a crab feast together.
#4 – Gyoza Hot Dog
There’s this food stall that serves Gyoza Hot Dog. There isn’t any hot dog, but six gyozas are served atop cheese, French fries and Dotonbori stir-fried noodles with Worcestershire sauce, and sandwiched between hot dog buns. On impulse, I ordered one portion, and it was super huge that I had to pack it back to the hotel for supper. It’s an unusual combination, but not that bad (taste-wise).
#5 – The Other Interesting Food and Signboards
Pufferfish is highly recommended, but I was too full, so I had to give this delicacy a miss. With all the pictures I’ve shown, I don’t think there’s a need for me to elaborate more on the signboards.
#6 – Shinsaibashisuji Shopping Arcade
The Shinsaibashisuji shopping arcade runs from Dotonbori to Nagahori Dori Street, measuring 580 metres and contains approximately 180 stores among which you can find major department stores, brand retailers, independent fashion boutiques, teashops, and cafes. It’s a great place for shopping, but that’s only if you don’t mind the crazy crowds.
#7 – Kuidaore Taro Clown
I didn’t know about the existence of this clown until I visited Dotonbori. His name, “Kuidaore”, which translates to ‘eat until you go bankrupt’, could not be more apt for the food district. You can find him standing in the lobby of one of Dotonbori’s commercial buildings, cheerfully banging away at a snare drum. If you observe him long enough, you might notice his expression changing from a pleasant cheerfulness to something cheeky and mischievous, and back again. The souvenir shops in Dotonbori offer key chains, figurines, plushies, clothes and even food featuring this popular clown.
Dotonbori is certainly a paradise for shopaholics and a heaven for food lovers. It’s better to visit this district in the evening when the neon lights are at their brightest, and you’ll also be able to soak in the lively atmosphere.
Directions: Alight at the Namba Station of Subway Midosuji Line, and Dotonbori is a short walk from exit 14. If you’re coming from the Osaka International Airport, take the Airport Limousine Bus to Namba. The journey takes around 40 minutes.