It's a simple premise: if you only had 24 hours to dine in a destination of your choice, where would you go and what would you eat? Aaron Yew of Malayan Traders Capital, chose Osaka as his go-to dining destination. Why Osaka over Tokyo? Come find out.
1. Aaron Yew
One of the founders and the deputy chief investment officer of Malayan Traders Capital, Yew is a watch enthusiast with a love for travel.
He counts Japan as one of his favourite food places and chooses Osaka because of the city's charm, world class eats and his desire to shine a light on the city's lesser known reputation as a dining destination as compared to Tokyo.
Having been to Osaka twice, he lets us in on his 7 dining spots that are a must-go if one only has 24 hours in the city
2. Lilo Coffee Roasters
"I love my coffee and everywhere I go I will have to find a really good place to have my cup," says Yew.
Having lived in Melbourne for a number of years and a coffee aficionado, Lilo Coffee Roasters is his cafe of choice when in Osaka.
Perfect for a morning perk-me-up and sure to please even die-hard coffee lovers, this small dedicated coffee shop is Yew's favourite morning hang-out spot to fuel up for the day ahead.
Although the venue is more of a go-in go-out type of coffee spot, he admits that one can sit down for a moment and enjoy watching the bustling Osaka life go-by.
3. Kuromon Market
"I would go to Kuromon either for lunch, or slightly just before, for Japanese beef," says Yew. Arguably one of the most famous markets in Osaka, like Tsujiki is to Tokyo, Kuromon is littered with seafood, meat, souvenir and handicraft stores.
"Osaka is a great place for Wagyu and Kobe beef. I like going to the market, you get a variety of stuff there. You can even have sushi there," he adds.
Head to Wagyu-kun, pick your meat of choice, your desired cut and quantity, and they'll cook it for you there and then, serving it on its own with a little bit of salt on the side.
A word of advice from Yew, if you're all beefed out, next to store is a delicious tuna stall that serves every part of the fish.
4. Ichiran Ramen
Next on his list is the famous Ichiran ramen, specialising in a full-flavoured tonkotsu (pork bone) broth, for lunch. It being a famous chain, one can do a quick google search to reveal Ichiran's many outlets in Osaka.
"I've been to a few ramen places, and to be fair they were good, but Ichiran is the only place that allowed me to really customise my noodles, how light, thick, or spicy I wanted it," says Yew. "It's ramen where you just take it all the broth; the second it's on your table you can already smell how great it will be,"
Although this isn't a ramen restaurant native to Osaka (it comes from Fukuoka), Ichiran is one of the most popular ramen chains in Japan with long lines to prove it.
The eatery has private booths set up by default, making it perfect for solo eaters, but if you're with someone, don't worry, the wooden separators can be opened up.
5. Ajinoya Okonomiyaki
In a town famous for okonomiyaki (Japanese savoury pancake), Ajinoya stands out for Yew. Great anytime of the day, this is Osaka's soul food.
Located in the Namba district in Osaka, expect to queue at this popular eatery. While the regular okonomiyaki can be quite filling, Yew suggests having half if you don't intend to have this for dinner and just as a snack.
"Have the seafood okonimiyaki with a draft beer and you'll be good. It's thin, with a good balance of egg and seafood. If you're going in a group, their yakisoba is also really good!" Yew reveals.
For dinner, this 3-Michelin star kaiseki restaurant in Kitashinchi gets top marks.
"You will have to make reservations at Koryu in advance because it's a small place and there's no menu. You go in there and the chef produces everything for you depending on what they feel is freshest that day," Yew suggests.
However, the diner will get to decide how many courses they would like, along with their particular food preferences, before the start of the meal.
"This is a place that will give you a sense of what Osaka has to offer at the higher spectrum. If kaiseki isn't to your liking, an alternative would be to go to any izakaya. You still won't be disappointed," he adds.
7. The Bar Elixir K
End your day with a trip to one of Osaka's many foreigner friendly bars.
"There's a bar right around the corner from Koryu called The Bar Elixir K, with very friendly staff that speaks English," says Yew.
With an intimate setting and great drinks, the bar is worth a stop in Yew's books mostly in part due to the bartender's ability to make good cocktails based on your alcohol preferences.
8. Bar Freedom
If whisky is your preferred spirit, Bar Freedom specialises in offering a wide range of whiskies and making creative cocktails from it.
"I had a whisky-based matcha drink that you don't find very often and the staff and the people who go there are very friendly. They were kind enough to share with me some of the ins and outs of the city," explains Yew.
"I would spend an hour or two at each of these spots and if you still have the energy for it, there are a lot of interesting bars out there, like a video game themed bar that I also went to," he added.