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Kuromon is an undercover market about 600 m in length. It comprises of around 200 shops which offer an absolute food galore ranging from sushi and sashimi, grilled scallops and crabs, to seared Kobe beef, not to mention freshest white strawberries.
Kuromon Market is called ‘Osaka’s Kitchen’ because this is where the locals eat in Osaka and restaurant owners shop for their supplies.
Kuromon Market will tease your taste buds and fill your tummy. However, hold on to your wallet if you are on a budget, because you will simply overspend!
Kuromon Ichiba Market Map
Following is a map that I picked up at the market. It will help you navigate through Kuromon Market. I will be referring to this map throughout my post.
What to Eat at Kuromon Ichiba Market?
Here Are 10 Culinary Experiences You Won’t Want to Miss!
Fresh Sea Urchin (Uni)
Fresh sea urchin is an absolute must-try best seafood at Kuromon Market!
Uni is the Japanese word for sea urchin, or more specifically, a sea urchin’s gonads.
Honestly, I have never sampled a sea urchin before, however after tasting one, it moved to the top of my list!
If you have never tried uni before, I would say: what are you waiting for? It is a must!
To begin with:
- the texture as creamy or buttery, silky and delicate with just a slight firmness
- the aroma is like a clean ocean smell
- the taste: it has an almost ineffable flavor; ever so slightly sweet, clean and crisp and it lingers on
- Finally, its color is beautiful – shades of gold, yellow and orange
There are more than 100 varieties of sea urchins, albeit only a few kinds are eaten:
- Bafun uni – sometimes referred to flatteringly as horse-dung sea urchin
- Murasaki uni – purple sea urchin. These are the most common species.
- Aka uni – red sea urchin. These are rare and very pricey. They thrive in the Kyushu region of western Japan.
It was fascinating to watch how the sea urchin is prepared!
I saw the cuisinier expertly turn the sea urchin upside-down to expose its mouth. Next, he used the kitchen shears and pierced a hole near the perimeter of the skeleton. Then, he cut a circle of about a 3″ diameter out of the shell. With expertise, he lifted up the circular cut part of the shell and removed it.
Finally, he extracted a complex dental apparatus known as Aristotle’s lantern, which looked like a white star-shaped flower. Then, he used a spoon to carefully scoop out the roe. The roe is the only edible part of the spiny creatures. Finally, he gently rinsed the roe in water and voila, it was ready!
Conversely, this divisive delicacy has been catching on with gourmets around the globe.
Grilled Scallops with Soy Sauce and Butter
at Uofuku Kuromon Market
To tell you the truth, I love grilled scallops! And, you will fall in love with them as well, if you head to Uofuku Kuromon Market.
Uofuku Kuromon Market
Uofuku is located on Kuromon Market Map as Shop No.37.
In fact, Uofuku is hard to miss, because there will be a crowd surrounding the tiny stall and the smell of grilled scallops will hit you almost immediately.
First, you need to pick the scallop size you want. Of course, base it on your budget because they are pricey for a single little treat.
Second, your scallop will be cracked open and thoroughly cleaned and then, put back on the half shell.
Next, it will be seasoned with a dab of butter and some soy sauce and grilled in its own scallop juices right before your eyes.
The scallop that I selected was unbelievably delicious. The meat was firm yet soft and silky, and it had a natural sweetness to it, with a faint soy sauce and roasted butter aroma and flavor.
O-toro – Tuna Belly, that Will MELT in Your Mouth
at Kuromon Sanpei
O-toro is the fattiest and most desired section found on the underside of the tuna belly.
However, if you are as confused as I was regarding different types of tuna parts, then let’s break down the hierarchy of tuna anatomy. Before we get started, I just need to clarify that there is bluefin tuna known as maguro and yellowfin tuna known as ahi.
Here, we will discuss maguro or bluefin tuna, which is the best known and most commonly eaten fish for sushi.
Hierarchy of Tuna Anatomy
- Akami – the meat located on the sides of the fish and commonly used for run-of-the-mill sushi is called Akami. It has a dark red color and it is lean.
- Toro, also known as “fatty tuna,” is found in the belly. Toro is further divided into two distinct categories known as Chu-toro and O-toro.
- Chu-toro is normally much less veined by means of fat, even though it remains a lot more oily compared with pieces from the higher area from the fish, including akami, found along the side of the belly.
- O-toro, found along the side of the belly, is the fattiest and most desired section of the underside of the belly. An exceptional part of O-toro is going to be soft pink together with vibrant oily white colored lines, which typically give it that distinctive and magnificent tastiness.
To further illustrate the differences, following is a picture that puts it all in perspective:
To get back to the point, you will find a lot of shops selling Nigiri, which is a specific type of sushi consisting of a slice of raw fish over pressed vinegared rice and sashimi, which refers to just slices of very fresh fish served raw, often over a bed of shredded daikon radish.
I suggest you make your rounds and select the place that draws the biggest crowd and prepares the food right in front of you.
My favorite place is Kuromon Sanpei. It is located on Kuromon Market Map as Shop No. 1.
Kuromon Sanpei is known for their fatty tuna and it is simply to die for! All in all. It is rich and creamy. It kind of evaporates while you indulge in it.
Kuromon Sanpei is a busy place. There is always a line in front of it. If you decide to give it a try, make sure to arrive by at least 11 am.
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Fugu Fish – Be Brave and Try It!
Fugu meaning “river” and “pig” is also known as:
- blowfish or,
The first known fact about fugu is that it can puff up, to make itself look bigger and more dangerous. The second fact, probably even more known, is that it contains a deadly poison. Specifically, tetrododoxin.
Tetrododoxin is found in the skin, skeleton, ovaries, intestines and particularly in the liver of fugu fish.
Preparation of fugu fish is strictly controlled by law.
Fugu chefs must go through rigorous training for years to gain the certification that allows them to prepare the fish for human consumption.
At the end of the training, there is a test in which the chef must prepare a fugu dish – and eat it!
If you are brave enough, then try it!
There are several places at Kuromon Market that are certified to prepare fugu fish. It is the best eaten raw, as sashimi, cut into very thin slices.
In my opinion, the taste is extremely delicate and the texture gelatinous.
Zuboraya in Shinsekai
However, I have to be honest and say that my favorite place for fugu is Zuboraya located in Shinsekai. It is, hands down, delicious!
Grilled Kobe and Wagyu Beef
at Butcher Kobeya
Let’s take a break from seafood and try some beef!
Kobe or Wagyu beef? Are you confused which one to try? Needless to say, I was just as confused. What is the difference?
In short, Kobe beef is a variety of Wagyu beef.
Wagyu, loosely translated, means “Japanese cattle” (“Wa-” meaning Japanese or Japanese-style, and “-gyu” meaning cow or cattle). So “Wagyu” refers to any cattle that is bred in Japan or the Japanese-style.
Kobe beef is comprised of a very particular strain of Wagyu called Tajima-Gyu that is raised to strict standards in the prefecture of Hyogo. (Hyogo’s capital city is Kobe, thus the name).
What Makes Wagyu Beef So Special?
First of all, the cattle is fed with special feeds created out of forage, grasses, and rice straw, then supplemented with corn, barley, soybean, wheat bran, and in some cases, even beer or sake.
It is sometimes said that herders would massage their cattle to alleviate muscle tension caused by cramped spaces (though many people consider this only a myth).
As a result of these breeding methods combined with longer periods for fattening, Wagyu beef has an unparalleled level of marbling.
Furthermore, it is better tasting. The fat melts at a lower temperature than any other cattle’s, resulting in a rich, buttery flavor unseen in other strains of beef. This fat is also unsaturated and high in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, meaning not only is Wagyu marbling more delicious, it’s also more healthy.
If you want to try Wagyu or go all out and try Kobe beef then head to Butcher Kobeya. It is located at Shop No. 7 on the map. Butcher Kobeya has 2 sections – a butcher downstairs and a restaurant upstairs.
Even though the section downstairs is a butcher, they do serve Wagyu or Kobe beef. The only requirement is that it weighs at least 100 grams. Ah, if you think that 100 grams is a lot, unfortunately, it is not!
Nevertheless, It will be the most memorable 100 grams of beef that you have ever tried.
They broil it right in front of you with a bit of salt and pepper. The meat melts in your mouth like butter.
at Takoyaki Wanaka Kuromon
For delicious takoyaki proceed to Takoyaki Wanaka Kuromon.
It is located right in the middle of the market and marked as Shop No. 9 on the map. Their specialty is obviously takoyaki!
What is takoyaki?
Takoyaki is a ball-shaped snack made out of wheat flour batter and cooked in a special molded pan.
Takoyaki Wanaka’s version is filled with minced octopus, pickled ginger and green onion. It is brushed with a special tokayaki sauce and mayonnaise, and then sprinkled with shavings of dried bonito.
Kuromon Market Horumon
at Bokudan Horumon
Have you ever tried horumon?
“Horumon” is a term used for the innards or offal of a cow, pig, and chicken.
The origin of the word is from Osaka’s dialect, “hourumon”(which means “a thing you throw away”). Well, if you have not tried it yet, then head on to Bokudan Horumon shop.
The version of horumon that they serve consists of cut up pieces of innards stewed with onions and generously seasoned.
Kuromon Market Unagi
at Marusho Suisan
Grilled unagi (eel) is a relatively expensive delicacy in Japan.
It is prized not only for its flavor but also for its legendary stamina-giving properties.
I read that it is traditionally eaten during the hottest part of the summer (on the “Day of the Ox” on the lunar calendar) to provide strength and vitality for the rest of the year.
For a great tasting and freshly grilled unagi steer towards Marusho Suisan, which is located in the north-east section of the market and marked at Shop No. 14 on the map.
Marusho Suisan’s unagi is crisp on the outside but succulent and tender on the inside. I think that the cooking process that they have is what makes the eel crisp and tender. They grill the eel over hot charcoal, and then season it with a sweetish sauce and then, grill it for a second time.
Kuromon Market Must Eats – Tako Tamago
Tako Tamago consists of a quail egg stuffed into the head of a little glazed, grilled octopus, which is then impaled on a skewer.
Pick one up from any stand and enjoy it as you are strolling up and down the isles! I assure you that you will like it. What you will notice is that the flavor is not overpowering. However, it is slightly sweet. And, the octopus itself is chewy, as octopus is.
The best for last!
How about some delicious broiled crab?
There are numerous shops that sell crab legs that are prepared fresh everyday.
I usually opt for a crab combo: king crab legs and one jumbo shrimp grilled and served alongside ponzu sauce.
Pricey? Yes, at 5000 yen. However, I can say without hesitation, it is, hands down, the best king crab you will ever have!
The crab feast concludes your visit to the Kuromon Market.
Nevertheless, on the way out make sure to pick up some divine freshest white strawberries.
Kuromon Market Coffee
Lastly, if you like coffee, then make a quick stop at Green Beans Parlor.
It sells yet-to-be-roasted green coffee beans, only roasted when purchased.
The variety of beans that they carry is amazing.
How to Get to Kuromon Ichiba Market
And luckily since Osaka has such a hassle free public transportation system, as in most of Japan, you can easily get to Kuroman Ichiba Market by Subway.
Take the Subway to Nippombashi Station, take Exit 2, and walk for about 2 minutes, veering to the left, and you’ll be at the market.
Alternatively, it’s also very close to Namba Station, not more than a 5-10 minute walk.
Opening Hours of Kuromon Ichiba Market
Each Shop and restaurant has different opening hours, but most are open throughout the daylight hours.
If you go anytime from about 8 am – 5 pm you’ll find most shops open and restaurants serving food.
Best Time to Visit Kuromon Ichiba Market
Generally, fish stores open early, around 7 AM, and close early, 5 PM.
Most restaurants don’t open until 11AM and close by 6PM.
Some stores are closed on Sundays and holidays.
If you are wondering what to do at night in Osaka, then you should look into one of the walking tours offered by Magical Trip.
Specifically, check out Osaka Bar Hopping Night Tour in Namba and discover Osaka’s hidden nightlife food alleys where locals dine and drink.
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