There is a special place in my heart for food served on a stick: corn dogs, lollipops or perfectly grilled yakitori, it’s just a great and easy way to put food into your mouth. So it pretty obvious that I had to try kushiage on my last visit to Osaka.
Kushiage or Kushikatsu is a speciality of Osaka. The idea is simple: impale some food on a bamboo stick, dip it in batter, deep fry it very carefully and serve it burning hot . It’s the perfect bar food!
After walking around the Shinsekai area of Osaka which lays in the shadow of the Tsutenkaku Tower, we decided to try Daruma which is one of the oldest kushiage restaurant in the area. The area as a pretty bad reputation and I honestly could not figure why. The neighbourhood was built at the beginning of the 20th century to replicate New York City and Paris and is now surrounded by day labourers and some of the poorest residents of Osaka.
The line outside of Daruma was a very good sign, follow the line and one should in theory find a great meal. While waiting in line, I could see the action inside of this very packed and narrow restaurant shaped like a horse shoe with the cooks in the middle. We waited about 25 min to get in and I started the night with a cold beer. Is there any other way to start the night?
My wife ordered a set menu which had shrimp, mochi, onion, cheese, meat and a bunch of other stuff. We were offered homemade kimchi while we were waiting for our order.
If you are into double dipping, this place is not for you. A warning card printed in English was provided along an English menu of all the kushiage available. There is a container of sauce and salt on the counter and a bowl of raw cabbage for dipping.
I ended up ordering the house imo shochu. Kushiage is delicious bar food, but it’s hardly a meal for my ravenous appetite, so I ordered negi, oyster, lotus root . I might be slowly turning Japanese, but I felt that rice was lacking to make it a complete meal.
The food was fresh and served at the perfectly crispy. The cooks all seem to pay a lot of attention to the execution of the deep-frying.
Daruma is a great place to visit, but I will try to find a new kushiage place next time, something along the line of a izakaya/kushiage shop. If you have a great suggestion, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.