Do you love fresh seafood cooked right before your eyes? Maybe you want to go on a food adventure, or perhaps you’d like to try a new dish? If so, the Kuromon Market is the place for you.
The 150 shops and stalls have earned their reputation as Osaka’s kitchen.
As you stroll through the market, you’ll find everything from slippers to bras to flowers, but the food is the star attraction.
The market targets restaurant owners and home cooks, but many of the stalls offer quick snacks. They range from Osakan specialties like takoyaki to Wagyu beef grilled to your specification.
The market has seen a massive boom in visitors in recent years. Unlike many other markets, Kuromon has embraced these visitors. Many stalls have English signs and sell foods you can easily eat on the go.
Some people find the friendly shopkeepers are the highlight of their visit… but others complain the market has become too touristy. You can experience it like the locals do if you get there early enough to avoid the tourists.
While you won’t find a deal at Kuromon Market, you will find delicious food. The Kuromon Market features the best seafood in Osaka!
What You Can Do at the Kuromon Market
The main attraction is the seafood – as it should be.
Fish traders set up shop in the area way back in 1822. The market originally went by the name Enmyoji market – after the nearby temple.
Gradually, due to the temple’s black gates, the name Kuromon Ichiba became popular. Kuromon Ichiba means “Black Gate Market.” When a fire destroyed the temple and gates in 1912, the name stuck.
As the market grew in popularity, more and more stalls sprung up to cater to casual visitors.
The Kuromon market is now one of Japan’s best food market experiences. It’s up there with Tokyo’s Tsukiji market and Kyoto’s Nishiki market.
There’s even a tourist information center.
The center offers restrooms and information about the market. The info comes in several languages. They also provide seating so you can sit down and enjoy your food.
The info center puts on special events; they recently held a tuna dissection. If you don’t think that’s impressive, keep in mind tuna are really, really big fish!
Kuromon Market was the site of the Guinness World Record-Breaking Giant Taiyaki. A taiyaki is a pancake filled with red bean paste and cooked in the shape of a fish.
While you won’t find the giant taiyaki for sale when you go, you will find plenty to tempt you.
Here are the foods I suggest you try…
Foods to Try
Before going to Japan, I didn’t think I liked seafood. Before eating oysters at Miyajima, I didn’t think I liked oysters. Before trying scallops at Kuromon market… I think you see where this is going!
Once you’ve chosen your scallop, the stall owner cuts it open and places the scallop on a grill. He adds a dab of butter and a splash of soy sauce, and the scallop cooks in its juices.
The result had me rethinking my dislike of scallops completely. If you already like scallops, you’ll need no convincing. Try them!
The scallops illustrate what makes Kuromon Market so special. The fresh food gets cooked simply, but the stall owner does it day in, day out, and it’s all he does. He knows how to cook scallops to perfection.
At around 750 yen, it’s on the pricey side. But the scallops are so good I consider them worth it!
If you’ve spent any time in Osaka – or even Japan – you’ve already tried takoyaki (fried octopus ball). With so many stalls selling food, it can be easy to pass by the market’s single takoyaki stall.
However, Takoyaki Wanaka is known throughout Osaka. They’ve established a chain of takoyaki restaurants.
I’m glad I stopped to try one. I was not disappointed with my takoyaki at all.
Maguroya Kurogin specializes in all forms of tuna. They sell a variety of cuts of superb quality.
You can buy tuna cuts to take home. You can also enjoy tuna right on the spot in sushi, sashimi, or donburi (rice bowl) form.
I recommend the sushi. They know what their customers want – Maguroya Kurogin’s sushi is heavy on the fish with just enough rice and seaweed to balance out the flavors.
You can choose from:
- Otoro – The rich, fatty cut
- Chutoro – Less fatty than otoro but still very flavorful
- Akami – The lean mean of the tuna
- Negi-toro – Finely diced tuna with spring onions
If you can’t decide how you want your tuna, you can try them all by getting a sashimi set of all three.
Want to try something filling? Get the nama hon-maguro sanshoku-don rice bowl. It’s topped with a generous amount of all four types of tuna.
Again, this isn’t the cheapest stall – but the quality is first-class. You won’t find better tuna anywhere!
Think twice before you buy any eel.
Unagi, the Japanese eel, gets sold in the summer. Japanese folklore considers eel to have a cooling effect.
The Japanese government lists eel as an endangered species, yet they do absolutely nothing to protect it. I can’t recommend eating eel in good conscience, but don’t worry – you have plenty of other options.
The Maruzen butcher shop gives meat lovers something to enjoy in the market.
Their display features slabs of marbled beef. They target pro chefs or the home cook shopping for a luxury meal.
Maruzen offers shoppers the option of having their meat cooked for them. Those of us without immediate access to a kitchen can still enjoy Wagyu beef.
Maruzen’s specialty is black Wagyu, and you can have it in steak or skewer form. Your meat comes with a pinch of salt and pepper on the side and a sprinkling of spring onion. This allows you to enjoy the pure flavor of the beef.
The Yamaguchien tea-store opened for business in 1937.
They still wow customers today.
The owners truly love tea and are knowledgeable about how to prepare it. In addition to allowing you to taste the tea before you buy it, they’ll tell you how to best prepare your tea.
If you want green tea to take home with you, ask the friendly staff for help. They’ll give you samples, and you can buy a beautiful container to store your tea in. They even sell tea-flavored ice cream!
Other Shops and Stalls
You’ll see lots of stores selling fresh vegetables, flowers, and pickles. You can also find supermarkets, pharmacies, and a sprinkling of other random offerings.
I can never pass up the pork-wrapped grilled rice balls. I usually get one of the fresh juices to go with it.
I particularly enjoy browsing the fruit stalls selling expensive and elaborately presented fruit. Once you see the prices, you may just want to browse too!
Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of seafood – you can still find plenty to interest you at Kuromon Market!
The Kuromon market doesn’t have a set schedule of hours. Most of the stalls open from 9:00am-6:00pm.
I recommend getting there on the earlier side to avoid the tourists (over 23,000 people visit the market each day!).
Having said that, if you arrive in the mid-afternoon or later, a lot of the food gets discounted.
Is Kuromon Market Worth Visiting?
Even if you’re not a huge foodie, you’ll find the food at Kuromon fascinating. It gives you (and your taste buds!) some insight into Japanese cooking culture.
If you are a foodie, it’s a complete no-brainer.
Getting to the Kuromon Market
The Kuromon Market is a short walk from the Osaka Subway Nippombashi Station. The station is on the Sakaisuji and Sennichimae Lines.
Once you get to the station, head for exit number 10. The market is pretty much immediately in front of you – it’s that easy.
The market is also close to the Kintetsu Nippombashi Station on the Kintetsu Namba Line.
Bring a shopping bag if you plan to buy groceries!
Make sure you bring cash. Most of the smaller stalls won’t accept credit cards.
Browse before you buy. It’s a good idea to walk around the market and get an idea of everything before you decide on what you’re going to eat. You have so many delicious foods to choose from!
Some stores, particularly those selling clothing, ask you not to eat and drink while you’re there.
Remember basic market common sense: don’t touch the food and fruits on display. Be mindful of the people who work and live there.
Dispose of your trash respectfully. When I can’t find a trash can, I ask the stall I bought my food from if I can give them my waste. They’ve always said yes.
Have You Been to Kuromon Market in Osaka?
If so, what did you think? What did you eat there? Did you try any of the dishes or shops we recommended? Let us know in the comments!
Also, don’t forget to share this article with your foodie friends. They’ll thank you once they try the food at the Kuromon Market!