Visiting Shinsekai but not keen on deep-fried food at all the kushikatsu restaurants? Check out Daiko Sushi in Jan Jan Arcade for a cheap and cheerful meal. It's perfect budget traveller fare.
3 pieces of hamachi nigiri brushed with soy sauce. - image © Florentyna Leow
Shinsekai is the birthplace of kushikatsu, Osaka's quintessential B-grade cuisine. Most Osakans would probably agree that a visit to their city is incomplete without eating kushikatsu. But what if you end up in Shinsekai and just can't face the prospect of hot, deep-fried skewers?
Boiled prawn nigiri. - image © Florentyna Leow
Enter Daiko Sushi, an understated sushi joint in Jan Jan Arcade. There are two branches - the original shop, and the southern shop located 10 seconds apart from each other. The Minamiten branch is a quiet and relaxed place for lunch, the kind that never seems to be more than half full on a weekday afternoon. Many here are solitary diners. Some alternate sushi and cigarettes, some seem to be starting their days with hot sake and beer.
A view from the counter. - image © Florentyna Leow
Time slows down in a place like this. The sushi chefs may smile at you, but do not necessarily banter beyond the necessary pleasantries. I might have chatted a bit more to the old man making my sushi if I had understood his thick Osakan dialect a little more. You hear them calling out orders, irrasshai, thank yous to departing customers. An occasional tourist or two will pop in from time to time. They will point at the appropriate photos on the menu, available in English and Chinese, which the staff will hand to them from somewhere behind the counter.
Inside the restaurant. - image © Florentyna Leow
The sushi here is not groundbreaking, but it is cheap, generously-sized, and very decent for what it is. The neta (topping) is fresh and comes in thick slices, the shari slightly vinegary. They'll come on plates in twos and threes, never singly. You'll brush on the soy sauce from the pot, rather than dip it in a saucer - perfect for controlling the amount of soy sauce on your sushi and preventing overly salty mishaps. At around JPY300 - JPY600 per plate, this is ideal budget traveller food. You wouldn't come to Shinsekai explicitly for this, but you could definitely pop in for a few plates to scratch an itch, or just have a light sushi snack.
Ikura gunkan with half the rice. - image © Florentyna Leow
What exactly should one order here? Most things are pretty decent here. Most people will be entirely happy with the salmon, boiled prawns, octopus, or hamachi. I enjoyed my ikura gunkan, with half the amount of rice but just as much salmon roe spooned on top - cold, sharp, salty. Too much is just right in this case.
Anago sushi. - image © Florentyna Leow
Then there's the simmered anago with a dab of sweet-salty glaze (tsume) and sansho - surprisingly delicate and meaty, and well done for its price point. Entirely worth ordering.
Tachiuo sushi. - image © Florentyna Leow
I like being inspired by other diners - by which I mean copying them when they’re eating something particularly tasty-looking. This is how I ended up with a plate of tachiuo, or silver beltfish. It has a clean flavour, a tight, lightly bouncy texture, fantastic with a little squeeze of lemon and a brushing of soy sauce. It isn’t your usual salmon sushi.
Two pieces of nodoguro sushi. - image © Florentyna Leow
Another interesting piece to try when it's in season around winter is nodoguro, or black throat perch. It's a rich, delicate sort of fish. Torching brings out the oils, and a light squeeze of lemon adds a little touch of acidity. It could have been torched more carefully and thoroughly here, but you do get what you pay for. You will invariably have better nodoguro at a more upscale sushi restaurant, but this isn't a bad place to get an idea of the fish.
If you can read a little Japanese or have a Japanese-speaker with you, it's worth ordering off the seasonal menu on the whiteboard, too. The sole disadvantage to eating on your own is having limited stomach space for a wider variety of dishes. A plate of shirako ponzu to share? Yes, please!
Octopus sushi. Not bad at all. - image © Florentyna Leow
Sushi isn't the first food that comes to mind when you mention Shinsekai to most people. But a few days after eating at Daiko Sushi, I asked a kimono seller in Nippombashi whether there was a place in Shinsekai he'd recommend for lunch, and this was tops on his list. That says enough. It's not award-winning sushi in any way. But I liked Daiko Sushi for what it is, and if you care about eating where the locals eat, this is one place to hit up.
The entrance to the southern branch of Daiko Sushi. - image © Florentyna Leow
Directions: Take the subway to Dobutsuen-mae Station on the Midosuji line. Take Exit 1. Once above ground, walk straight and veer left into the tunnel. Walk through. You'll arrive at Jan Jan Arcade, a narrow shopping arcade leading to Shinsekai. Daiko is a few seconds or so into the arcade on your right. This is the ”southern” branch - the original branch is a very short walk further up the arcade on your right.
Daiko Sushi Minamiten
Name in Japanese:
3-2-18 Ebisu Higashi, Naniwa Ward, Osaka
Subway: 1-minute walk from Exit 1 of Doubutsuen-mae Station on the Midosuji Subway Line or 5-minute walk from East Exit of Shin-Imamiya Station on the JR Osaka Loop Line
Yes (except on weekends)
:: Read customer reviews of Daiko Sushi Minamiten on TripAdvisor
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