Osaka is one of the food capitals of Japan, and among the most locally treasured things to eat, is tuna.
You can eat tuna in all grades and types at everything from budget conveyor belt sushi restaurants, to the highest end restaurants in Japan.
And along with sushi bars, one of my personal favorite places to enjoy tuna is at izakaya’s, Japanese pubs that serve bite sized plates of delicious food, paired with a great social atmosphere.
In Osaka, Chayamamchi Maguroya (梅田芝田一丁目まぐろや) is an izakaya that specializes in tuna, and if you’re ready to fulfill your tuna craving, this place won’t let you down.
When I was in Osaka, my buddy Dwight introduced me to a Chayamamchi Maguroya (梅田芝田一丁目まぐろや), a big yet friendly izakaya specializing mostly in tuna.
One late-afternoon, we navigated our way through the backend streets of Umeda Station, and headed straight to the restaurant for a cold beverage, and to get a sample of their tuna dishes.
Chayamamchi Maguroya (梅田芝田一丁目まぐろや)
Located in the Umeda area of Osaka (right near Umeda Station and Osaka Station), is Chayamamchi Maguroya (梅田芝田一丁目まぐろや), a popular izakaya where people flock after the day of work to hang out and socialize with friends, have a drink, and a few plates of extremely good sashimi and other dishes.
As soon as you see the restaurant from the outside, with its giant models of tuna outside the entrance, you can pretty easily come to the conclusion that they don’t mess around when it comes to tuna.
While some Japanese izakaya bars are small and intimate, with only bar counter seating, Chayamamchi Maguroya (梅田芝田一丁目まぐろや) is the big and noisy kind of izkaya – still very friendly, but a bunch of tables (you might share a table with another party) crammed into a cozy crowded space.
During peak hours, the pub gets loud with conversation and the clanking of beer glasses, and every few minutes the staff yell out a powerful greeting to their customers.
It’s really a fantastic environment, both for the social hanging out part, and for the food.
Sometimes when you eat at Japanese restaurants in Japan, it can be tough to order because the menu is not always in English.
Luckily, Chayamamchi Maguroya (梅田芝田一丁目まぐろや) does have an English menu, and while the English menu is quite extensive and has plenty of items to choose from, if you compare it to the Japanese menu, there are still plenty of other dishes that got lost in the translation.
In any case, thats fine, and the English menu is more than sufficient to get your mouthwatering, and to order a spread of different dishes.
Along with a selection of sashimi, on the menu you’ll also find a selection of salads and a section of boiled dishes – most of which I think was cooked in the oden style.
Again, even though this was all in Japanese, I loved how they had a laminated piece of paper with a hand painted tuna, and then an explanation of the different cuts of maguro, tuna fish.
I would have loved to have an entire poster of this image on my wall at home.
One of the most common things to do at any izakaya pub in Japan is have a drink, and that’s typically the first thing everyone orders as soon as they sit down.
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I had a Kirin draft, which came in an ice cold mug. Sipping the beer prepared my taste buds for the tuna that was soon to emerge.
But before the tuna came, the first thing we ordered that arrived at our table, were the oden braised items, cooked in a light stock and served with a dab of hot mustard on the side.
They had a few different vegetables on the menu, tofu, and even skewers of tuna, all cooked as oden, which you can order at the restaurant (and I’ll share other tuna skewers we had below), but we began with tofu and daikon radish.
The daikon was thick and hearty, and full of the juicy sweetness of the broth and natural daikon.
The tofu was also really good, nice and crumbly, not unlike a cottage cheese or Indian paneer, but with a fried skin around the outside.
Tuna belly (0-toro)
Next came the tuna belly, or the o-toro.
And this was not just any tuna belly, it was some of the most beautiful and well presented tuna belly that I’ve ever seen in my life.
Served room temperature, it glistened in the light of the restaurant, and it literally looked like slices of pink butter, slightly melting in the fresh warm summer air.
Just look at that marbling, and the veins of white fat running through those thick bites of tuna belly – it was almost too good to be true.
Our plate of tuna belly at Chayamamchi Maguroya (梅田芝田一丁目まぐろや) proved to be one of the best things I ate during our entire two week trip to Osaka.
It honestly didn’t need any seasoning whatsoever; It was perfect on its own, so pure, so fresh, and so heavenly.
I first took a bite of half my first slice of tuna belly and my teeth slid through the meat, and immediately the fat started to liquify on my tongue. Even if you didn’t chew and just let the piece of tuna sit on your tongue, within minutes it would start to turn to liquid in your mouth.
For anyone who loves tuna, the otoro, tuna belly, is one of the highest and purest culinary moments.
Conger eel tempura
Dwight had already eaten at Chayamamchi Maguroya (梅田芝田一丁目まぐろや) a number of times, and he said the conger eel tempura was also excellent, so we ordered one to share.
The eel was long and thin, covered in a light tempura batter, and then deep fried to a light golden color, and served with a dipping sauce, pureed daikon, and a fried shiso leaf on the side.
What made the eel tempura so good was that it was deep fried fresh, so it was hot and crispy, and because we ate it immediately it didn’t feel oily.
The eel inside tasted quite similar to a white meat fish, slightly flaky without a fishy flavor, and it was fully encased in crispiness.
The eye of tuna
I guess when Dwight and I ordered the tuna eye off the menu, we were envisioning a giant eyeball served on a plate before us.
In reality, I’m guessing it was the eyeball socket meat – and I say meat because it really tasted and looked like red meat as opposed to what I often think of as fish.
The skewer, was I believe braised in the oden broth, and included meaty chunks of the tuna, plus a couple rows of leek as well.
The tuna was unbelievably tender and juicy – it kind of reminded me of beef tongue, but more tender and more juicy – probably both from the meat as well as the oden braised cooking method.
The cheek of tuna
Along with the eye, we also had a skewer of the cheek of tuna, the cheek being one of my favorite parts of any fish.
The cheek of this tuna was nice and meaty again, just like the eye socket, but maybe a little more firm. Still, it was juicy like dark meat chicken, and even softer.
With a little touch of mustard, it was even better. I could have cleaned quite a few skewers of the tuna cheek clean, that’s for sure.
The only downside to eating and drinking at izakaya restaurants like Chayamamchi Maguroya (梅田芝田一丁目まぐろや) in Osaka or anywhere in Japan, is that the food and atmosphere is so good, you could sit there for hours.
And the food is typically bite sized, kind of like Spanish tapas, so you could continue to slowly eat plate after plate after plate, and never really get full.
So those of us who are on a limited budget, we really have to pick and choose wisely the things to order off the menu.
I was about ready to call it quits so that we would have money to eat later on in the trip, and although I was still hungry, I was so satisfied from the tuna belly, that I was smiling without even knowing it and I was in a state of tuna belly high.
But as I was vlogging, Dwight called over the waitress and ordered two more dishes for us to try… he was in a bit of a tuna high himself, and could not resist.
The impulse next round arrived, and to get things started, we had a plate of scallops. Scallops happen to be one of my favorite things from the sea.
These scallops were just slightly seared on the outside – perhaps with just a few seconds of a fire torch – so they had that brown sizzle on the edge, but remained soft and raw on the inside.
The scallops were so sweet, and so flavorful that they did not need anything. The meat was firm, yet melted at the same time. Unbelievably good.
On the menu it read “A dish of minced tuna,” so both of us were expecting it to be the negitoro, minced fatty tuna, which happens to be one of my favorite hand roll sushi fillings.
But what came were slices of the red meat tuna (akami), that were arranged in a nest shape, with a raw egg yolk plopped right in the middle, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds on top.
It was an incredibly beautiful creation, a nest of tuna and yolk.
We whirled up the yolk, and then dipped each morsel of tuna into the yolk, pairing it with some of the pickles and shreds of seaweed on the side.
The fish was marinated in some kind of soy sauce based dressing, and to me it tasted like a Hawaiian style shoyu poke, but with the extra addition of an egg yolk creaminess.
It was the perfect way to end this tuna izakaya experience in Osaka.
There were three of us, and our total bill for everything we ordered, plus a couple of drinks, came to 4,632 Yen ($38.63).
It’s on the expensive side (considering we still needed to eat dinner afterwards), but the quality of the tuna, and everything else we ordered, plus the atmosphere, and the cultural experience, was well worth it.
One of the most important foods to eat in Japan is maguro, referring to a variety of different species of tuna. Tuna is the most common and sought after type of fish for sushi and sashimi consumption throughout the world, especially in Japan.
In Osaka, there’s a popular izakaya (Japanese pub) called Chayamamchi Maguroya (梅田芝田一丁目まぐろや) that specializes, and is well known for serving tuna.
When I was eating my way through Osaka, along with my buddy Dwight, we spent an evening hanging out at Chayamamchi Maguroya (梅田芝田一丁目まぐろや), and I thoroughly enjoyed the lively atmosphere, and every single plate of food we ordered.
The highlight for me were the slices of melt in your mouth tuna belly (otoro) and the tuna nest with a raw yolk in the middle.
If you love tuna, when you visit Osaka, this izakaya is a place you don’t want to miss.
Chayamamchi Maguroya (梅田芝田一丁目まぐろや)
Address: 北区芝田1-5-6 (梅田旭ビル1F), Osaka, Ōsaka, 530-0012, Japan
Open hours: I think they are open from about 5 pm – until Midnight daily
Prices: There were 3 of us, and we had about 8 dishes, plus drinks for 4,632 Yen ($38.63) – I think it’s a very good deal for what we ate.
How to get there: The restaurant is located on the western edge of Osaka’s Umeda Station, kind of right beside the railroad track. It’s just a 5 minute walk from Umeda Station, but best to use the map below to navigate your way there.