Osakan found crab restaurant chain is famous and with good reason08 April, 2013 by Chad
Kani Doraku is a popular Japanese restaurant chain that specialises in all sorts of crab dishes. There are Kani Doraku stores all around Japan, but here we had the chance to visit the original store located just beside the Shinsaibashi Bridge at Dotonbori, Namba Osaka’s famous nightlife district.
Dotonbori is famous for the many outrageous store signs that the restaurants there incorporate, with Kani Doraku’s giant mechanical crab being one of the most iconic. The giant billboard outside each Kani Doraku outlet marks the restaurant’s speciality, and also makes spotting an outlet easy.
The “honten” or original Kani Doraku shop at Dotonbori, is able to accomodate more than 300 customers at a time. The first 4 floors contain regular walk-in seats while the top floor houses special VIP rooms for special functions. Though we didn’t have problems getting a table, it was already nearing closing time, yet most of the seats were still occupied. Business was good here. You can probably expect the place to be packed during peak hours.
In the lobby, a dozen live crabs were squeezed into one tiny fountain. After checking if we wanted to smoke and confirming that we were fine with only having one hour left, we were lead upstairs to a window-side table on the 4th floor where we could get a wonderful view of the Namba canal below.
The restaurant is furnished in traditional Japanese style, so you put your shoes into wooden capsule boxes before entering and have to sit at low tables. Thankfully, the spaces under each table is hollow so you don’t actually have to sit kneeling down. The service at Kani Doraku was good, despite us being so rude as to arrive just before closing time.
Though it also serves other types of crabs, Kani Doraku’s main is of course Japanese snow crabs. Snow crabs are perhaps the most common type of crab to Japan, though it is often mistakenly referred to as Hokkaido crabs in Singapore. The majority of Japanese snow crabs are caught between the seas north of the Hyogo and Fukui Prefectures. Thus, the reason why an Osakan shop has become nationally famous for crabs. The crabs at Kani Doraku were immensely fresh.
Feeling a little lavish, we each went with one of their seasonal course meals which cost about 6,000 yen each. The meal opened up with the freshest raw crabs any of us had ever had the chance to taste and slowly worked its way through various other dishes, all made with crab. Every treat we were brought was a new experience and much enjoyed.
The highlight for the meal was definitely the large crab legs provided to us raw to grill to one’s own liking. As recommended by the staff, these were simply passed over the grill lightly to sear the outsides and dipped into a sauce made from crab innards that was served to us on a mini-fondue pot. Regardless of whether you’re having one of the permanent menu sets or a seasonal set, the grilled crab meats seems to be common to many sets.
Accompanying the crab legs were some fresh greens to grill too. Afterwards were given some pieces of different types of crab sushi. They were really good too. We had seen some bento sushi boxes for sale outside fo the shop too. It seems you can get some of the sushi (at least those that keep) to go.
Despite the somewhat severe price, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Kani Doraku. So much that the rest would had been keen on paying it another visit sometime again. Every dollar was well spent for this experience. If you haven’t already given the popular chain a try, I would recommend at least visiting Kani Doraku once.
If the plastic displays here were any indication, Kani Doraku also offers some really attractive crab sushi bento boxes to take with you on the go. The prices, between 1,400 to 1,800 yen seriously give just about any Ekiben a run for their money and seems like a heavenly treat to take along with you for long shinkansen rides. Anyone has any experience with these? Will definitely want to give them a try in the future.
Kani Doraku Honten
6-18 Dotonbori Ichome
Chuo Ward, Osaka City
(Open 11 AM to 11 PM Daily)
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