Tenma is one of the best spots in Osaka for food and drink, especially street eats. Japan’s longest shōtengai (indoor arcade) bisects this eating area, along which there are dozens of restaurants and stalls, serving local savory treats. But get off the main drag and there’s even more to offer. A word of warning, each unit of alcohol consumed multiplies the chance of getting lost in the myriad alleyways. Before getting too lost, try to find Wai Tan Hong Lu Deng, a small and tatty shop — which gets especially cold on winter nights — that serves Chinese dumplings.
The kitchen stands on one side of the narrow thoroughfare, with tables covered in vinyl tablecloths on the other side.
The dumplings run the gamut from petit steamed shoronpo to crispy gyōza heavyweights that will test your chopstick dexterity. They all contain a delicious and juicy mix of meat, ginger, garlic and chives. The shoronpo are made Shanghai style, the originator of the venerable dumpling, the staff hail from all parts of China.
There are two other branches of this restaurant in Osaka, both indoor, and while they’re undoubtedly a bit warmer, they lack the buzz and immediacy of shouting orders across the street while waiting for piping hot dumplings to be ferried back.
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