Iconic food of Osaka? Things you’d want to know about 551 Horai

By YamamotoChika

Iconic food of Osaka? Things you’d want to know about 551 Horai

What differences are there among Chinese foods in Japan?

Though Japan is a geographic neighbor of China, Japanese have developed  Chinese foods considerably different from traditional mainland dishes. In Japan, the Chinese characters 中華料理 (chuu_ka_ryori) typically describe Japanese-style Chinese cuisine, whereas traditional Chinese cuisine is written 中国料理 (chuu_goku_ryori).

The origin of the 551 Horai name is not widely known even to the Japanese.

When they started the restaurant, their phone number ended at 551, and that rhymes with kokoichi, which in Japanese means this place is the best. That’s how they got their 551 Horai name. (This origin story is similar to that of a popular curry chain in Japan, COCO ICHIBANYA.) The name Horai, especially in Chinese characters, is difficult to memorize by itself, so they wanted to become the number one place for those foods and named it 551 Horai.


Everyone Japanese knows this local chain in the Kansai area.

The Chinese food chain 551 Horai is based in Osaka, with 60 locations across the Kansai area. It’s even considered as an iconic food in Osaka, with popular steamed items such as nikuman, shumai, gyoza, and chimaki. Every item is made fresh on location, and they are so popular that many Japanese who visit Osaka get them as souvenirs. However, in order to keep everything fresh, there are no restaurants outside of the Kanto area.

Secret trick #1: Get the freshest food at dine-in restaurants.
Are you a person who wants the freshest out of the kitchen? There are a few 551 Horai shops where you can dine in. You’re lucky to find this article, because not even many Japanese know about this. Check out the list below for current options.

Here are a few links to dine-in restaurants with easy access from popular tourist areas (last checked Oct 2023):

  1. Main shop
  2. Daimaru Shinsaibashi
  3. Umeda Hanshinbaru-Yokocho
  4. arde! Shin-Osaka
  5. Kyoto Takashimaya
  6. Osaka/Itami Airport (not Kansai International Airport)


Nikuman, or steamed pork buns, can be bought at the Shin-Osaka bullet train station. Usually the etiquette in Japanese trains is that you do not eat strong smelling food, even though eating and drinking are allowed. Nikuman smell great, but tend to smell strong, especially when they're fresh. So it's better too avoid eating them in the train.

Secret trick #2: How to buy 551 Horai food outside of Osaka

There are certain occasions when you can buy 551 Horai food elsewhere, such as at seasonal pop-up shops. The problem is, everyone wants to get it there when they open. Sometimes they're so popular there’s a 6-hour wait to get your food.

If you're not a fan of waiting for 6 hours, it may be quicker to take a bullet train to Osaka and back from Tokyo, 2.5 hours each way. Some Japanese people enjoy the act of waiting in line to get something valuable they want.

Here’s where you can check whther there are any events around your area.


Secret trick #3: Thinking of souvenirs? Get some frozen!

Many customers decide to take out 551 Horai foods to enjoy. However, freshly made shumai and nikuman have short expiration times. To make them a little more accessible to everyone, some stores have frozen food sales so you can enjoy these treats up to 5 days later if you keep them in a fridge.


Here’s a short list of shops with frozen food corners (checked Oct 2023):

  1. 551 Horai JR Osaka Station
  2. Shin Osaka Station (inside the ticket gate for bullet train)
  3. Arde! Shin-Osaka
  4. Osaka/Itami Airport (not Kansai International Airport)
  5. Otsu SA Eastbound
  6. Eki Marché Shin-Osaka (Inside the train ticket gate)
  7. Eki Marché Shin-Osaka

Summer treats: 551 Horai ice cream

Though for a lot of Japanese nikuman are  the most iconic food from 551 Horai, locals also love their ice cream. Milk, sweet beans, chocolate, fruits, matcha, and pineapple are the most popular flavors, and they only cost around 140 yen per serving! If you find a 551 Horai frozen food corner in the summer, try their ice cream. You’ll have a lot of options to choose from.

We hope you enjoyed this guide to get the most out of 551 Horai. If you’re planning to visit Osaka anytime soon, don’t miss 551 Horai. One way or another, explore its special Chinese-style foods that locals love.