Kuma Kafe owner Paul Whitton first came to Osaka as an actor for Universal Studios Japan, taking on the title role of the Terminator at the park’s live T2 3-D: Battle Across Time show. These days, the ripped chef runs a café stuffed with teddy bears. (You can’t make this stuff up.) The popular lunch spot is located across the street from Osaka’s world-class Kaiyukan aquarium, making it the perfect one-two punch in a touristy area mostly bereft of decent restaurants.
Whitton’s food screams “best of the West” (pizza, pasta, pancakes, hot dogs), but don’t feel guilty ordering it. There are just as many locals in Kuma Kafe as there are foreigners, happily tucking into juicy beef burgers stacked high with fried eggs and fans of avocado. (Bonus points for the scratch-made buns.) Besides, Whitton rules. Like many Aussies, he is a token extrovert—warm and welcoming of everyone who walks through his teddy-flanked door. He’s a big appreciator of Japanese culture, having taught himself to read and write Kanji over the last decade, and he’s eager to connect with anyone who appreciates a little bear-themed latte art (which, it appears, is most of Japan).
4 Chome-4-15 Chikko, Minato-ku, Osaka, Japan; +81-6-6572-2450.