More food! Takoyaki (たこ焼き) is a very popular and delicious street food made from mainly flour-based batter and octopus. It translates to “grilled octopus” and is definitely better than you might think. Octopus is not something that is usually on western menus, so I too was skeptical at first.
A bite-sized piece of octopus gets placed in the prepared batter and cooked from the outside. There are special Takoyaki pans for this that mold the batter into its round shape. When visiting Japanese festivals (祭, matsuri) or other events including street food, you will always find a Takoyaki stand. You can observe the staff while they’re preparing the dish, it’s quite fun to watch.
After the batter is cooked thoroughly from all sides, the same toppings that are used with Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き), namely Mayonnaise, dried seaweed (青のり, aonori) and bonito (かつお節, katsuobushi) are added on top.
The inside of a Takoyaki ball is very hot so I advise you to be careful when first eating it. Also, the texture of the octopus is something you might not be used to, but I promise it’s delicious!
Takoyaki hotspots and pricing
As already mentioned, it is primarily a street food or a side dish so you won’t really find many bigger stand-alone Takoyaki restaurants like you do for Okonomiyaki (which is often sold as street food as well by the way).
However, that means it’s easy to find on pretty much any festival all over Japan (日本). Still, Osaka (大阪) is a very prominent location for Takoyaki just as much as with Okonomiyaki. In Dotonbori specifically, there is even a Takoyaki museum where you can try to make Takoyaki yourself.
One order usually comes with 6 to 8 balls and ranges between 500-800 Yen (4,03€/$4.55-6,45€/$7.27; exchange rate as of May 2019) depending on quantity and type. The different types often just have different toppings, e.g. cheese or a different sauce.
Takoyaki is a popular street food that is particularly popular in Osaka but available all over Japan. A personal recommendation of mine is the small Takoyaki place opposite of Harajuku (原宿) Station’s exit in Tokyo (東京). Once you leave the station, it’s just a couple meters on the other side of the street. Grab some octopus balls and make your way to the nearby Yoyogi Park (代々木公園), it’s worth it!
When visiting Japanese festivals, you may find it hard to choose what to eat with all the amazing street food available. Now you know that these funny looking batter balls are actually worth trying!
That’s it for Takoyaki, I hope you enjoyed it!
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See you there!