Takoyaki: A Specialty of Osaka たこ焼
Les takoyaki, la street-food à la japonaise
Nés à Osaka, les takoyaki se dégustent la plupart du temps sur le pouce, pour le plus grand bonheur des Japonais et des touristes. Moins connus que les illustres spécialités que sont les sushis et les ramens, les takoyaki n'en demeurent pas moins un emblème culinaire au Japon.
What is Takoyaki?
Takoyaki are small dumplings made of a savory pancake like batter (eggs, flour and water), containing a small piece of octopus. For the name, the Japanese have kept it simple: "takoyaki" means "grilled octopus". Following the same principle as the imagawayaki or the taiyaki, other popular treats in Japan, takoyaki are grilled in hemispherical molds.
Originally from the city of Osaka, this is the best place to taste them. They are generally sold on Yatai stalls. The very popular district of Dotonburi is an ideal place to go to try these foods. Some Japanese people even indulge in the yatai tour to find the best takoyaki of the evening!
- Read more: Dotonburi
How to eat Takoyaki?
Takoyaki are not usually a meal in itself, but rather a snack eaten on the go, served in a small cardboard tray in a set of four, six, eight or more. Takoyaki are not generally eaten with chopsticks but with toothpicks. They are almost always served with aonori seaweed and dried bonito fish flakes sprinkled on top, with mayonnaise and/or okonomiyaki sauce, another typical dish of Osaka. The Japanese will eat them fresh off the hot plate (try at your peril, since the center can be extremely hot!). Instead of rushing to eat these, we suggest you take a moment to admire the dance of the bonito shavings waving about on the hot food.
- Also read: Okonomyaki
Although they are almost always sold at yatai, street stands, takoyaki can also be served in restaurants, where they are often larger and contain a small whole octopus (idaka).
Another spectacle to admire is the talented chefs that prepare the takoyaki faster than seems possible, which you can find them doing at the festivals, flea markets and tourist sites where they set up their stands.
Here's a glimpse of how these famous octopus balls are made:
Takoyaki recipe to make at home
Where to eat Takoyaki in Japan? Here are the best places to eat Takoyaki in Osaka!
When visiting Japan, takoyaki is thus an excellent solution for eating on the go cheaply, while discovering this delicious Japanese specialty.
So we've put together a small selection of the best places to eat takoyaki in Osaka, but also in Tokyo.
Arguably the most popular address among residents of Osaka. Here the takoyaki are sold as in trays of 10. Located in the heart of Amerika-mura, the trendy American district of the city, this shop allows you to test all kinds of takoyaki, with many variations of sauces, cheese, or in a wafer-like a taco. Nearby, the Wanaka restaurant is also a good alternative if Kogaryu is very busy.
Address: 2-18-4 Nishishinsaibashi Chuo-ku, Osaka
Opening hours: open every day from 10:30 a.m to 8:30 p.m.
In the Umeda district, to the north of the city, the Hanadako restaurant brings everyone together. Renowned for their takoyaki covered with a mountain of spring onion (negi), they are also known to cook their takoyaki at very high temperatures, which makes crunchy dumplings with a gooey filling.
Address: 9-16 Kakudacho, Kita-ku, Osaka
Opening hours: Open daily from 10 a.m to 11 p.m.
The best places to eat Takoyaki in Tokyo
In the heart of the trendy Harajuku district, Gindaco Takoyaki (which is also a chain) is undoubtedly one of the best places to get takoyaki in the capital. Will spot the restaurant by the queue of foodies, just opposite the station. The restaurant is open every day from 11 a.m to 10 p.m without closing.
Address: Toshikazu Bldg. 1-2F, 1-14-24 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
In a completely different district of the capital, in Ginza, the Ginza Fukuyoshi restaurant allows you to sit down and taste the traditional takoyaki, accompanied by a beer. Here they add dashi (fish broth) into the dough, which gives a fuller flavor to the takoyaki. Open from 2 p.m to 11:30 p.m except for Sunday.
Address: 3-12-19, Ginza, Chuo 104-0061, Tokyo