Some yatai invent new ways to serve takoyaki, with various options for flavors and toppings.
Yatai at festivals can be very eye-catching, and are often decorated with octopuses!
Ready to eat!
In Dotonburi in Osaka you can find lots of takoyaki-inspired souvenirs!
Grilled octopus balls
Osaka is known for its many delicious dishes and street foods, the most famous undoubtedly being takoyaki!
Takoyaki are small dumplings made of a kind of like pancake batter, 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.
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.
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).
The Japanese will eat them fresh off the hot plate (try at your peril, since the centre can be extremely hot!). But instead of rushing it, take a moment to admire the dance of the bonito shavings waving about on the hot food.
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:
Made in Osaka
The dish originates from Osaka, and it is also the best place to taste them. The lively neighbourhood of dotonburi is a particularly good place to start for tasting this street food. Some Japanese even indulge in yatai tours to learn about the best takoyaki in the area!