Delicious Japanese Dishes: Takoyaki

Takoyaki… little balls of joy! A common sight at any matsuri (Japanese festival), takoyaki are one of the best street foods in Japan. Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, these octopus balls are made simply of batter, boiled octopus, green onions and tempura bits. A very delicious snack.

Like okonomiyaki, takoyaki originated in Osaka. One of the biggest cities in Japan, Osaka is known to be a little rough around the edges, and its people are a bit more rowdy and straightforward then those from other parts of the country. Takoyaki—being something you commonly eat standing, usually with a glass of beer or whiskey, and often late at night—definitely reflects the area it’s from. Surprisingly, takoyaki has only been around in its current form since the 1930s. It was created by a street vendor as a variation to akashiyaki, a round egg-based dumpling from Hyogo.

The flour-based takoyaki quickly became a popular dish, and these days you’ll not only see it at festivals, but countless permanent locations all over the country. The most famous place to get your takoyaki fix is the chain store, Gindaco. There are around 100 branches in Tokyo alone.

I have to admit when I first came to Japan, just the idea of octopus balls put me off. I was never much of a seafood fan, and octopus wasn’t something I had ever eaten before. All I could think about were their tentacles. One day a friend bought some takoyaki from a local shop. I tried one, and as soon as I bit into it, I realised what the fuss was all about. The freshly made balls were so hot, but the sauces and toppings mixed with the cooked batter were just too delicious for words! The piece of octopus inside was surprisingly soft and small enough that it wasn’t difficult to chew. I loved it so much I went and got my own. And I’ve been hooked ever since!

Takoyaki銀だこ Gindaco (chain)

Takoyakiたこ坊 Takobo (Miyanosaka)

Takoyakiラヂオ焼き Rajioyaki (Sangenjaya)

Toppings

For a standard takoyaki order, the chef will brush a thin layer of takoyaki sauce over the top. Then he’ll add mayonnaise, powdered seaweed called aonori and lastly bonito flakes called katsuobushi. I love when the bonito flakes dance around like they’re alive!

Most shops also offer their own original take on takoyaki. Some of the more common non-standard toppings are salt, cheese, pickled ginger, ponzu citrus sauce, soy sauce, green onions, lemon, coriander, teriyaki sauce and even truffle sauce.

Takoyakiくれおーる Creo-ru (Shibuya)

TakoyakiTakoyaki

Change It Up

For those who don’t like octopus, there are basically no limits to what you can replace it with. It’s up to your imagination…

My favourite? Chocolate! One of the best memories I have of making takoyaki myself is a takoyaki party a colleague held in the teacher’s lounge at school. Instead of using octopus, we popped little square blocks of chocolate in the middle of the batter. The result was amazing. Oozy chocolate takoyaki!

takoyaki pan

For a more daring variation, a popular game to play with friends is ‘takoyaki roulette’. You make the takoyaki as usual, except one of the balls gets filled with wasabi, mustard, natto, miso paste or whatever grosses you out the most. When the takoyaki are ready, it’s impossible to tell which is the odd one out. You and your friends take turns choosing and eating one—it’s hilarious watching everyone squirm, and even funnier when inevitably that one person panics then runs to the kitchen sink!

Would you be game to play takoyaki roulette?! What is the strangest food you’ve ever had?

Make sure you check out my previous post on Delicious Japanese Dishes: Tempura.

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32 thoughts on “Delicious Japanese Dishes: Takoyaki

    1. Glad to have been the one to introduce you to takoyaki! You should definitely give it a go one day. You might find it at an international food festival or something like that :)

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  1. The last time I went to the sink was to wash up !!!!
    What are you getting up to Celia?
    Actually this dish makes my baked beans on toast seem gross.

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    1. I hope this is better than baked beans on toast!! haha. One of the best things about takoyaki is the variety of fillings and toppings… keeps things interesting :)

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  2. Your characterisation of Osaka as rougher around the edges is interesting and pretty much how it presented to me. I certainly remember all the Takoyaki stands and I’d go for one out of three of your options. I’m not an octopus fan and absolutely no way would I play the roulette version, but your chocolate version sounds like a winner :).

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    1. I read there’s over 600 takoyaki stands/stores in Osaka! Incredible.
      And yes – there’s no way I’d play takoyaki roulette either… I cannot stand even the smell of wasabi let alone the taste!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great and delicious post. I like to think I can try anything at least once. My husband, a Marine Veteran was stationed in Japan for about 3 years, I’m going to ask him if he’s tried this dish. He’s a foodie! 😊

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      1. He’s at the office now. But he didn’t get to try them. He was in Camp Fuji for about 6 to 7 months and then from there he went somewhere else, can’t recall right now. But he loved his stay in Japan.

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  4. Thank you for sharing! I always love your posts! Very beautiful food! My toddler eats octopus and loves it! 😂💜 I have a blog tea party on the 3rd and I’m encouraging my blog readers to drop their link off on my posts. Would you care to share your world with us?

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  5. たこ焼きパーティー用のたこ焼き電気器具があるのを初めて知りました。たこ焼きルーレットはとても楽しそうですが、もしワサビの入ったたこ焼きを口にしたら大変なことになりますね。歯ごたえのするゆでだこの料理はすきですが、タコの頭がついたのは苦手です。私はスルメイカのほうがすきです。

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    1. タコの頭が好きじゃないですね。不思議な動物ですね。私はタコの足をスーパーでよく見るけど、いつも気持ち悪い〜って感じます。(笑)たこ焼きを家で作るために一回しか買ったことがないです。

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      1. たこ焼きルーレットをするパーティーのために、タコの足を買ったのですか。家で作ったたこ焼きはどうでしたか。

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        1. 1回目に作ったたこ焼きは大失敗でした!ひっくり返すのが難しかったからです。>_< たこ焼きルーレットは無理〜 なのでそのゲームを決してやりませんよ!

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  6. I love octopus balls and used to eat them all the time when I was in Singapore. It’s harder to get them here in Australia, and more pricey too. I have heard of the different flavoured ones, and I really like cheese sauce to go with it 😊

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    1. Are they called takoyaki in Singapore, too? I don’t recall ever seeing them in Australia… I think most Aussies wouldn’t like the idea of octopus. One of the takoyaki chefs I talked to said he’s started doing meat fillings and visits food festivals around the world. I think that would go down pretty well in Australia… and the cheese ones too :)

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  7. My first time having takoyaki was more than ten years ago in Bandung, Indonesia’s fourth most-populous city where I spent my college years. Like you said, the ‘dancing’ bonito flakes was quite a spectacle, and as soon as I took a bite I was instantly hooked. It was really nice to finally try it in the city where it originated from — this was from my trip to Japan back in October 2016.

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    1. It sounds like takoyaki is popular in many Asian countries. Did you notice any difference between the takoyaki in Indonesia and Osaka? A lot of my friends who visit Japan say they love sushi in their home country, but having it here is a completely different experience. I felt the same when I had lasagna in Italy — it’s always really cool to eat food in the country that created it!

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      1. Actually they look pretty much the same both in Indonesia and Japan, although the ones I had in Osaka were much tastier than all the takoyaki that I’ve had in my home country. Another dish that is a lot more satisfying in its place of origin is dim sum. Despite the plethora of dim sum restaurants in Jakarta, none of them beats the ones in Hong Kong.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. My kids and I love takoyaki…and we live in Tokyo too, so I very much agree with everything you posted about takoyaki! I’ve started reading your posts and I’m quite loving your blog. It made me realize how much I am missing by just working and not going around Tokyo. I am your new follower!

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    1. Great to meet a fellow Tokyo resident! :) Yeah, it’s easy to get stuck in the home-work-home routine. But it’s so rewarding to break out of it if you can. Hope you get some good ideas on this blog!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I was skeptical at first too, but takoyaki really is so tasty and one of my favourite things to eat! There’s usually only one small piece of octopus in each ball, so you hardly even notice it actually.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Delicious Japanese Dishes: Takoyaki — Celia in Tokyo – SEO

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