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Kukuru Doutonbori

Crazy for Takoyaki Balls (Octopus Balls)
Before I even knew about Japanese food, I've tasted takoyaki balls at one of the supermarket stalls back home when I was a kid. I would see them cook the little balls in a big iron pan with the mold for the balls and the smell of newly cooked takoyaki balls fill the hallways. Little did I know that the wheat-flour based balls were supposedly filled with octopus (tako). But then again, those I tried weren't that authentic. Octopus wasn't in big supply in our country.

So then years ago, I tried my first takoyaki, in Japan and in Osaka itself, where it was first popularized, where a street vendor named Tomekichi Endo is credited with its invention in 1935. Wow! It tasted really flavorful and one can actually find octopus bits.

This trip, I bought a takoyaki making set from the famous store in Dotonburi and it included everything from the pan to the flour and toppings. Just have to find some octopus back home to make my own takoyaki balls. Apparently, the kit includes some of the crunchy tempura flour bits, green onion and those pink pickled ginger. Then the balls are glazed with a sauce made of mayonnaise and something like Worchestershire sauce. Finally, topped with shavings of bonito fish which actually looks like thin brown tissue :-)

You can eat at the restaurant or just buy from the stand right in front, but be prepared for a queue. Takoyaki Ball stalls are also found in many places in Japan including rest stops.