We love takoyaki (Japanese octopus duplings), and the best ones we’ve encountered are in Osaka, of course, given that Osaka is known as ‘The kitchen of Japan’ with its people’s passion for food, and thus chefs in even the simplist of restaurants, izakayas (Japanese gastro pubs) and home kitchens alike put a lot of effort into producing top quality mouthfuls.
One of our favourite date-night destinations in Osaka is a restaurant called Tako Tako King (picture below).
Typically for Osaka bars and izakayas, they have friendly and rather loud staff, good sake and umeshu (plum wine), kind of drinkable white wine (white wine in a Japanese izakaya is as good as sake would be in an English pub, but at least in Tako Tako King they serve wine!) and really good takoyaki.
And last night, when one of my old students babysat for the evening, Tako Tako King was where my husband and I headed, and ordered a whopping 10 takoyaki balls with barbeque-type takoyaki sauce and 10 with just salt. Many people have a preference for one or the other, or for vinegar/ponzu takoyaki. I think bbq sauce and salt are equally delicious, but would not necessarily go for vinegar takoyaki – as my white wine was already vinegary enough! (I need to remember to order umeshu).
But outside date nights, Dotonbori restaurant street is probably the best known place in Osaka for having takoyaki with its a multitude of takoyaki vendors and their expert takoyaki makers (see video below).
The guys in the video above make the use of those sticks look so easy, but I can tell you for free that it’s not! The first day back in Osaka, we went to a Japanese friends’ house for a takoyaki party and got to try turning the dumplings around with the sticks in the takoyaki pan.
I don’t know if it was the jetlag that made our fine motor movements and thus dumpling turning look as elegant as Donald Trump giving an intellectual speech or whether it really is very tricky to roll little balls of dough around with a long toothpick. Furthermore, I don’t know if it was the jetlag or the exhaustion from turning his takoyaki balls around, but my husband had to take a little nap halfway through the afternoon.
We love takoyaki so much that for the past couple of weeks, we’ve been searching for an electric takoyaki pan in several stores in Osaka, but haven’t found one. Not because there aren’t any takoyaki pans around – there are hundreds! – but they all are for the Japanese voltage (110V) which is different from England (240V). This difference in the electric voltage already resulted in our Japanese rice cooker suffering fatal injuries on arrival to England (read about it here), so, we are now careful not to repeat our non-electrician (or common sense!) mistake with a takoyaki pan. I assume what we have to do is to get a cast iron takoyaki frying pan and make our takoyaki back home the traditional way.
In any case, I have already bought several bags of takoyaki batter mix, tempura pieces, pickled ginger, seaweed, katsuobushi (dried tuna flakes) and takoyaki sauce to throw our own little takoyaki party/parties in England – anyone up for it?