A classic dish from Kansai cuisine, takoyaki is one of Japan’s most unique street foods. These octopus balls are like bite-sized octopus dumplings. Textural and curious, each with a hidden piece of “tako” (octopus) inside, takoyaki was invented in 1935 by an Osaka street food vendor. It was inspired by “akashiyaki” from Hyogo Prefecture, a similar dish which included octopus balls in a soup. Today, Osaka is flooded with takoyaki stalls, where street vendors fry the octopus balls throughout the day on specialty cast iron pans. Made from a loose batter, “tako” octopus pieces, tempura puffs, green onions, and pickled ginger, takoyaki are poured into the special pan and grilled before being flipped and cooked until golden brown.. Piping hot off the grill, practice some patience before taking a bite, as the inside is still gooey and molten hot!
Greasy and comforting, these tiny takoyaki balls are surprisingly filling. Now available everywhere in Japan, they are usually served soft in Osaka and slightly crunchy in Tokyo. Takoyaki is also known as a typical festival food with specialty shops offering experimental toppings. Slathered with thickened sweet soy sauce and Japanese mayo, takoyaki are best topped off with some “katsuobushi” (dried bonito shavings), which wiggle in the heat of the takoyaki. Discover takoyaki during an Osaka food tour (grilled in front of your eyes), or taste some at night during an authentic bar crawl in Tokyo. Get hooked on this unusual street food during one of our takoyaki experiences, where you can learn to make it yourself in a takoyaki party cooking class.