Nara + Takoyaki Tour in Osaka

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After the temple, we didn’t spend too much time in Nara and headed back to Osaka to eat their famous takoyaki. Takoyaki is a popular dumpling made with wheat batter, chopped octopus and onions. It’s usually topped with a thick, brown Worcestershire-like sauce called okonomiyaki (more on that later) sauce, mayonnaise, fish shavings and green seaweed.

The very first time I had takoyaki was during my first trip to Japan 7 years ago. I remember the waitress brought it to our table and the fish shavings were strange to me. The shavings are paper thin and “dance” while they absorb liquid and slowly melt in the heat. It was odd to see something moving, not knowing if it was alive. Now, I fully enjoy watching the shavings settle into place.

We ended up in Ame-mura or “American Village,” a little neighborhood known for its fashionable youth. There were numerous takoyaki stands and It was shocking to see how affordable they were. For six dumplings, the average price was $3. They’re made fresh toowhat a bargain! Since there were so many different stands and its affordable price, we decided to not only try one place, but walk around and try different ones.

The first one we tried was a stand that’s been established since 1963. The unique thing about this stand is you can have your takoyaki sandwiched between two osembe (rice) crackers. The guy immediately made our order in the essential takoyaki equipmenta cast iron pan with half-spherical molds. He poured batter into the molds and within a few minutes, the batter created a soft crust. He then added the octopus and started flipping with long sticks until a perfect dumpling was formed and ready to eat.

I loved the contrast of the thin, crispy cracker with the soft, creamy takoyaki and mayonnaise. It was under a dollar too! This is such an affordable snack. I’d definitely be able to eat this all the time if it was available in the states.

The takoyaki tour continued at an even smaller stand. These guys were quick and efficient with their assembly line. We ordered two types, original and green onion. We took our hot takoyaki to a park across the street and enjoyed our food in the shade. It was a great setting delicious food and crisp air with its perfect temperature.

The original takoyaki was as good as I thought it’d be. It was smothered in the sweet and savory brown sauce, mayonnaise, tons of fish shavings and green seaweed. The mixture of the brown sauce and mayonnaise makes the dumpling creamier and delicious. The ball itself was fresh and had the appropriate ratio of octopus to batter. So good.

Green onion takoyaki. They don’t mess around. When you order green onion, you get a lot of green onion. I’m not a huge fan of green onion (don’t know why we got this one), but it was still very good. Eating the chopped onion with brown sauce and mayonnaise combination was even tasty as is.

We were pretty full by the time we finished the last dumpling. With only two stands, it didn’t seem like much of a “tour.” Also knowing that the chance to be in Osaka, eating fresh takoyaki again would be rare, I ignored my waistline and went to another stand.

This one was a little bit pricier compared to the others (but still cheap) and known for interesting toppings. We tried the teritama, teriyaki flavored takoyaki with egg. Instead of the okonomiyaki sauce, they smothered it with teriyaki sauce (a little bit saltier) and topped with scrambled egg. It was like an egg salad on top, since there was so much mayonnaise mixed in.

The flavor was explosive and my brain was trying to comprehend the different flavors. The teritama was good, but I was too stuffed to fully enjoy it.

Out of the four types of takoyaki, my favorite would have to be the osembe and then original. I don’t need anything too fancy, original takoyaki is already a complex and flavorful snack.

One year ago: Chelada?

 

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This entry was posted on November 13, 2010 at 12:22 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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