Great balls of squid, it’s Takoyaki!


Takoyaki was for a period of time extremely popular in Singapore but seems to have died a natural death in recent years as a whole craze of other Japanese snacks took over, including the Pablo Cheese Tart. There are still a few takoyaki stalls around in the usual shopping centre basements but one of these chains (which I suspect is a local outfit and whose name I shall not mention) just brings this happy snack to a whole new level of….depressing.

The odd thing is, takoyaki sold in Singapore doesn’t seem to have any other condiments other than Worcestershire sauce and mayonnaise because in Japan, there’s a lot of other variations, and the one I particularly love is with lots of fresh crunchy negi (chopped spring onions). Whoever came up with it is a genius because seriously, how on earth can you feel bad ingesting all that starch and mayo when there’s plenty of veggies to neutralise the cholesterol? 😛

If you’re in Osaka and walking down the touristy stretch along Dotonbori, you’d be sure to chance across a Takoyaki or Okonomiyaki stall every 5 minutes or so, because those 2 after all, are the city’s most well-known street grub. One of the more popular outlets with the locals however is a nondescript hole-in-the-wall joint called Hanadako located near the hotel bus terminals at the Osaka Station. The queue can get pretty long even during off-peak hours (I queued for almost half an hour at around 3 pm) and by the time you get to the front of the queue, it’s not just enough to get the smallest portion to try it, because after all, everyone else is getting bigger portions!

The takoyaki balls came in a boat-like paper container and when I bit into its slightly crispy exterior, what I experienced was an explosive mix of scaldingly hot and gooey taste sensations, especially with the savoury sauces, cooked squid and fried pancake all coming altogether. But what really was the bomb was the generous amount of negi and mayo they slathered on top of the balls. These balls were seriously drowning in a sea of mayo and negi that I actually had an epiphany of imaginary manga friends clamouring to have a taste of it as well. And as you gently part the green sea of onions with your chopsticks to squish at one, it’s as if the little guys were screaming “WIZARD YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”

Yeah, it was seriously that good.


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