Takoyaki (たこ焼き), which literally translates to grilled octopus, refers to the savory dish of grilled balls of batter made with flour and eggs filled with octopus chunks and other ingredients like pickled ginger (beni shoga) and leftover fried tempura batter (tenkasu). Each takoyaki ball is approximately the size of a golf ball.
Typically made fresh in-store, the exterior of a takoyaki ball is a nice golden brown while the interior can be a touch molten. A single order of takoyaki typically contains about eight balls that are topped with shaved bonito flakes (katsuobushi), aonori seaweed flakes and drizzled with mayonnaise and takoyaki sauce.
Takoyaki originated and is particularly popular in Osaka. It is typically sold at specialized stands or small restaurants, and is also a favorite at festivals where one will likely encounter at least one takoyaki stand. Takoyaki is also a fun dish to make at home, and smaller takoyaki grill plates for home use are easily available at shops.
One of the appeals of takoyaki is watching how it is cooked on large takoyaki grill plates. As takoyaki are made on the spot, they are almost always piping hot, and diners should take care not to burn their tongues in their haste to eat. Instead of chopsticks, toothpicks or short bamboo skewers are provided to eat the takoyaki, and these wooden sticks can be used to poke the takoyaki.
Two attractions dedicated to takoyaki are the Takoyaki Park in Universal Citywalk Osaka, just outside the Universal Studios Japan and the Takoyaki Museum in Decks Tokyo Beach in Odaiba, Tokyo. Both places offer a collection of popular and well-known takoyaki shops from Osaka, from which diners can compare the different takoyaki varieties and flavors.
Similar in shape and ingredients, but not to be confused with takoyaki is akashiyaki, a local specialty of Akashi City, Hyogo Prefecture. Akashiyaki is similar to fluffy egg souffle balls with small octopus chunks, and the balls are dipped into hot dashi soup stock before eating. Each akashiyaki ball is approximately about two thirds the size of a golf ball, and a single serve usually contains about 10 to 20 balls.