What is Takoyaki?

Takoyaki (octopus balls): Japanese street food guide

What is Takoyaki?

What pops into your mind when thinking about Japanese street food? Some of the most popular choices may include Yakisoba, Yakitori, and Okonomiyaki. And of course, there’s also the main theme of this article, Takoyaki.

If you go to a Japanese matsuri, firework festival, or even sporting events, you will most likely find at least one Takoyaki stand. You can also find these delicious octopus balls at takoyaki shops which are commonly seen in crowded cities across Japan.

In this article, I will show you all you need to know about takoyaki: what it is, where you can find them, and even how you can prepare them at your home.

*Please note that this article contains affiliate links.

What is Takoyaki?

First of all, what is Takoyaki (たこ焼き)? Takoyaki is a traditional Japanese street food that consists of small, grilled balls made of soft dough with pieces of octopus meat at the center.

Although you can find these octopus balls pretty much anywhere across Japan, you will see a noticeable concentration of these stands in Osaka. If you get a chance to visit Osaka, you will see takoyaki shops pretty much everywhere in the city.

Because it is such a convenient food, it became one of the “must-have” food stands at festivals and sporting events alongside Yakisoba and Okonomiyaki. These takoyaki stands will mostly be run by the locals, as opposed to shop chains.

History of Takoyaki

This snack-type food was first invented in 1935 in Osaka. It was an invention made by mixing the idea of “Chobo yaki” and “Akashi yaki” which are already existing traditional foods in that area.

It immediately became popular for its convenience in size which makes it easy to take out and eat outdoors. It didn’t take long before takoyaki was called one of the local foods that represent Osaka.

What is inside of Takoyaki?

You will be surprised at how easy it is to make Takoyaki.

The soft dough is made of flour, egg, water, and milk. For the inside, there can be so many different things you can include, but the one thing it cannot miss is the octopus meat. Just so you know, Tako from Takoyaki literally means “octopus”. Other than octopus meat, you can add sliced ginger and Tenkasu which is like tempura bits.

Then, for topping, usually you will use savory takoyaki sauce, aonori (dried seaweed), and Katsuobushi (dried‐bonito shavings).

What does Takoyaki taste like?

Takoyaki is soft-textured with a savory taste. A well-prepared takoyaki will be slightly crispy on the outside while being slightly liquidy on the inside. You need to be careful when you have that first bite since it will usually be pretty hot inside.

If the octopus meat inside is large, then you can consider that shop to be a good one!

Where to eat Takoyaki in Japan

Takoyaki can be found in either takoyaki shops or at takoyaki stands at festivals or other outdoor events.

Takoyaki balls are usually somewhere between 3 to 5 cm in diameter and come in sets of 6 or 8 balls per order. The most traditional way of eating is with a savory takoyaki sauce and aonori (dried seaweed) and Katsuobushi (dried‐bonito shavings).

At takoyaki stands in festivals, you might only have this one option or maybe a couple of options. However, if you go to a takoyaki shop, you will be pleasantly surprised at the variety of flavors, toppings, and sauces that they offer.

As I previously mentioned, Takoyaki shops are especially found in Osaka. Here is where you will find a wide variety of toppings and sauces as well.

▶︎Check out the best Takoyaki shops in Osaka!

By the way, the largest Takoyaki shop chain is called Gindaco. You can find this shop pretty much anywhere across Japan. Check out the following link for more info.

Cooking Takoyaki at home

takoyaki at home
Iris Ohyama Takoyaki Grill Pan

Just as I mentioned, takoyaki is pretty easy to make. You can find takoyaki-making machines at reasonable prices to make your own takoyaki at the commodity of your home.

In Japan, friends and family gather to do “Takoyaki Party” where they just prepare a ton of takoyaki at once. It is especially popular among students since this doesn’t cost that much.

If you’re interested in the takoyaki maker of the image above, you can check it out from the following link.

▶︎Click here for more details about this Takoyaki maker now!

▽Here is the complete guide to learn Best Traditional Japanese Dishes!▽

I hope you enjoyed this article. If you liked this article and want to know more about Japanese food, make sure to also check out our other articles!

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Written by

Born and raised in Costa Rica, I started living in Tokyo from college. I love traveling within Japan & around the world. Since I wasn’t born in Japan, I know the cultural impact that you can get when visiting Japan for the first time and what you might be worried about before your trip. And I’ve lived long enough to somewhat understand the nuances of the Japanese culture that make this country such an attractive place to visit. Hopefully I can provide to you both the information you’re looking for and the information you didn’t know you needed to know.