2.01.2008

Rediscovering Takoyaki Balls

My first memory of this japanese snack was in the old Rustans supermarket in Makati. There was a kiosk beside the classic Yumyum Tree place that sold these "Samurai Balls" as it was called then. I looked forward to going to the grocery with my Mom because I knew that I would get to eat this after doing the shopping. The kiosk eventually closed and the whole new Rustans/Glorietta took over.
Just a little background on this, Takoyaki (literally fried or baked octopus) is a popular Japanese dumpling made of batter, diced octopus, tempura scraps (tenkasu), pickled ginger, konnyaku, and green onion, topped with okonomiyaki sauce, green laver (aonori), mayonnaise, and katsuobushi (fish shavings), originating from Osaka. Making takoyaki requires a takoyaki pan, a special frying pan made of cast iron with hemispherical molds. There is a similarly named dish called ikayaki but it is a broiled whole squid and bears no resemblance. "Yaki" is derived from "yaku" which simply means "to bake or grill" in the Japanese language, and can be found in the names of other Japanese cuisine items such as teriyaki.

Anyway, I've been craving for this snack for a long time but didn't know where to find it here in manila ( In Hong Kong this is everywhere - you can find this delicacy on the streets and alleys) until recently. The first one was in Robinsons Galleria where there is a strategically situated Takoyaki stand at ground floor level (food court area) right beside Jungle Tree Ice-cream. I got curious because a lot of people were in line that time (so I thought, this must probably be good!). Hence I took the bait and got in line. Hmm...the balls weren't something I'd rave about but it gave me nostalgic memories of my childhood days doing grocery on weekends. And just a few weeks ago, I discovered an even better place that sells Takoyaki. I found it in a Japanese mart in Pasay where I buy reasonably-priced Japanese ingredients. Turns out they sell this every Saturday only so I took advantage of the treat and got myself one full order (8 pieces for P60). Yum!

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