Wednesday, July 7, 2010

japanese food: osaka specialties

I won't attempt to deny that there were a lot of Japanese foods that I did not expect to try. I never, ever thought that I could handle a ball of fried dough with a piece of octopus tentacle inside. I mean, the fried dough part sounds great, right? I just didn't know what I'd do once I got an octopus arm in my mouth. Turns out I'd chew it (for awhile) and love it.


Takoyaki are little lava-hot spheres (think half-cooked pancake balls) that burst open when you bite them, revealing a mildly fishy, quite chewy bit of octopus. They are topped with a barbecue-like sauce, then mayo, and typically katsuobushi (fish flake) and aonori (seaweed flake).

Takoyaki hail from Osaka, as do the gentlemen who prepared them inside this pink VW bus. Matt spotted this stand in Shimokitazawa and decided it should be the place for us to lose our takoyaki virginity. They were proud to have a couple of gaijin (foreigners) eating behind their stand.

And I do mean behind...

I think they had a great little set-up.

Possibly my very favorite food that I tried in Japan turned out to be a dish from Osaka. Okonomiyaki is a Japanese pancake that is similar to takoyaki in that it is topped with the same sauces and sprinkles, but is much easier to eat due to the absence of molten dough. Our friends in Tokyo took us to a great little place for our first experience with okonomiyaki.

First, mix your ingredients that include egg, cabbage, meat, and veggies...

Then fry it on the griddle in the center of your table...

"Sakura-yaki": shrimp, squid, pork, white onion, green onion, and mushrooms topped with a fried egg and bacon strips

And top with okonomiyaki sauce, mayo, katsuobushi, and aonori. Share with your friends!

pork & kimuchi okonomiyaki

I was such a fan of okonomiyaki, I may get brave enough to try it at home! I'll let you know how that turns out...

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