Takoyaki: Japanese Octopus Balls
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Ask anyone what their favorite Japanese dumplings are, and they’ll probably reply with “sushi” or “gyoza”. Lately, however, another kind of Japanese dumpling has been gaining popularity across the Metro. Takoyaki, which literally translates to fried octopus, is usually one among many munchies in select Japanese restaurants, but only recently has there been food stalls with takoyaki as the sole star of their menu. I doubt that the takoyaki served in Manila is made out of real octopus (I’m guessing they use squid instead) but nonetheless, I enjoy the firm texture, the chewy squid/octopus meat, and the tasty sauce coating the dumplings. Here three takoyaki establishments I’ve tried so far.
Takoyashi is a mall stall located at the third level of Vmall and other Robinsons’ Mall branches. An order of takoyashi contains 4 pieces and costs 35 pesos.
The good: Takoyashi’s takoyaki balls are the largest among the three other establishments I’ve tried.
The bad: The takoyaki itself was starchy and bland. And this is a personal preference, but I think mayonnaise tastes weird with takoyaki.
The verdict: Among the three takoyaki establishments, Takoyashi is the one I liked the least. The dumplings itself didn’t taste like much, and the sauce wasn’t even good enough to disguise that fact.
Kuya Chito’s Takuyako
I like how this takoyaki stall was Filipinized, in terms of its branding. Kuya Chito’s Takuyako can be found at Robinsons’ Malls; the booth photographed above is the branch at Robinson’s Metro East, second level. An order of takoyaki costs 24 pesos for 4 pieces.
The good: Kuya Chito placed a unique twist to takoyaki. You have the option to top your dumplings with shredded pork, chicken, or fish at no extra cost. You can also choose between a spicy sauce or a sweet sauce.
The bad: There are two things about Takuyako that I didn’t like. First was that the takoyaki balls were really mooshy – take one bite and the whole thing falls apart. The second is that most of it is made out of strings of cabbage. There was hardly any squid meat in the balls.
The verdict: Kuya Chito’s Takuyako tastes okay with the fish flakes, but I don’t like the gooey texture and the vegetables.
Samurai Foods was actually where I learned about the awesomeness that is takoyaki. They used to have a stall at the old Makati South Supermarket, as well as the cafeteria of my university. Today, you can find them at the fast food section outside SM Megamall supermarkets. Samurai Foods’ takoyaki costs 29 pesos for 4 pieces.
The good: Samurai Foods’ takoyaki is simply perfect. The balls are firm and tasty, and there are enough squid chunks for you to chew on. But I think the real secret to Samurai Foods’ takoyaki is their tangy red sauce, which no other takoyaki establishment has been able to replicate.
The bad: The takoyaki balls are too small for my liking. I’m usually bitin with just one order. Also, I hate eating outside the SM Supermarket – it’s crowded, noisy, and uncomfortable.
The verdict: Definitely the best takoyaki I’ve had to date. I wish they were located in the less crowded areas of Megamall, but they’re so good that I’d tolerate the lack of seats and the noise from the nearby Magic Sing booth for a few minutes of takoyaki goodness.
Do you have a favorite Takoyaki Stall? Where are they located? Please share.