I have already written a little bit about Odaiba in my article “Bye bye Gumdam(RX-78-2)”. Odaiba is one of the famous shopping areas in Tokyo. There are four shopping malls, and each mall has different characters. I would like to write about the shopping malls in Odaiba someday, but let me tell you about a unique place called Takoyaki museum located in the shopping mall called DECKS Tokyo Beach today.
What is Takoyaki? Tako = octopus, yaki (yaku) = grill/bake
Takoyaki is a ball-shaped food made of a wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a special molded pan. The main ingredients are flour, broth, egg, octopus, chopped green onion, pickled ginger, and tenkasu (tempura scraps). It is usually served with takoyaki sauce, mayonnaise, powdered green seaweed, and dried bonito flakes. (Takoyaki sauce is similar to Worcestershire sauce, but I think takoyaki sauce is thicker and sweeter.) There are many variations for sauce and toppings except the above combination.
It is said that Takoyaki was invented in Osaka in 1935. The person who made Takoyaki first was Tomekichi Endo. He came up with Takoyaki from *Choboyaki, *Radioyaki, and *Akashiyaki.
*Choboyaki: Unlike takoyaki, the shape is not like a ball, but a square with some semicircles. This is because it is made by using a molded pan with small dents. The ingredients are water, flour, konnyaku(=jelly-like food made from the starch of devil’s tongue), pickled ginger, peas, soy sauce, etc. It is served with chopped green onions or dried bonito flakes.
*Radioyaki: It is a ball-shaped food like takoyaki, but the main ingredient is not octopus but sinewy beef and konnyaku. It doesn’t relate to “radio” at all, Radioyaki was just named after radio since radio was the latest and fashionable item at that time.
*Akashiyaki (Or just called Tamagoyaki in certain areas.): It is one of the local foods in Akashi city in Hyogo prefecture, and it is also a ball-shaped food. The main ingredients are egg, broth, wheat starch, flour and octopus. Akashiyaki is softer than takoyaki is, and it usually looks like a slightly crushed ball. People dip it into hot broth and eat it.
Tomekichi Endo made Takoyaki with soy sauce-flavored broth, and it was standard to eat takoyaki without adding any sauce or toppings at his shop, Aizuya. In 1948, tonkatsu (=Japanese style of pork cutlet) sauce was invented and became popular. People in Osaka started using this sauce for takoyaki as well, and it helped takoyaki to be a popular food in Osaka. Apparently, there were about 5,000 shops that serve takoyaki in Osaka in 1955, and 5 years later some takoyaki shops opened in Tokyo too. Takoyaki shops are everywhere in Japan now, and it is also common to make takoyaki with takoyaki machine at home.
Osaka is the best place to eat takoyaki in Japan
Although we can see takoyaki shops everywhere in Japan, people still think Osaka is the best place to eat takoyaki. There are many takoyaki shops running by an individual in Osaka, and each shop has their own characters, such as kinds and size of main ingredients, softness of dough, flavors of sauce, types of topping etc.
You can have delicious takoyaki at Takoyaki museum in Odaiba, Tokyo
If you have a plan to visit Tokyo and don’t have enough time to go to Osaka, I would recommend that you go to the takoyaki museum in Odaiba, Tokyo instead of Osaka. It takes about 30 minutes from Tokyo Haneda airport to Odaiba by monorail and rinkai subway line. The museum is on the 4th floor of the seaside mall in DECKS Tokyo Beach. (There are two buildings called seaside mall and island mall.) It is called a museum, but it’s more like a food court. There are five takoyaki shops from Osaka, some displays related to takoyaki and a small souvenir shop in the takoyaki museum.
There is a ticket machine at each takoyaki shop, so the first thing you need to do is to buy a ticket for the takoyaki that you want to try. Takoyaki costs about 500 yen ~ 1,200 yen, and every shops has some combo menu and you can choose two or three flavors in one plate.
It is the first takoyaki shop in Japan. Their takoyaki is small like one-bite size, and it was served without sauce or toppings. It was my first time to have eaten takoyaki without sauce, mayonnaise, dried bonito flakes and powdered seaweed, but I liked it very much. The dough was flavorful and I got why people don’t eat it with sauce. Aizuya also sells radioyaki, and of course I tried it. It was really good! The beef and konnyaku were seasoned with sugar and soy sauce, so the taste was completely different from takoyaki. A friend of mine who came to the takoyaku museum with me ordered a glass of beer, and she said the taste of rajioyaki matches with beer very much.
You can see one big difference between the takoyaki at Juhachiban and others at a glance. Their takoyaki is covered with tenkasu, and it makes the takoyaki crispy. You can choose four flavors; standard sauce, salt, *broth and *ponzu (=soy sauce with vinegar or citrus juice). *Both broth and ponze are for dipping takoyaki. I tried takoyaki with broth and ponzu. When I tried takoyaki with green onion and broth, I felt like I was eating a different akashiyaki. (It was tasty though) Takoyaki with ponzu was also good. The sourness of ponzu matched the takoyaki.
The size of the takoyaki at Imotako is bigger than others. Imo literally means potato in Japanese, and this shop uses diced yam potato for their takoyaki. I tried sauce and cheese. Although I liked the takoyaki with cheese topping, I personally preferred takoyaki with sauce since I thought cheese overwhelmed the yam and octopus.
This shop sells both takoyaki and akashiyaki. I was excited to eat akashiyaki because it has been about three years since I had akashiyaki for the last time. I like akashiyaki so much, but I didn’t know any places that serve it in Tokyo…I should have been to the Takoyaki museum sooner.
There’s one more shop called 天王寺アベノタコヤキやまちゃん(Tennoji abeno takoyaki yamachan). I was too full to eat any more, and I gave up trying takoyaki at this shop. I will need to come here again and try their takoyaki in the near future.
They sell some takoyaki shaped snacks, takoyaki machines, takoyaki sauces, octopus or takoyaki characters’ goods etc.
The entrance fee is free for the takoyaki museum, so you can go there even if you don’t buy takoyaki. Pleasee let me know which takoyaki shop you like the best if you go there.