Hungry? …Do you like octopus balls?
Wait, before you start snickering and sinking into the gutter, let me explain;
Takoyaki are a gloriously ubiquitous and cheap food in Japan. Originating from Osaka but loved throughout the country, they’re a cheap and potentially endorphin-spurring way to fill your aching belly. In a mysterious culinary accomplishment these delectable little dough balls are cooked so as to be crispy on the outside and molten, gooey goodness on the inside; all the while holding a piece of grilled octopus (hence the name; tako-octopus, yaki-grill) suspended inside. This molten interior can be dangerous when they are HOT off the grill, so be careful not to scald your mouth…the danger inherent there, of course, is part of the thrill and it’s perfectly acceptable to make funny faces and try to cool the lava by gulping air like a fish on land. Cooked on specialized pans in an entertaining display of dexterity, they can be found everywhere; at stalls during fairs, packed into bentos, frozen at convenience stores and even at grocery stores. Of course, being a busy Tokyo-ite, you probably want them hot and ready NOW, am I right?
This is where Gindaco comes in; A chain of restaurants specializing in Takoyaki, they can be found in many shopping centers and train stations. On their website there are over 9 pages of listings for the Tokyo area, so they are available in happy abundance. They have locations internationally, too, in case you ever yearn for them while visiting Singapore.
For 500JPY you can get an order of 6 dumplings, each roughly the size of a golfball. The real sell is that you can choose from a wide variety of toppings; from mentaiko cheese to curry sauce, with a new flavor being introduced every month or so. If you’re extra hungry, you can double your order for 1000JPY and try two of the flavors at once. Similar to many businesses in Japan they offer you a membership card with the benefit that if you buy x number of orders you get one free. My friends and I went so many times that my membership card got bumped up to the Silver version (VIP, baby!), which means that after 11 orders I get my 12th one free. Groovy!