Takoyaki Senmonten Osakaya (Takoyaki), Shimokitazawa

The boss, his wife (?) and some Takoyaki baking in the special oven

I have posted something like 50 restaurants up to now, and this is, if I remember right, the first take out place to be featured on this blog.
The hall-in-the-wall I have chosen today is a Takoyaki joint, open since July 1986 and celebrating its 24th birthday next month. It looks so dilapidated, it is a true mystery it's still doing business. What's hard to believe is that not only they still stand strong, but they manage to sell loads of their popular Takoyakis. It is managed by a smily man in his fifties and a lady (maybe his wife?) who looks a little younger. The professional Takoyaki baker is from Osaka, the second biggest town in Japan, and the center of southern Japan, if not the center for anything Takoyaki.
For anyone not familiar with this uber-famous little ball-like cuisine which literally translates into "Baked Octopus", please have a look at this wiki article for some clarifications.

I am attaching a close-up of the fan by the little window in the wall so you have an idea of how "dirty" this "bakery" is. Obviously, baking Takoyakis for 20 something years in such a tiny space has to be tough on your ventilation, but you really have to see it to believe it. Osakaya is really amazing in the way it has the power to remind you of the shabbiness of south-east asian markets and eateries, while you're standing in the middle of Shimokitazawa.

The amazingly oily walls

However, no matter how crumbling and greasy the place looks, the food is good! It is definitely not gourmet food but if you're into munching something a little junk-ish, this should definitely satisfy you. You have a choice between 8 balls (¥280) or 15 balls (¥500), but they're so popular, you can only order one of the two sizes and that's it. So, be wise in your choice! If you're very hungry or with friends, the bigger size is a no-brainer. If not, the 8-ball is sufficient for a quick snack or even a light lunch/dinner.

The 15 takoyakis in their take out box

You will also be asked by the man in the kitchen whether you want some mayonnaise (Mayoneezu Irimasuka?), if you'll bring the whole thing home (Omochikaeri desuka?) or eat it in front of the shop. Be specific on your choice as the box in which he puts the food is different whether you'll eat it right away or not.

The balls taken out of their box for the photo shoot...

We opted for the take out home option as a World Cup game was on TV, and started eating the Takoyakis probably 15mn after we bought them, while South Korea was punishing Greece.
The balls had become a little soft because of their own heat and steam, but they still managed to be satisfyingly hard on the outside. I assume they are almost crunchy if you eat them right from the oven. What is amazing with these Takoyaki is the way the baker succeeds in keeping the batter almost runny inside. Almost like if you were eating a half-boiled egg. A lot of Takoyaki adepts from the Kansai area complain about how over-baked Takoyaki can be in Tokyo, but I can guarantee you there are no matter of complains here.

The recipe is very simple and rather Amakuchi (low on salt), which I like. Sometimes the Octopus Balls (as some foreigners like to call them) can be overly pungent in flavor because of a very strong and sweet Sosu (Japanese style Worcestershire sauce) that's topped on them, but I think it's attaining a nice balance at Osakaya, where the sauce is less powerful.
The chunks of octopus are small, contrary to the newer trend consisting of inserting huge pieces in the batter. There are no Beni-Shoga (thin slices of ginger pickled in red plum vinegar), just the usual Katsuobushi (dry Bonito shavings) and chopped green onion.

Authentic. Good. Cheap. Try it!

You might have to wait in line sometimes for up to 20mn, but the wait is worth it!

Takoyaki Senmonten Osakaya is closed on Wednesdays and open the rest of the week from 16:30pm to 22:00pm (though they will close the shop as soon as they run out of batter)
Setagaya-ku, Kitazawa 2-33-2
Click here for a MAP


Takomushi said...

Damn it! I totally forgot to eat them. Well next time! SEITAKO

mr. pineapple man said...

yum!!! minus the oily wall~

frenchy said...

good stuff guys!