Takoyaki Tanota - Orange County
If there was one Japanese food that I would've expected to be instantly adaptable to the current food truck phenomenon, it wouldn't be sushi; it would be takoyaki, which are the pancake-like, ping-pong-shaped delicacies native to Osaka—the perfect street food with the unfortunate stateside translation of “octopus balls”.
The most memorable moments I’ve had eating takoyaki has been from street vendors and other non-permanent sources, never a brick-and-mortar. Yet there are at least two sushi trucks rolling the streets; but only one (correct me if I'm wrong) takoyaki truck, which occasionally makes an appearance at the Tuesday night Din-Din-A-Go-Go food truck gathering at Irvine Lanes.
Actually, calling Takoyaki Tanota a truck is too generous. It is a cart—nothing more than a propane powered griddle on wheels with a trailer hitch. But in its stripped down existence lies the hook. Essential to the experience is watching your takoyaki being prepared. If it were a truck, this wouldn't be possible.
On the cart, you see its birth from the beginning, starting from the batter. You witness the liquid being poured into the greased dimples, a nugget of cooked octopus meat dropped into the middle. And then you see them being coaxed and teased by an attendant equipped with nothing more than a sharp stick until they miraculously transform into perfect spheres.
The popovers are then drenched in a sticky-sweet glaze, showered with pulverized aonori (seaweed), squiggled with drizzles of Kewpie mayo and a fistful of chopped green onions.
You eat it right there, standing, within seconds of cooking, because the crispness of the outer layer is tenuous. If you’re not huffing and puffing at how insanely scorching the custard-like interior is, then you’ve waited too long to let them cool. To eat them any other way than scalding is to miss the point of takoyaki.
Read Chubbypanda's review of Takoyaki Tanota here!
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