Monday, October 10, 2011

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!

Takoyaki Tanota

Red Table - Huntington Beach


At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Claudia Koerner said...

I tried these yesterday for the first time at the Kite Festival in Seal Beach. Glad I can regularly feed my new obsession.

At 5:36 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

It really is the quintessential festival/night market/fun food of Japan. Kinda like corn dogs to carnivals and such!

I like takoyaki way better!

At 9:27 AM, Blogger joanh said...

haha, yes the best way to eat them when they are too hot to eat. never thought of it that way.

At 10:09 AM, Blogger Bill said...

I really need to try this when I hit SoCal

At 10:15 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


One time, I was foolish enough to do take-out takoyaki. It was tepid by the time I got home. Just not the same!


I don't know where you are in the world; but if you're in Vegas, you're in luck, they're going to be there this Saturday!

At 10:00 PM, Anonymous Ryan said...

Hi! My name is Ryan and I’m the editor of I think you have an awesome food site so I posted a link to it in our blog directory. I wasn't able to find your email address on your site but I’d like to invite you to be a part of our Featured Website program. I would love to send you more details about the program, so if you are interested, please email me at ryan [at] howtocookfantasticfood [dot] com.

At 2:51 PM, Anonymous CandiRae said...

Wow! They sound wonderful! Loved your description of eating them hot! Wish I lived near Orange County.

At 3:40 AM, Blogger STran said...

I love takoyaki! Really enjoy the moving bonito flakes too!

At 10:34 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Thanks for the note and for the link, but I'm much too busy to cook, as you can see by what kind of posts I do. But thanks anyway!


I bet your local sushi bar does them, but yes, not quite as good as eating them hot and fresh from a vendor who does nothing but takoyaki!


Love those writhing bonito flakes! So freaky!


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