Thursday, May 20, 2010
Today I had some business in Little Tokyo (yeah, I've been all over town this week), and there was a takoyaki cart there. It is a fairly common site to see around Japan, but not so much here. For those unfamiliar with takoyaki, it is basically a round, seasoned dough ball with pieces of boiled octopus inside. It might not sound too appetizing from my description, but there is a little more to it. It usually comes piping hot, with a crisp outside and a lava-like center. (I'm really not doing a good job of making this sound appetizing, am I?) It makes for a wonderful street snack, since it's quick to make and served hot.
The cart that I saw was named Takoyaki TANOTA, and they only served takoyaki (other Japanese vendors might offer cheese-filled takoyaki). If I recall correctly, they came in sets of eight pieces for $5. They also offered them plain, topped with otafuku sauce, or special, which came topped with their Tanota original sauce, mayo, nori, and negi (green onion). We tried them with the special sauce.
To be honest, I have had much better takoyaki, even in L.A. I didn't find them particularly flavorful, and the octopus was a bit chewy, which it shouldn't be. Perhaps it would have been better if we had eaten them right when we got them, but they were much too hot then, and they were only about twenty minutes removed when we ate them. Or it could have been that I haven't had authentic Japanese takoyaki in over nine years, and don't remember exactly what they are supposed to be like. Still, I commend them for trying to bring a little bit of Japan to Los Angeles. It's hard enough to even find restaurants that serve takoyaki here, so I'm willing to give them another try somewhere down the line. Their prices were fairly reasonable, and the portion substantial enough.
Since they're a cart, they don't have a permanent address. They seem to appear in or around Japanese enclaves, like Mitsuwa in West L.A., or on Sawtelle. For specific locations and times, check out their Twitter account.
Takoyaki TANOTA Homepage
Takoyaki TANOTA Twitter