I’ll just say it: I really like squid balls.

If you come to Tokyo, you need to order squid balls.  Then, you need to go to Osaka and order squid balls.  You will realise that Osaka squid balls are much better than Tokyo squid balls.  Then, you should go back to Tokyo and say to a random person, “Why are the squid balls in Osaka better than the squid balls in Tokyo?”.

Sorry, I should have prefaced that by saying I’m assuming you want to find out exactly what the Japanese limits on politeness actually are.

Takoyaki (squid balls) from Osaka are heavenly.  A small piece of squid encased in a warm, spongy globe of batter, fried and seasoned with various herbs and delicious miscellany.  Served on a foam tray with a toothpick for skewering, smothered in mayonnaise, BBQ sauce and chives, and it’s the perfect street snack.

Or at least, it was the perfect street snack, until I found something even better there: the takosen.  Three or so squid balls sandwiched between two savoury senbei crackers, with spring onion and sauces.  It’s $1.50 of portable delight, a Japanese version of the taco but maybe even better.

I should make it clear that I really like tacos, too.

When I got back to Tokyo after my trip, I desperately asked around the office where I could get tacosen in Tokyo, but of the few that even knew what they were (Osaka-ites all), no-one had any idea.  A regional specialty that seems to be a well-kept secret.

There’s a guy selling takoyaki out of a van near my train station in Tokyo.  He’s probably been doing it for twenty years or more.  If he doesn’t know what a takosen is, I am going to show him.  I will buy the ingredients for him.  National pride and dignity  be damned, this foreigner will show the Japanese guy making squid balls for decades how to do his job.

Next post (tentative title): How I Failed To Teach A Professional Squid Ball Maker How To Do His Job, Actually Insulting Him Quite Badly In The Process, Sorry About That Professional Squid Ball Maker.

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