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What in the world is this lovely lady doing? Why, catering to the whims of thousands of hungry Japanese people, of course! But what’s inside those dumpling-like things?

Octopus! That’s why they’re called “octopus balls,” or tako-yaki. You can find tako-yaki stands everywhere in Japan, whether at festivals, at the roadside, inside some stores, etc. People just love them. I was never a seafood lover, but tako-yaki was love at first sight.

Just start with batter, and plop a succulent piece of octopus right in the middle–then watch it all come together.

Just made, piping hot tako-yaki is the absolute best! Sometimes they try to give you the last batch, but try to wait and get the fresh stuff!

Tako-yaki with mayo is the standard, but there are so many ways to eat it.

This shoyu-covered version is also quite nice if you want more of a “Japanese” experience. Get a pack of mayo to go with it if you just want to experience both.

You can also cover your tako-yaki with “katsuo-bushi,” or bonito flakes–basically, fish scales. The scales actually move around, so they look alive, but once you get over that just take a bite–you won’t regret it. The message: You can’t go wrong with tako-yaki!

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