Takoyaki Octopus Balls – 8 of 365

Grilling Up Takoyaki

Did you know that a Japanese area with plenty of sushi and hibachi joints lies right in the heart of Saigon?  Don’t feel bad…Neither did I until my friend and coworker, Zeke, turned me onto his Ben Nghe neighborhood.  While wandering around after a great meal at a hole in the wall Japanese eatery, he mentioned a street food stand selling octopus balls.  No need to go back and reread that…that really was octopus balls but not the kind you are thinking of.  These are actually Japanese takoyaki grilled up in special pans and sold only after dark as a Saigon street food snack.

Zeke led me deep into the narrow back alleys just off District 1’s Le Thanh Ton Street and a young woman behind a gas powered grill contraption greeted us with a smile.  A little over a dollar buys  nine scalding hot takoyaki drizzled with mayonnaise and sour-salty ponzu sauce.  So what exactly are these strange sounding snacks?  Tako means octopus and yaki means to grill or fry just as in teriyaki or tepanyaki.  The cook drops a batter of diced octopus, dashi (cooking base made of kelp), flour, eggs, and soy sauce into the takoyaki molds which minutes later yields round pancakes eaten with a toothpick.  A sweet and salty taste combination flavors a texture much like an airy doughnut that collapses under the slightest pressure of teeth.

Tasty Octopus Ball Street Snacks

My takoyaki stand has since moved to 15B/12A Le Thanh Ton away from the back alleys and I hope this new front and center main drag location will attract even more people looking for some balls.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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