What are they? This dish are little dough balls stuffed with a piece of octopus, green onion, pickled ginger and grilled in their special mold; Then topped off with aonori (seaweed, small pieces or powder form), katsuobushi (shavings of dried bonito), and takiyaki sauce (and sometimes mayonnaise).
It is made by grilling the tempura batter in the special molds that will create 1~1 n’ half inch diameter balls. When half of the batter sphere is grilled, a piece of diced or whole baby octopus is put in. Then the other half of the sphere is slammed on top to make a whole sphere..now we’re ON to the sauce X) First, the Takoyaki sauce is brushed over the surface of the balls, then the aonori and katsuobushi sprinkled on top. Mayonnaise can be added or not due to personal preference; so are the other ingredients. The simpleness and flexibility yet delicacy of this dish made itself all over the night markets of Taiwan. I mean, just look at the picture, doesn’t it look wonderful? And they usually come in 8, by the way, EIGHT TIMES the goodness. :D
If you find a good Takoyaki booth, their dough is going to taste thick but soft; in addition to the little crunchiness of the grilling on the outside. And once you reach the inside, you’re going to taste the chewiness of the octopus. This is where the spark of flavor comes in. When you’re chewing on the octopus along with the dough, aonori, and hatsuobushi, there’s NOT going to be this burst of seafood flavor. Instead, the scent and taste of the ocean is going to hit you again and again like the waves. The octopus, since its grilled inside the dough, is not overcooked, and there won’t be this rubbery texture but tender-chewiness. But what are we missing here? oh, yes, the sauce, WHEN you bite into this little ball of goodness, you’d First taste the sauce, aonori and hatsuobushi. Its flavor is absolutely sophisticated and traditional that you would just feel like you’re walking in Japan. The sauce is a little bit sweet yet salty but they’re just on the point; the heaviness is wiped away by the fresh taste of the seaweed and the strong sea flavor of the dried-fish shavings (hatsuobushi). You won’t see the balls overran by the flood of the sauce because the shavings and seaweed powder helps absorbing them. These seasoning and the sauce are going to combine with the plainness of the dough, and thus slowing down the bashing of flavor; but THEN you meet the octopus and you’re now finally satisfied with the chewiness and the light ocean scent. In comparison, the sauce, aonori, and hatsuobushi are the waves and the dough is the sand; they strengthen the flavor of the octopus and yet united by the overall texture. However, the slight taste contrast between the seasonings, esp. the sauce, and the grill bring this dish into a more traditional scenery of taste.