Before we get to the main topic, please watch this video below. takoyaki party
This video was produced by the Kansai Electrical Safety Inspection Association (関西電気保安協会). The Kansai Electrical Safety Inspection Association has always been committed to promoting electrical safety through interesting advertisements. So far, it has won the Acc Tokyo Creativity Awards in Japan with eight TV commercials. This video is both creative and humorous. It depicts a man who is transferred to Osaka. As a result of listening to the radio melody of the Kansai Electrical Safety Inspection Association, he wakes up and becomes a Kansai man. The video’s protagonist, who suddenly speaks with a Kansai accent, even has an ability to sing the Kansai region’s limited commercials’ songs. In this series of commercials, the main character experiences the unique customs of the Kansai region. At 2:16 onwards, the protagonist’s girlfriend asks him: Do all people in Kansai have “Takoyaki machine” in their homes? I believe all foreigners are very curious about this question as her, so let me answer it for you from my own experience!
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Osakan’s Takoyaki Party
I officially moved to Osaka in 2018 to start my life pursuing a master’s degree. At that time, I didn’t know anyone in Japan other than my professor whom I had contacted via email. In order to quickly integrate into the local life, I rented a share house instead of a school dormitory. There was no restriction on nationality in the share house, so there were Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese living under the same roof. You may be wondering why I am mentioning nationality restrictions. Actually, there are many houses in Japan that are not available for foreigners, even if you have a long term residence permit. As a foreigner who is not familiar with the country, if you want to rent a better apartment, you’d better find a Japanese pen pal on the internet and ask him to act as your guarantor. I’m sure you’ve already guessed it. The share house I rented was not very well insulated, but the thin walls probably reflected the nature of Osakan, who are more friendly and charitable to foreigners.
The most interesting part of the share house was the introduction of the roomates who lived there. The Korean was a very polite guy who moved to Japan to meet his girlfriend and often exchanged high paying part-time jobs with me. The Japanese were a freshman and two sophomores. Here comes the interesting part. There is one Japanese from Shizuoka and two from Osaka. Where is Shizuoka? If you know Atami, maybe you know where it is. If you happen to be a fan of Yasunari Kawabata’s books and know the classic Japanese literature of The Dancing Girl of Izu (伊豆の踊子), then I’ll tell you that Izu is located in the eastern part of Shizuoka. Shizuoka is a peaceful and quiet place, and the roommate from Shizuoka have that same vibe. Yes, as you can imagine, the other two Osakan are also full of Osaka spirit and enthusiasm. Not long after I moved in, the Osakan quickly invited me to their takoyaki party.
When they invited me, at first I thought I was going to a nearby izakaya, so I asked for the address. They laughed and naturally took a set of machines out of the kitchen cabinet and told me that the address was our share house, and that there was no reason for Osakan to have a takoyaki party. For them, having an takoyaki party does not necessarily have a special meaning. It can be a ceremony to welcome a new friend or a talk to comfort a friend who has broken up with their lover. Sometimes, people in Osaka simply enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of a group of people gathered around a large table, huddled around a takoyaki machine, chatting. Since my purpose of staying in Japan was to obtain a degree, I spent most of my time in the library during the latter part of my stay in that share house. Even so, every time I arrived home around 9 p.m., I was able to join the end of the takoyaki party. The unwashed takoyaki machine was still plugged in, with batter spattered on it and uneaten fillings lying casually on the kitchen counter. At the same time, there are still several round pieces of takoyaki left on the plate. Osakan would watch TV and say to me, “Komi, if you’re hungry, there’s still takoyaki here. I especially like this kind of place for Osakan. The takoyaki party is not about the Japanese “おもてなし”, but about shouting out loud when you want to eat, and poking away quickly with a bamboo stick when you want a piece. The takoyaki party is about the real you and me. It will be hard to imagine how bloodthirsty Osakan can be when they attend a takoyaki party.
Osakan’s Magic Takoyaki Machine
The takoyaki machine is a magic weapon that can quickly bring you closer to the people of Osaka. When I was living in Osaka, I thought about buying a takoyaki machine, but in the end I couldn’t because unfortunately, covid-19 broke out. Even if I had bought one, I probably would not have been able to use it. However, I have collected some items on Amazon that I can recommend to you.
You can search for them by typing in the keywords “takoyaki machine” (たこ焼き器). Given my personal experience of failure, I can’t recommend enough that you choose a round takoyaki machine over the very common square one. The takoyaki is round, so of course, the machine should also be a round one, do you think? I’m just kidding. Round takoyaki machine machine is mainly in preventing your takoyaki from burning. Rectangular machines are arranged in such a way that the heat will prevent you from turning the takoyaki over.
For example, I was once very excited about Yamazen’s takoyaki machine. You can grill 18 pieces at a time, and if you have 3 friends, after one person gets 4 pieces, the remaining 2 pieces can be used as competition prizes. The party will be more fun. Although takoyaki machine is a home appliance, the price is very cheap, about 2,000 yen.
After preparing the machine, you only need to prepare eggs, flour, and milk to make the sweet batter. For the filling, you can prepare scallions, octopus feet, shrimp, ham, corn or cheese according to your preference. For the sauce, I personally recommend mayonnaise, seaweed and sliced bonito flake.
Lastly, I would like to remind you that Japanese electrical appliances are different from those in other countries. For example, you can use Japanese appliances directly in Taiwan, no voltage or outlet problems, but if you live in other country, well, you should check if you can use them first.
Of course, if you just want to keep it at home, as a souvenir or a meaningful trophy, it’s not a problem at all.
Takoyaki in Osaka You Must Try
If you don’t like DIY, you can ask an Osaka native to recommend the best takoyaki in their opinion. I don’t know if this is also the case in your country. Usually, in Chiayi, Taiwan, every Chiayi resident has their own turkey restaurant that is the best and most authentic. This is certainly the case in Osaka. How do I know, you ask? I made a lot of friends by asking Osakans about the number one takoyaki restaurant in their minds. The insistence of Osaka people on takoyaki is almost the same as the insistence of Italians on pizza.
My most memorable takoyaki is not in a particularly popular tourist spot. During my first visit to the Expo’70 commemorative park in Suita (吹田), I bought the takoyaki outside the station by chance and was amazed at the result.
The name of the restaurant is Takoya Dou Ton Bori Kukuru Expo’70 commemorative park branch (たこ家道顿堀くくる 万博記念園駅店). I’d like to describe the taste in detail like a Japanese cooking show, but it’s true that a thousand words can’t compare to having a taste in person. I suggest that you put Kita-osaka on your travel itinerary, buy a box of takoyaki at noon, and sit on a bench in the Expo’70 commemorative park and enjoy it.
This is actually a branch of the famous takoyaki brand in Dotonbori. The original store was established in 1985 and its name comes from the call of the pigeon, which symbolizes good luck.
In Japan, there is no habit of eating on the go, so you can find large trash cans near Japanese roadside stalls for tourists to throw away their trash after eating on the spot. However, Taiwanese people have the blood of eating while walking in their bones. Walking and enjoying food at the same time can be the happiest time of the trip for me. If you can understand me, I recommend a leisurely walk while looking for takoyaki. As long as you carry plastic garbage bags with you and don’t throw plastic containers around, stopping by Shinsaibashi or Dotonbori when you see a takoyaki restaurant with a line of people is strongly recommended. In particular, Osakans are very creative with their signage. If you see an exaggerated signboard, there must be some signature dish at that restaurant.
Finally, let me share one more tip for making friends with people in Osaka. Usually, after I ask for a recommendation, I ask the person if I can take it out and eat it on the go, because I want to see the daily sights of Osaka with them. So far, the people I have met in Osaka have usually accepted with open arms. They don’t feel uncomfortable during the walk and sometimes walk faster than I do, almost leaving me behind in the crowd, before turning back to me later and telling me how happy they are to be eating while walking, so happy that they almost forget about me. The hot takoyaki was like the heart of an Osaka man. Warm and full of surprises. For me, eating takoyaki in the streets of Osaka is like attending a city-level takoyaki party. You can always feel the unguarded and enthusiastic character of Osaka people on the street.
■The Information of Takoya Dou Ton Bori Kukuru Expo’70 commemorative park branch
Address. 〒565-0826 Senri Bampakukoen, Suita-shi, Osaka-fu（大阪府吹田市千里万博公園１ 大阪モノレール万博記念公園駅コンコース）
Business Hours. 10:00～22:00
■The Information of Takoya Dou Ton Bori Kukuru
Address. 〒542-0071 Hakuabiru 1-10-5 Dotombori Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka-fu（大阪府大阪市中央区道頓堀1-10-5 白亜ビル1F）
Business Hours. 12:00-23:00