Saturday, 23 February 2013


Takoyaki: £2.50

Takoyaki stall,
Newport Place,
Chinatown, London

Takoyaki are octopus balls.  Get your mind out of the gutter, you filthy thing.  The takoyaki man pours batter, octopus pieces and shredded cabbage into a converted waffle iron and then fiddles with them in a casually flirty manner.  After determining that everything is as it should be, he plops them into a bowl, artfully dashes Japanese mayonnaise and a sweet soy sauce around them, adds some shredded fishy bits, and hands over the food with a come-hither eyebrow.

They are piping hot and hard to eat and contain cross-sections of octopus tentacle.  The fishy, salty, punchy flavours are strong yet complementary. And even though three-quarters of the octopus is rubberier than it should be, the fourth piece is a meltingly soft delight.

As more and more street food stalls open in and around Chinatown, selling the pancakes, dumplings and waffles of various nationalities, it is worth keeping an eye out for the more unusual offerings.  There might be an abundance of low-quality high-priced food in the area, but the street stalls rarely disappoint in their cheap and cheerful offerings.

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