Takoyaki, which means “grilled octopus” in Japanese, is a snack of meat (often but not necessarily octopus), aromatics such as ginger and garlic, and dough dipped in batter and griddled in pans with hemispherical molds — sort of like deep waffle irons or traditional Yorkshire pudding molds. They’re often accompanied by sweet-and-savory takoyaki sauce.
Originally from the Japanese city of Osaka, takoyaki might sound like a niche item, but it is now widespread in Japan and growing in both number and variety in the United States.
Some U.S. restaurants are not only swapping out octopus for more popular meats, but they are also incorporating American ingredients such as cheddar cheese and beef chili.
Market research firm Datassential reports that takoyaki is found on 0.7% of menus, up 80% over the past four years.
Click through the gallery to learn more about this Flavor of the Week and see how one restaurant is using it on its menu.