You’ve had the experience of watching the bonito flakes dancing along the wafts of steam rising from simmering balls of gooey batter cooking on the grill, right? That means winter is upon us and winter is truly the season for takoyaki. So together with family and friends, sit back as we warm our minds and bodies while we share with you some of the best must-try takoyaki stores in Tokyo.
14 Must-Try Takoyaki Stores in Tokyo 2017
1. 8864, Shimbashi
Whether you are on your break at work or on your way home, it’s an easy thing to stop by and satisfy your hunger pangs here at 8864, a takoyaki bar in the home of Japan’s ubiquitous salaryman, Shimbashi. At 8864 you’ll find the insides of their takoyaki simmering with a syrupy batter that slides down the throat perfectly to warm the belly on a cold winter evening. It’s great place to hang your coat, sip some sake and relax.
2. Rajioyaki Konamonya, Sangenjaya
What one earth is ‘rajioyaki’? The name literally means grilled radio… but you probably didn’t know that rajioyaki is the forerunner of takoyaki. However, instead of using octopus, rajiyaki used beef. It still does and believe it or not, there is a store in Sangenjaya where, as you step in, you are engulfed with a wave of mid-twentieth century Showa era fragrances. So head off to Rajioyaki Konamonya and go for it, have a taste of the original. Chic and stylish, it’s the perfect retro snack in the middle of a Japanese city winter.
3. Takoyaki Senmon Ten Osakaya, Shimokitazawa
This place is like digging for hidden treasure. The takoyaki at Takoyaki Senmon Ten Osakaya is almost buried under an ample serving of dried bonito flakes. The owner of the store, a native of Osaka, faithfully reproduces the authentic flavour of his hometown’s takoyaki. With the bonito flakes gently wafting with the heat, the price too shows a gentleness on the pocket. At 500 yen for 15 takoyaki balls (that’s right, 15!) you just can’t pass up such value for money. Winter never felt more comfortable.
4. Ganko Dako, Meguro
The takoyaki shines brightly at Gankodako in chic Meguro. And why? Because even when the takoyaki they serve cools down, it is still scrumptiously delicious. And the name, you’ve just got to love the name. It means the stubborn octopus… Ganko Dako is a walk up food stand, not a restaurant, and is decorated with signed celebrity autographs which really adds to the character of the place. Ganko Dako is the perfect place for those who like variety and their takoyaki is cooked soft and crispy. You really ought to try them at least once.
5. Koteya, Shinjuku
At Koteya there are three flavours that you can choose from, sauce, onion & mayonnaise and dashi stock. Well matched to eat with a beer or two, these flavours mean that Koteya is a great place to escape from the winter chill. Despite being able to seat around 20 people, the takoyaki on offer here is considered by many to be of the old street stall style. A style that is still very much in demand, the owners have done well to keep that charm and character alive.
6. Tennoji Hachi Hachi, Otsuka
Having branched out from Osaka into Tokyo, Tennoji Hachi Hachi’s flavour is the real deal, an authentic Osaka-style takoyaki. Not only do they serve the original styles of takoyaki and even squid ikayaki, but their number one seller is their takoyaki covered in a mountain of green onion and crispy batter. The word out there is that everyone wants this place to open more stores in Tokyo. And can you blame them for thinking so? I mean, when you see their takoyaki, how could you not start salivating at their mouth-watering tastes and textures? Winter never had it so good.
7. Iketako, Ikebukuro
Located in Ikebukuro 2-chome is this little gem, Iketako. It’s a cosy bar in one of the back alley streets of Ikebukuro that is known to only those who, well, already know about it. Out of the way and offering piping hot octopus, shrimp and mochi pounded rice, Iketako is very much one of Tokyo’s well-kept secrets. Open all day and all night, the prices here are very good value and whether its patrons are adults or university students, everyone seems to just love theplace. If you can find it, you’ll no doubt discover why.
8. Takobou, Setagaya
Along the little local Setagaya tram service at Miyanosaka Station is the refined Kyoto-style takoyaki taste of Takobou. Amongst connoisseurs of takoyaki, the name Takobou is fairly well known and respected, particularly their much-appreciated black pepper & lemon takoyaki. But of course, there are also other flavours on offer. Very much a store with a local personality, Takobou’s takoyaki is smooth and creamy with a delightfully fluffy bounce to the skin. It’s a great place for being able to offer everyone their own individual flavours.
9. Naniwa, Nerima
Naniwa serves as both a takoyaki store and a famous okonomiyaki one too. The okonomiyaki here allows anyone and everyone to savour authentic Kansai-style flavour. And as a bonus, it’s also the kind of place that makes it easy to fall in love with the people of Kansai. You know it’s legitimate when even the flour they use here is from Osaka. It’s all authentic and everything is delicious. It is a very pleasing thought to know that even here in Tokyo, you can savour such authentic Kansai flavours so freely.
10. Dotonbori Kukuru, Shibuya
All the way from Osaka, here is another store that has moved east and found its way into Tokyo. Dotonbori Kukuru is a place that is amazingly authentic. And they love their octopus here. Kukuru takoyaki is filled with large sized and tender cuts of amply flavoured octopus. Not surprisingly too since Kukuru originally started off as a store specialising in octopus. So if large chunks of octopus in your takoyaki are what warms your belly in winter, then with Kukuru, you have most definitely come to the right place.
11. Naniwa no Eemon Umaimon Osaka Hyakkaten, Yurakucho
It appears that yet again we have a place where you can savour the mood of Osaka right here in Tokyo. Located in a department store, Hyakkaten is like a showroom for Osaka, a place to try out the flavours and textures of authentic Osakan takoyaki. So just what do you think the takoyaki will be like here? Yes, it’s the taste of Osaka here. Soft and fluffy, unlike the more crispy style of Tokyo. Not that many places serve ikayaki, squid filled takoyaki, so this is really a great place.
12. Honmamon, Nogata
Located in Toritsu-Kasei, Honmamon is one store that doesn’t stop satisfying its customers. Besides takoyaki, you can also enjoy classic Osaka specialities on menu items such as okonomiyaki. When people want a taste of Japan’s second largest city, they come here. That’s what makes people choose this place, the authenticity. From sauce covered balls of octopus to green onion-soy sauce, and dashi dipping soup and bonito flake covered takoyaki, Honmamon has it all. When it comes to takoyaki authentic is usually enough.
13. Gindaco, Tokyo
Probably the most popular takoyaki store in Tokyo, Gindaco has over 300 stores in Japan with around 100 alone in Tokyo. They are literally all over the place. So popular are they that they have even branched out overseas into places like Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. For sure Gindaco offers the standard takoyaki balls with the usual sauce and bonito flakes. But they also offer new styles of takoyaki that feature imaginative ingredients and toppings such asshrimp chilli, welsh onion & fish roe and even pizza. You just can’t beat this place.
14. Bakudanyaki, Tokyo
Bakudanyaki is a bomb. Literally. The name means grilled bomb and is eight times larger than your usual takoyaki. And it is one satisfying snack, a jumbo mix of batter and fillings that pushes the boundaries of the takoyaki experience. They offer some amazing fillings including spicy hot kimchi, curry-cheese, teriyaki-mayonnaise, fish roe, wasabi-mayonnaise and even a pizza takoyaki with tomato sauce. They are so popular that the original store in Ikebukuro couldn’t contain itself and they now have branches all over Tokyo and even in Taiwan. Yep, Bakudanyaki has truly exploded onto the scene.
So there you go, some of the best must-try takoyaki stores in Tokyo. From the sensibilities of Kansai region-styled takoyaki all the way through to the sophistication of Kyoto, and even the takoyaki of Tokyo, it’s all here. Anyone can enjoy these scrumptiously steaming balls of winter delight with their piping hot batters that are light and crispy, their octopus fillings that reveal a tender crunch as you bite into them, and their fluffy textures that all can savour. So please, it’s winter now, just the right season to enjoy this most heart-warming of gourmet sensations.