By Bonson Lam
Universal City is home to not only Universal Studios Japan, but also a handful of other quirky eateries and shops. One of which is the Takoyaki Museum.
In case you do not know what a Takoyaki is, Takoyaki literally translates to “Fried Octopus” and is essentially a fried ball-shaped batter with a piece of octopus in the centre.
The Takoyaki Musuem at Universal City is hard to miss, as you walk down Universal City, you will soon see the giant Takoyaki mascot, complete with eyes, arms and legs, smiling down upon you, beckoning you to visit.
The entire museum screams ‘Takoyaki’, you can find Takoyaki mascots and octopuses everywhere, on walls, hanging from ceilings, as statues…they even have a Takoyaki theme song looping in the background! Although it is known as a ‘museum’, once you enter the place you will realized it is less like a museum than it is a themed eatery with a souvenir store slapped on for good measure.
Entrance is free, although you need to pay to eat Takoyaki, but that is what you are there for is it not?
Exhibition wise, there really is nothing that stands out, you can find the different Takoyaki pans used by different stores on display. You can also find frozen-Takoyaki made by renowned Takoyaki chefs here to be brought home and heated up. Whether or not these frozen goodies will withstand your flight home however, is entirely up for debate.
Inside the souvenir shop, naturally, there is an entire section dedicated to all the ingredients and utensils you will need to make Takoyaki at home. On a side note, Japanese people, especially the youth, sometimes holds gatherings called ‘Takoyaki Party’ where they gather at someone’s house to make and eat Takoyaki for hours on end. Of course, in typical Japanese fashion, the Takoyaki Museum is obliged to have strange and amusing Takoyaki themed souvenirs. The rather tame ones include Takoyaki flavored Pretz sticks and Takoyaki flavored chips. Then it gets a little bizarre, you have ‘cutified’ Takoyaki keychains, stuffed-toys and hand phone accessories, who knew fried octopus balls could look this cute?
Of course, what you really came here for is to eat Takoyaki, and at the Takoyaki Musuem, there are a handful of Osaka’s most famous Takoyaki stores to choose from. However, since you came to experience Takoyaki history, naturally you should go to the store that invented Takoyaki, Aiduya. Here you can order Takoyaki as it was first invented by the godfather of Takoyaki, Tomekichi Endo. These historical Takoyaki are also called Akashiyaki. Unlike your usual Takoyaki, these are eaten plain, without sauce or dipping. They are however, delicious; crispy on the outside, fluffy and runny on the inside and the octopus provides an additional chew texture that marries the mild but rich batter together beautifully.
Now that lunch is covered, you can go on your merry way to Universal Studios.
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