Everybody seems to agree: Osaka is the place for takoyaki. Sources indicate that the origin of this very popular snack is akashiyaki. A local favorite of the city if Akashi in Hyogo Prefecture, akashiyaki features the city’s specialty, octopus.
Akashi: the Place for Octopus
Akashi is right next to Kobe City. It is quite famous for the biggest bridge in Japan, Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, which connects Awaji Island to the main island. However, for most of the people in Kansai, Akashi is better known as the best place for octopus. The history of octopus fishing in Akashi is so old that they even found old octopus hunting tools that are roughly 2,000 years old!
So why octopus is so popular in Akashi? Actually, around Akashi, not only are ocean currents quite fast, but the bottom of the ocean is quite rocky, making it an ideal place for many little shrimps and crabs to thrive. Octopus in Akashi indeed eat these tasty critters and because of the strong current they develop really strong tentacles.
Currently, the Uo no Tana Shopping Street near Akashi Station sells many different kinds of seafood, including the locally famous octopus. Along the shopping street are dozens of stands that offer this local specialty and plenty of restaurants that specialize in octopus!
Locally known as tamagoyaki, akashiyaki has a distinctly eggy taste and is served without any sauce or mayonnaise, but in a clear dashi soup.
Around the beginning of the 20th century, radio-yaki were a common treat throughout Japan, but especially in Osaka. While radio-yaki were similar to our takoyaki today, they didn’t contain any octopus, but meat or beans. They also lacked the typical condiments of modern takoyaki i.e sauce and mayonnaise. It was only in the mid-20th century when visitors from Akashi stopped in Aiduya, a small radio-yaki shop in Osaka, and told the chef about akashiyaki. Inspired by the idea of using octopus, the chef swapped his usual fillings and “takoyaki” quickly gained popularity.
In Akashi, there are as many as 70 different akashiyaki shops. Of those, Yokoi is easily one of the most popular, as it is the only one that still uses an original recipe for akashiyaki. Yokoi is located on the Uo no Tana Shopping Street.
The restaurant itself is very small, only about 20 seats total.
Though many people think you should dip akashiyaki in soup, Yokoi does not recommend it. The soup is primarily to cool down the akashiyaki and. Yokoi encourage guests to try akashiyaki as is.