JAPAN BOAT TAKOYAKI
or ZI CHUAN
at Gongguan Night Market
at Luo Si Fu Lu or Roosevelt Rd, Sec. 4
kid friendliness: kids might like this, but be careful it’s hot!
visit reviewed: 4/3/2011 (all pics from iphone 4)
If you’ve never tried takoyaki before, it might sound kind of strange. Little fried balls of batter with pieces of octopus, covered with drizzling of mayo and bonito? There’s even a takoyaki pizza at Taipei’s Pizza Hut that has the same effect, with bits of octopus, zigzags of the sweet japanese mayo that catch the bonito fish flakes from flying away.
There’s something mesmerizing about watching takoyaki being made- the batter poured in long rows, quickly being cooked and masterfully flipped over to brown the both sides. Think of it as a grilled hush puppy or savory donut hole.
And to eat it hot off the griddle is a must- the takoyaki (NT$40) from this vendor at Gongguan night market is perfect. Crispy, hot, airy, starchy, chewy, with touches of sweetness from the mayo, spiciness from the wasabi (optional) and fishiness from the bonito flakes. The box design is kinda brilliant too- it’s shaped like a boat, with crisscross ventilation on the cover so the morsels don’t steam and get soggy when you’re taking it to go.
There’s lots to explore at the Gongguan night market too, which has two long rows of stalls of goodies- sticky rice and chinese sausages, spring onion cakes (which has a crazy long line), giant fried chicken… I even spotted some Vietnamese sandwiches banh mi. But the takoyaki is not to be missed- you’re gonna want your own box!
Japan Boat is actually a franchise- so you might be able to spot it at other night markets, as well as other countries- including Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong- but this is the first time I’ve seen/had it.