With no cosmopolitan cachet to influence gourmands’ minds, this ramen wins recognition purely for its flavor.
In Japan, takoyaki (somewhat unappealingly translated as “octopus balls”) is known as “B-Class Gourmet” food. Takoyaki is the domain of sometimes shady street vendors and national chains where there are literally no chairs whatsoever on the premises. They’re meant to be consumed while still blazing hot, fresh off the special cratered griddle used to make them, chewed and swallowed at lightning speed while you suck in air to make them just cool enough that they don’t burn a hole in your esophagus on the way down.
Therefore, takoyaki is not, one would think, within the purview of the Michelin tire company’s prestigious Michelin Guide for world-renowned restaurants. But, surprisingly, the 2016 Michelin Guide contains not just one but several restaurants specializing in takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and other “B-Class Gourmet” foods famous around Osaka and the Kansai area.
One of those featured restaurants, Aizuya, is, it turns out, actually rumored to be the restaurant that flat-out invented takoyaki. And since that sounds like a good premise for an article, and gives us an excuse to stuff our faces with this delicious local street food, we went to check it out.