Tokyo Today and Takoyaki Octopus Balls

by on September 3, 2009

tokyo japan

Japan continues to infinitely amaze us. Everyday we’re embraced by images of historic Japan, where temples and old wooden storefronts tell compelling stories from the past. However, nestled within the pockets of treasured history, Japan explodes with the latest and greatest of modern conveniences and innovations. This side is electric, eclectic and energizing.

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There is never a dull moment with Japan’s extreme contrast of modern pop-culture society and old, preserved, and revered traditions.

We’ve train hopped throughout as much of Tokyo as our legs and ambition can carry us and we’ve seen first hand that the  vibrant Tokyo districts of Roppongi, Shibuya and Shinjuku rival many of the world’s great cities’ hot spots. These areas explode with a youthful energy that is direct opposite that of the serene Kyoto and Nikko.

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Huge towers lit up with by massive video billboards play rock and rap music videos or explode with hilarious, overly-dramatic commercials,  giving an urban glow to the masses of bodies flowing beneath them. Shopping malls are filled with world class couture and all night bars and clubs serve the night owls of contemporary Tokyo (which seems to be about half of it’s population.)

These are the parts of Tokyo that never seem to sleep and they cater to all those seeking refuge from tradition in Japan.

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Modern Japan offers toilets, complete with musical flushing sounds and seat warmers and new digital cameras that can detect human smiles. The young and fashionable carve out their own rules for style. There never seems to be any fashion faux-pas, or at least that we observed in Shibuya, Harajuku and Shinjuku. Almost anything goes when it comes to making a fashion statement. Cute and cool go hand in hand, complete with pink bow-ties in hair and blue cowboy boots below.

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Roppongi is like Las Vegas inside out, with nightclubs stacked on top of one another in high rise buildings but with everything open to the streets rather than enclosed within a casino. Club promoters pass out flyers pimping out their evenings gig or DJ. We didn’t go into any of the night-clubs, but it was sure fun being pitched and pulled into on of them. We’re less interested in the entertainment and more interested in the food and people. That’s when we found this awesome takoyaki place.

takoyakiWe’ve had takoyaki in all parts of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, but one of our favorites has to be Gindaco Takoyaki  in Roppongi (they also have other Tokyo locations) . Takoyaki are round dumplings cooked in cast iron pans with small spherical molds. When the dumplings are cooked, they have a lightly crispy outside and soft inside that is piping hot and stuffed with octopus. Topped with different types of sauces, some common basics we encountered were okonomiyaki sauce,  mayonaise, green onions and bonito fish shavings.

takoyakiThis place is extra special for us because they had different types of toppings for the takoyaki and the prices were fantastic. As if that wasn’t good enough, they had whisky highball drinks, which were a combination of whiskey, lemon and some soda water. The price for such tastiness, 4 takoyaki – ¥280, whiskey highball – ¥320.  Grand total of ¥600, or about $6.50.

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Takoyaki is the perfect bar food and the whisky highballs that we washed them all down with made strolling the vibrant streets of Roppongi feel like one big party.

That’s how we enjoyed modern night life in Tokyo. We ate lots of this takoyaki on the streets and watched all the fashionable characters cruise by while we took their pictures!

More Konichiwa Japan! posts for this trip:

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sherida (@Foodtopia) September 3, 2009 at 9:10 am

Love it! I’ve always wanted to go to Japan. This post will hold me over until I make it!

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2 Gastronomer September 3, 2009 at 12:32 pm

Octopus-stuffed dumplings? Heck yeah!! I totally would’ve stayed away from the clubs too. Eating and meeting are my two fave activities when I travel. Keep eating well, and thanks for writing while vacaying!

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3 Brooke @ Food Woolf September 3, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Hmmmm…good bar food eh? Will be sure to forward this story to my good friend Hans. He might need to hear about this great dish! Come home soon.

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4 Heidi September 3, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Oh, there are so many things to see and do in Tokyo! If you’re going to visit a club try “the womb” in shibuya.

Basashi, horse sashimi, is pretty good if you can find it. Plus it’s an excellent conversation piece.

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5 Mrs. L September 3, 2009 at 3:14 pm

It’s been ten years since I was in Japan and I’ve wanted to go back ever since. Love following your posts and reminiscing about all the wonderful things to see there.

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6 Matt September 3, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Stuffed and fried octopus balls! OMG gimmie some!

I’ve always wanted to go to Japan. I would feel right at home there with all of the cultural history. We actually have some friends that live in Osaka. Our neighbors met them a long time ago when they lived in America and have maintained contact after they moved back home to Japan. Over the summer, they came on vacation to visit, and we met them as well. Now we talk over email and through letters.

Enjoy the rest of your trip!

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7 Diana September 3, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Mmmm, I love tako in just about any form, but especially takoyaki. What an awesome trip you guys are on!

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8 amy September 3, 2009 at 4:48 pm

I love love love your photography. It makes me miss Japan…I had visited Tokyo as well…Now I wanna go back.

Glad you guys are having an awesome time : )

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9 Rasa Malaysia September 3, 2009 at 5:49 pm

I love Tokyo and my dream is to live there for at least 3 months to soak it all up. I am trying to learn Japanese now.

Ooooh, love the “sepia” (?) tone pictures…I want those too. OK, I am just greedy.

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10 Justopia September 3, 2009 at 7:18 pm

Traveling to Tokoy vicariously through your blog has been GREAT! I love the “tour naration.” Thank you!

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11 Abigail September 3, 2009 at 9:31 pm

I live in Japan and that about sums it up – I love this post and all your insightful photos.

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12 Rebecca September 4, 2009 at 9:30 am

LOVE THIS POST! Such beautiful photos and your trip sounds just incredible!

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13 Emi September 5, 2009 at 12:57 pm

I love takoyaki. Beautiful pictures. Enjoy the rest of your trip in Japan.

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14 Peter September 5, 2009 at 4:16 pm

Your pictures do a great job of capturing what a Saturday night in Shibuya actually looks like. I especially like the one of the girl on her phone.

Next time you make it out here, let me know and I can show you around some of the places that are a bit more off the beaten track.

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15 Laurent September 6, 2009 at 8:13 pm

Great blog, writing and photos. I used to live in Saigon and enjoy seeing you delve into vietnamese food.

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16 joey September 7, 2009 at 3:09 am

My hubby and I love takoyaki balls! There is a stall at our weekend market that sells them :) Nothing compared to the ones in Japan though I’m sure! Loving your photos!

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17 Kristin September 8, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Hello! I love following your blog! I am in Japan right now, studying near Osaka! Where did you stay in Tokyo because I am planning on going in the next few weekends!

Thanks!! :] Best of luck with everything!

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18 Kahili September 9, 2009 at 11:50 pm

Ha, ha, ha…you said “octopus balls…” It’s late, my brain’s tired…

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19 Camemberu September 11, 2009 at 3:38 am

Ahhh I sooo love Tokyo! I can never get enough of the city’s energy. Love how it comes through in your gorgeous photos!

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20 ila September 15, 2009 at 11:07 am

glad to here that you’re enjoying Tokyo :)
when you get back, there’s a place in gardena that serves takoyaki that you HAVE to go to. cheese takoyaki FTW.

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21 Queenie Phu September 27, 2009 at 3:33 pm

Octopus balls? OMG! I didn’t octopus has balls!!!

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22 ronne sabah borneo February 27, 2011 at 8:15 pm

im in japan now hopefully can find that. we are in search of the best takoyaki in tokyo. i know the best maybe in Osaka but no time for that. so i will take my next train to ueno!

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23 ronne sabah borneo March 1, 2011 at 12:12 am

i went to gindaco at ameyoko street market, Ueno nakamachi yesterday. i ask for the whiskey highbar but they dont have it. they serve me orange juice 5/6 full (with ice) at 100 yen, ask for another top up and charge again 150yen.

the takoyaki sold at 500-600yen per 8 balls. depent on your flavor

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24 White on Rice Couple March 1, 2011 at 9:10 am

What a shame they didn’t have the whiskey highballs. So good with the takoyaki.

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