Takoyaki has come to Austin thanks to Gabe and Sao Rothschild who opened a trailer eatery called Love Balls that specializes in this delicious Japanese street food.
Traditionally takoyaki is a ball of fried dough filled with octopus. What makes it especially delicious are all the sauces and toppings that deliver a mega punch of UMAMI**
- Smoky tasting fish flakes,
- The natural flavor enhancers of ao nori,
- A rich tomato & soy-based sauce,
- And Japanese mayo - follow this link to learn how they get Japanese mayo so much more umami than western mayo.
My favorite thing on the Love Balls menu is their creative vegetarian variation of takoyaki which replaces the octopus with mushroom (pictured below).
*One warning to the super-hungry: These are served right off the griddle, so let some of the steam escape from the inside of the balls before you try to devour one or else you WILL burn your mouth.
** Coined in Japan in 1907, umami translates literally to “delicious essence” and refers to the savory & rich essence that lingers on your palate and enhances your dining experience. Umami can exist in a wide range of foods, from vegetables to grains to meats - basically wherever there are proteins to be broken down, since the umami essence is created whenever protein strands are broken through the process of fermentation or cooking. Source: Kasabian, Anna and David. The Fifth Taste (2005).