With his shaggy hair tucked into a black baseball cap, he looks like a worn out roadie as he hunches over the sizzling hot griddle. A skilled flick of an oil-soaked cloth cleans each indentation, brushing a glistening layer over the ebony surface. Then, a thin, creamy batter is ladled on in a explosion of savory steam, filling the trays to the brim.
Large chunks of tender, stewed octopus are added next, unerringly dropped into the starch-shrouded wells and blanketed in a fragrant rain of thinly sliced green onions, fried tempura crisps, and pickled ginger. He waits patiently as the mixture thickens and puffs... then bursts back into motion, hands a blur as he criss-crosses the tray with a pointed metal skewer, neatly dividing each mound into squares.
A few deft twists, and each pallid serving is magically transformed into a golden orb of goodness. Another short wait as the takoyaki set up before they're nonchalantly flipped from the griddle into waiting boxes to cool.
Streams of Japanese mayonnaise and tart sauce, a dusting of seaweed powder, more sliced green onions, and the cooking is finally over. But not, alas, the waiting.
Inside each glorious sphere is a molten tide of mouth-searing custard waiting to gush forth in a tongue-blistering torrent. It's a test of wills. How long can one resist the maddening aromas? How long before the urge to satisfy lust overwhelms caution and rational thought? Unfortunately for me, it's never long enough...
Takoyaki Tanota - Ow! Mmmm...
4 pieces - 3.00
6 pieces - 4.00
8 pieces - 5.00
(In front of Marukai most weekends)
2975 Harbor Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Takoyaki Tanota website
Their event schedule can be found here.
They also have a food truck that cruises Los Angeles. Follow them on Twitter!