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Do you eat takoyaki hot or cold? The best ways to serve and eat takoyaki

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  August 2, 2022

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You might be wondering how to eat your takoyaki because they come out piping hot from the street vendor, but you might know them from being delivered with your sushi.

Takoyaki is delicious whether served hot or cold, and can be eaten both ways depending on personal preferences. An overwhelming majority of people eat the snack while it’s burning hot as soon as it comes out of the takoyaki pan. In restaurants, traditionally, they would be served hot as well.

Since the favorite takoyaki toppings like beni shoga (red pickled ginger), bonito flakes, takoyaki sauce, and Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise are poured onto the hot octopus balls, it’s best to eat them hot or warm to avoid all the toppings melting together.

It can make the crunchy balls very moist and overly soft.

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The best way to eat takoyaki

So, when eating takoyaki, be careful. Typically, it is served directly after it has been cooked on the grill, so it will be piping hot.

To eat takoyaki safely, you should wait 4 or 5 minutes for it to cool down to a more suitable temperature.

The tradition is, however, to eat them very hot, even if they burn a little bit.

However, there is nothing to say that you cannot leave them out to eat when they are cold.

Takoyaki can come with a range of dipping sauces that will alternate the flavor to sweeter, or saltier, which may also impact your temperature decision.

The taste of the actual takoyaki is savory with flavors of salt and kemp, giving a soft and moist texture when you bite into it, it is preferably even a bit gooey inside.

Generally, if you were going to buy takoyaki from a store, you would find them in a packet and cold portions. It is safe to reheat them once you have returned home, just follow a few simple tips to reheat takoyaki here.

Also, check the cooking details to guide you on the best methods and the advised temperature levels they need to reach. But, they are edible straight from the packet to be eaten when you are out and about.

In conclusion, hot or cold are both valid options for consumption. The option is really up to the consumer themselves, but it’s best served hot!

Also check out these takoyaki cooking pans to make it at home

How do you eat takoyaki without burning your mouth?

If you prefer the octopus balls to be piping hot, poke a hole into the side of it and allow for some of the steam to escape so you can test it and eat it more easily.

After around 1 minute, it should have cooled down enough to consume it. Try a small section to test before having the whole thing to prevent it from burning your mouth or tongue.

Do you eat takoyaki hot or cold

Is takoyaki an appetizer?

Takoyaki is not really considered an appetizer but a snack. Throughout Japan, it’s a common snack, sold at various street food vendors across Japan.

It’s also commonly sold at convenience stores, food courts, supermarkets, and even Izakaya (Japanese pubs).

Takoyaki pairs well with alcoholic beverages like beer, and various types of Japanese drinks. So, you could technically call it pub food, in the same category as yaki onigiri (grilled riceballs).

But, when takoyaki is served at pubs, it is an appetizer for beer, sake, and other alcoholic drinks.

In the Osaka region (but not only), you will also find takoyaki served at festivals and celebrations too, again as a grab-n-go snack. People eat it from a little takeout container with a toothpick or chopsticks.

Octopus balls are made with a batter that contains quite a lot of carbs, and they are also deep-fried in oil, these snacks aren’t very healthy, and that’s why Japanese people don’t eat takoyaki as a meal.

It’s a snack and treated as so – therefore, people wouldn’t substitute a healthy meal with takoyaki unless they’re in a rush and looking for a quick filling dish from a food stall.

How to serve takoyaki

Takoyaki is otherwise known as ‘octopus balls’, originally invented in Osaka, where it continues to remain widely popular and pronounced as their soul food.

There are numerous different topping ideas for takoyaki to choose from so you can vary a bit.

How to serve takoyaki at a street vendor

At a street vendor, the takoyaki is served very hot right out of the takoyaki pan or takoyaki maker and placed in a styrofoam or cardboard hollow plate. Usually, they serve 6 or 8 octopus balls per serving.

The vendor adds the toppings and gives you a small skewer, toothpick, or chopsticks to use as utensils. Bamboo sticks are most common and you can get multiple ones if you are sharing your food with others.

After waiting a few minutes, you can start eating right out of the bowl or plate on the street, even while standing or walking. Just be sure to poke the balls first to ensure you don’t burn your tongue. Once the takoyaki has cooled slightly, you can eat the sauce-doused octopus balls whole.

How to serve takoyaki at a restaurant

There are some really cool restaurants where you can make your own takoyaki on a machine and it’s kind of like making your own yakiniku barbeque. But, here, you’re making the octopus balls and adding your own toppings.

It takes about 4 minutes to make takoyaki balls at the restaurant.

If you’re being served the takoyaki that a chef prepares, they bring them out on a larger plate. Then, each person transfers their portion of takoyaki onto their plate.

The waiter will also bring out the toppings. First, you pour the takoyaki sauce and drizzle some mayonnaise. Next, you sprinkle a bit of katsuobushi, dried seaweed, and the spring onion (if it’s provided).

How to serve takoyaki at home

Once you find the perfect takoyaki recipe, you need to get the best takoyaki pan, and then cook your octopus balls for 3 or 4 minutes.

Then once fried, take the takoyaki octopus balls and place them on a plate and add the sauces, red pickled ginger, bonito flakes, and green onions (or whatever you like). Your kids or family members will probably start eating the balls right away but you can batch cook them so you constantly have hot ones to serve.

It’s easy to recreate Japanese street food at home and you can also use toothpicks or bamboo sticks to eat them. But, the good thing is people won’t see how messy eating takoyaki can be!

Rather eat vegan takoyaki? Here’s what to use instead of octopus

Can I eat takoyaki with rice?

If you love rice, you can obviously pair your takoyaki with a side of rice. Nobody is going to stop you from trying new combinations with takoyaki but generally, takoyaki is not served with rice. People eat it as is with takoyaki sauce and toppings as a snack.

But, did you know there is a tasty dish which is a combination of onigiri and takoyaki? It’s called Takoyaki onigiri and it is made with bonito-flavored rice like onigiri but stuffed with takoyaki fillings like diced octopus, some batter, and sauce.

It’s different from the takoyaki because this is served cold like traditional onigiri. So, if you lack the patience to wait for hot takoyaki balls to cool down, this chilled snack might be a good option to try.

But, you can always just heat them up a bit in the microwave if you want them warm.

It’s perfect for people who love rice as well as octopus and as a bonus, the rice balls are wrapped in some Nori seaweed too, which incorporates a bit of that sushi flavor.

Serve takoyaki with toppings

The deep-fried takoyaki on their own isn’t too appetizing without the sauces and dry topping ingredients. The balls are just plain, golden brown straight out of the pan.

Whether you use a takoyaki pan or the aebleskiver pan, they will roughly be the same size and round-shaped but without the moisture of the sauces, some people say the octopus balls lack the richness and umami goodness you’d expect.

Popular takoyaki toppings

If you’re curious about how to serve takoyaki, it all comes down to selecting the best toppings for octopus balls.

Japanese food is known for its interesting, umami flavored combinations and takoyaki is no exception. It pairs seafood with a deep-fried batter, and all kinds of umami flavored toppings.

The traditional takoyaki is made from dashi-flavored batter, diced octopus meat, and tenkasu (tempura scraps). It’s then topped with beni shoga (pickled ginger), takoyaki sauce, spring onions, and kewpie mayo.

However, there are many possible toppings, so check out this list:

  • takoyaki sauce
  • okonomiyaki sauce
  • dried bonito flakes
  • beni shoga (pickled ginger)
  • dried seaweed (aonori)
  • Kewpie Japanese mayonnaise
  • green onions
  • curry powder
  • grated cheese
  • liquid hon dashi
  • dried onion flakes
  • soy sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce

Also read: the flakes on top of takoyaki seem to dance because of the heat

Conclusion

Now that you know that takoyaki is best-served piping hot straight from the frying pan, you can start to think about making this tasty snack at home.

Just keep in mind that you need to buy a takoyaki pan or machine in order to start making takoyaki octopus balls.

I’ve got a simple takoyaki recipe for you so don’t have to go out looking for street food vendors since you probably can’t find them in America.

Don’t forget when you’re around Japanese friends, you want to use a small skewer to pick up the warm octopus balls full of sauce and take a big bite so the fillings don’t fall out all over your clothes.

Once you get the hang of eating takoyaki though, I’m sure you won’t be able to stop munching on this delicious Japanese snack!

For more yummy snacks check out my list of the 15 Best Types of Japanese Snacks You Need To Try Now

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.