When I first met¹ the Viking he told me this story about when he went to Japan: everyone was eating these tasty-looking savory donut items on the street, so he ordered some. Of course, it turned out to be takoyaki, or “octopus balls,” (the direct translation is actually “grilled octopus” but that is an inaccurate description) and not unlike my roasted chestnut experience in Italy, he soon found himself spitting it back out onto the ground in front of horrified foreign onlookers. Then he set fire to the takoyaki cart and raped several bystanders.
The sad part is that takoyaki can be good: a small, spherical savory donut with a piece of cooked octopus in the middle and then topped with something similar to steak sauce and some green onions and fish flakes. Sounds iffy, I know, but it’s a tasty treat when made correctly. Unfortunately, the ones the Viking ate had inedible, overcooked octopus pieces and a batter that was goopy, flavorless and offensively textured.
Speaking of goopy, flavorless and offensively textured, the Meiji Takoyaki Gummy Kit succeeds at recreating his experience perfectly!
Unlike the gummy sushi kit by a different manufacturer, the takoyaki gummy instructions are not as clear. Though, honestly, there’s not much to worry about, I mean, you mix some water in the powder and apparently make little takoyakis. Rocket science. Any by rocket science I mean small Asian children can do it in their sleep.
Still, the kit is pretty cute. Once again I’m surprised at how small everything is. Can you see the world’s tiniest spoon in there?
Gah, octopus pieces! Totally cute. And they smell like strawberry, which is a good sign.
Then everything goes downhill. The gelatinous “batter” for the takoyaki smells like peaches but has a mucilaginous texture that has my gag reflex on high alert.
The Viking missed out on the sushi kit, so I let him turn the takoyaki to try and make them spherical. It is not a well-planned kit, to be honest. The jelly doesn’t really want to set up firmly (or I put too much water in, but it seemed like barely enough) and the spheres are nearly impossible to turn with the microspoon. I’m mesmerized at the concentration he puts into them, though. He’s very good at it.
They get topped with a sauce packet of surprisingly mature-tasting caramel with a distinct burnt sugar note, and some “green onion” sprinkles that are barely even green colored and taste like sugar.
Down the hatch. And because the world isn’t a strange enough place, the Viking doesn’t hate them. He finds the flavor a little on the bland end of the spectrum and the “batter” jelly to be somewhat grainy, but otherwise he methodically eats half of the batch with the kind of academic consideration most people put into doing their taxes.
I on the other hand am instantly queased out. They’re fucking disgusting. The “batter” jelly is a terrible texture, both too soft and too resistant at the same time, and it doesn’t taste like anything, it just smells like peach. It’s like eating a booger. I imagine. Ahem.
I made me sad for several minutes afterward. In fact for hours after, because I’m sad about it even as I write this. I have to go wash my mind out by re-watching Blue Crush or something.
¹Technically not true; when I first ‘met’ Mike the Viking he struck me over the head with a length of timber and I awoke later in his smoke-filled hut while he whispered “Skotska djevelen” to me while stroking my hair.January 17th, 2011 | Drama!, Food Rant