The Japanese Festival and Octopus Balls

takoyaki2Food week continues!

Recently a friend mentioned to me that there was a Japanese festival in St. Louis over Labor Day weekend. The conversation went something like this:

Her: Wanna go to the Japanese festival? The food will be amazing!

Me: How much does the festival cost?

Her: $15.

Me: So we have to pay $15 to get into a festival to then pay for overprice festival food? Why don’t we just go to a Japanese restaurant?

Her: (grumbles) Jamey…come on.

She actually won me over by mentioning takoyaki, or octopus balls. They’re not as gross as they sound–they’re just a piece of octopus covered in savory dough, fried, and covered in a delicious sauce. They’re SO good, and they’re hard to find in the US because you need a special contraption to make them.

So we went to the festival and walked around for a while. The cultural stuff didn’t really interest me because I’ve lived in Japan a few times, and I’d much rather be immersed in actual Japanese culture, which is actually quite similar to American culture. When you walk around in Japan, you aren’t bombarded by people on taiko drums and tea ceremonies and banzai trees. They’re just people, like you and me, and they have normal daily lives, just like you and me. That’s what culture is.

But it’s fine. I was there for the food anyway. And the takoyaki did not disappoint. I’m still thinking about it. The only thing that did disappoint was the okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake), which was not even close to real okonomiyaki. Fortunately a friend is going to make actual okonomiyaki at game night tomorrow to wash away the taste of the terrible American version.

For you St. Louis readers, have you ever seen takoyaki at a Japanese restaurant here in town? If so, let me know, because I want to put those octopus balls in my mouth again.