Takoyaki Roll – $2.60 from Fuji-Pan, Goulburn St Sydney (next to Fujiya Restaurant, 605 George St)
Long time readers may remember my first foray into snack takoyaki as a solid but otherwise underwhelming experience. Today I introduce you to another variation of the humble octopus ball, reimagined by those purveyors of strange snacks, Fuji-Pan. Without repeating myself too much, takoyaki is a traditional Japanese snack of small octopus dumpling balls, served at a temperature usually reserved for molten magma, and garnished with bonito flakes that dance like Swayze in the heat.
In a fashion one can only describe as unnecessary, Fuji-Pan have made what on first glance appears to be a giant takoyaki, around the size of a cricket ball. My stomach lit up at the thought of such a feast, and all the tentacular goodness within. On biting into the snack though, I quickly realised that this wasn’t an oversized dumpling at all, but rather a cold bread roll made to look like a giant takoyaki, complete with sauces and some fairly limp bonito. I would by lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed at this point, not the least because I was again let down in the temperature department.
Upon further excavation though I uncovered something unexpected – the roll had some sort of filled centre. Then the eureka moment – the centre of the giant takoyaki was in fact another takoyaki, like some sort of edible babushka doll. I quickly dissected the inside takoyaki in the hope of finding a tiny pea-sized dumpling, but found only a chunk of cepholapod appendage.
On the one hand, Fuji-pan have done something incredible here, in creating a snack wholly enclosed inside a giant version of itself. However, this doesn’t hide the fact that neither the core nor crust resemble anything close to the piping hot takoyaki of my youth, and the bonito flakes look more like me dancing than the late great Swayze. Another promising snack let down by poor execution. 2 1/2 stars.
Originality – Excellent
Execution – Poor
Value – Fair
Overall judgement: 2 1/2
Tuna Dog – $2.60 from Fuji-Pan, Goulburn St Sydney (next to Fujiya Restaurant, 605 George St)
My last trip to Fuji-Pan left me wanting more, so it was inevitable that I would return. This time, while perusing the various snack booths, I saw a little face peeking out at me. I soon realised that I had stumbled across an entire litter of that rarest of creatures, the Tuna Dog. Easily recognised by their flat boiled egg faces and mustard features, Tuna Dogs are timid fellows, often only seen between the hours of 11:00am and 2:30pm when they come out to feed. Ironically, most Tuna Dogs end up being eaten themselves, by those very people that the Dogs believe are there to feed them.
Distantly related to the hot-dog, the Tuna Dog is essentially a bread roll filled with tuna mornay, and with a face. Now I don’t know about you, but when faced with the choice between a snack with a face, and anything else, I’ll choose the face 9 times out of 10. The Dog itself is a satisfying snack, the mornay a good balance of tuna, mayo, corn, and onions, with the eggy mustard face bringing a slight warmth to the palette. I found myself content with my first bite, not excited, but not underwhelmed either.
If anything, the Tuna Dog is only brought down by its honesty – it’s a bread roll with tuna mornay on it. In my books, tuna mornay isn’t really a snack food, and putting something on a bread roll doesn’t quite make it so. Although Caroline, the neighbours cat, must disagree as she’s been eyeing it off for the last five minutes. Three stars.
Originality – Fair
Execution – Good
Value – Fair
Overall judgement: 3
Takoyaki (octopus balls) – $2.70 from Sushi Show, QVB lower ground
What better way to start than with a strange looking sea creature, cut into small pieces and fried in balls of batter. Today we cast our eye on takoyaki, or octopus balls for the uninitiated. These are a traditional Japanese snack, made in a special hemi-spherical pan using a fishy batter, boiled octopus chunks, spring onions, a special brown sauce and mayonnaise, and topped with waving shavings of bonito. Think of a spherical savoury seafood poffertje.
Sushi Show have made a fine attempt from their small shop in the Queen Victoria Building. Look past the racks of sushi and you’ll see a small selection of other fine fried snacks, including some tasty looking prawn parcels (keep an eye out for a future review).
Now I’ve always appreciated a rolling snack, and with an axle, it’s even better. Balanced flavours, generous on the octopus, but not too fishy. Where the snack falls down though is in the heat department. Takoyaki should ideally be served at a temperature so hot, that even the fires of hell seem tame by comparison. Since Sushi Show are aiming for the take-away fast food market, the takoyaki are prepared in advance and kept in a warming rack, where the full potential is lost. This also means that Sushi Show omit what is perhaps the most exciting element of takoyaki, the wavering bonito flakes, which would be wasted here. Not quite an every day go-to snack, but good every now and then to mix things up a bit. Three stars.
Originality – Good
Execution – OK
Value – Fair
Overall judgement: 3