Octopus Balls on 9th St.?
- Steven Stern Feb 28, 2000 03:06 PM
Has anyone been by this new place on 9th btwn. 2nd & 3rd Aves.? Just a little window onto the street, making nothing by takoyaki (octopus balls) and okonomiyaki (messy fried pancake sort of thing). It's been there about a month or so, and they already have a Times clipping up. I haven't tried yet--too cold for street food earlier in the month, then too crowded the last time I passed by.
The takoyaki are heavenly - brittle and golden on the outside with a light hoisin-y glaze, creamy on the inside. To be honest, I wasn't really concentrating on the octopus, I don't think there was that much in them. But it was a really chilly day and the takoyaki had just come out of the little molds and the shattering of crust and steam and ooze of filling made me very, very happy. A friend of mine who had a number of bad takoyaki experiences in Tokyo declared them the best she's ever had.
I wasn't as crazy about the okonomiyaki - they're heavier and eggier than panchun, and the one we ordered with shrimp had maybe 2 shrimps. They also come topped with that sweetish brown sauce, and those paper thin dried fish flakes that my mom puts on tofu with hoisin. I forget what they're called. I don't think they were really worth the (20 minute) wait. They make a lot of orders of octopus balls at one time though, so I wouldn't let the big crowds dissuade you from going in - they're probably all waiting for the okonimyaki to cook, and there might be a couple of orders of takoyaki out on the counter.
Thanks for the great report!--I can only hope that when I get to try the takoyaki they'll match the pleasure of reading your description.
While we're on the subject of Japanese snacky places on that block of 9th Street, I might mention that I'm developing a real affection for Panya, the bakery on the corner of 3rd Ave. I had a great lemon-coconut cookie from there yesterday--buttery and tart and completely homemade-tasting. I've also had good almond cookies, and their coffee always seems fresh and strong.
And then there are the odd little sandwiches. I haven't gotten up the nerve to try the gyoza yet--yup, dumplings on a roll--but I have a sort of embarrassed love of the chicken cutlet. A sizeable piece of chicken--always dark meat, never dry, tasteless breast--fried crunchy and served cold on a slightly sweet soft roll with one leaf of lettuce and tons of gooey tonkatsu sauce. It's really homely and loveable, like something you would bring to school in 4th grade, and it's only three dollars.
re: Warren Goodman
Otafuku, as it is called, is at 236 E. 9th St., near Second Avenue on the South side of 9th St. (212-353-8503). I just snacked there on Takoyaki, those awesome, creamy octopus balls. Otafuku is a hop, skip, and a jump from Abe Lebewohl Park, just outside St. Mark's Church on Tenth Street and Second Avenue, which is outfitted with benches perfect for Takoyaki munching. One word of warning: The centers of these balls can be absolutely molten, even after they've "cooled" for a while. Proceed with caution. I've never tried the Okonomiyaki (filled pancakes) because the Takoyaki are so delicious.
I agree, The takoyaki was very good. I also ordered the okonimyaki with pork (and don't feel it was worth the wait) The place is very small and even a few people will make it look crowded. I have to be honest though, when they add the brown sauce/fish flakes/ mayo it can tend to dominate and your pretty much left with texture
(does this makes sense) The machine was kinda cool that makes the takoyaki (and loud when it shakes) and the Japanese I spoke to said it was as authentic as it gets. When I go again I would only get takoyaki and maybe ease up on the sauces.
BTW the person above was correct, seems most are waiting for okonimyaki (at least when I was there) and there may be orders of takoyaki already made (though I am sure its way better just out of the machine)
Isn't there something similar to this at Yaohan?