Japanese Octopi Balls Hit Centinela In A Street Cart

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Photo: Takoyaki Tanota via Facebook

Last night, we stumbled upon a tiny operation outside of the Centinela shopping strip that houses Mitsuwa. At first, it looked like some sort of New York hot dog stand transplanted onto the streets of Mar Vista. Upon closer inspection, we were pleased to find a pair of young dudes grilling takoyaki, that Japanese street eat favorite known more commonly here as "fried octopus balls."

Sizzled in a cast-iron pan, Takoyaki Tanota's battered octo-meat is served in piping hot orbs made with green onion and ginger under a soft tempura shell topped with mayo, dried seaweed, an extra pinch of green onions, and the cart's own "tanota sauce." Tanota has been serving these octo-balls for about two months now, though unlike most so-called street food vendors out there, it has been under the radar, despite the standard double threat of a Twitter feed and Facebook page working together.

On a website, the duo details Osaka's strong connections to takoyaki, as well as its own efforts to spread the food to a greater level of acceptance, much like the former hard-sell that is sushi. An order of eight sauce-drizzled balls costs five dollars, but the bad news for most Angelenos is that these tasty street eats are available here only on Wednesday nights (where they often sell out of the fried orbs shortly after 8:00 P.M.), and spend the rest of the week skipping around town, with long stints in Torrance and occasional appearances on Sawtelle.

So if you fiend for a fishy Madeleine from your Osakan childhood, want to revive tourist memories of a walking feast through Tokyo's Asakusa Park, or simply want to judge whether this could be the next sushi or not, you'll have to track down Takoyaki Tanota's treats wherever and whenever you can.