Does an octopus have balls? Dining in Osaka, Japan

I’ve just landed in Japan but the travelling isn’t over yet – we’ve got 3 hours in Osaka before the night bus leaves for Izumo, the final destination. For the next couple of days at least… I’m currently 24 hours awake barring about 2 hours of airplane sleep – roughly equivalent to 20 minutes of any normal kip – so the eyes are looking

slightly bleary as we head off in search of a bit of dinner through the warrens of Osaka train station; a construction which looks more like a fully blown underground city than any transport hub I’ve ever been in before.

Octopus Balls Chef in Osaka, Japan

Chef de'Octo-Balls

We walk past endless rows of Ramen shops, all flaunting a seemingly limitless array of plastic menu-soups. Colourful Kanji-bedecked curtains adorn every entrance and the odours of strange meats and spices mingle in the tunnels of the concrete warren as we search on. Something familiar catches my eye: a Taco shop. ‘Mexican in Japan?’ I wonder, just before Richard blurts, “Awesome, taco!” and strolls in. Slightly dissapointed that my first meal in Japan wouldn’t contain the slightest bit of raw fish, I follow him in. My luck’s in though: Taco in Japanese means Octopus, and all the shop sells are Octopus balls. Or rather, balls made from Octopus. I should probably make that clear. Do Octupi have balls…?

I sat at a low bench facing the chef as he poured mixture onto the griddle, stirring it around until it started to form what looked like little spherical omlettes. Before it hardened up he plopped a little bit of Octopus into each ball and it dissapeared into the mix as it cooked.

They were pretty damn good I have to say, covered in spicy sauce, mayonnaise or HP (that’s what it tasted like…) and I even tried a little soy with it, although that solicited some pretty funny looks from the master octopi chef who obviously thought I was sullying his expert creations.

Sated, after 12 balls and a glass of Asahi, we headed back out into the sticky Osaka night and towards the bus station, threading our way through a group of a dozen locals, dancing and singing in the middle of the street, obviously pissed out of the their minds. Good to see that, octo-balls aside, there are at least a few familiar sites for a Scotsman brand new in Japan.

This post has been entered into the GrantourismoHomeAway travel writing competition.

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