UPDATE: Osa Tako Hero had closed during the winter months but sadly, did not re-open in the Spring. RIP Osa Takoman
When I was visiting Vancouver back in November, my foodie friend Grayelf talked me into trying out the Osa Tako Hero food cart located in downtown Vancouver, which specializes in takoyaki. Takoyaki is a ball-shaped Japanese pancake-like dumpling that is typically filled with chopped octopus (tako), tempura bits (tenkasu), pickled ginger, and green onion. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of takoyaki. But since a trusted foodie told us that the takoyaki from Osa Tako Hero was the best that he’s had in Vancouver, I was curious to try it. Though I’m not a fan, I wanted to see what a well-executed version was like as perhaps, I haven’t taking a liking to them because I’d never had a well-prepared version to date.
The Osa Take Hero food cart has attempted to transform the takoyaki buying experience into a story about a character named Takuo Endo, who runs a famous takoyaki vending booth in the village of Osa. In the story, the founder of the takoyaki vending booth appears in a dream and instructs Takuo to create Osa Takoman (the superhero or “Hero”) using “the Legendary Takoyaki Picks” and the “Hero Spell Scroll” to ward off the villains. At Osa Tako Hero food cart, the Osa Takoman (the superhero or “Hero”), which is basically a takoyaki ball, is made with chopped octopus, green tea, green cabbage, onion and green laver (aonori).
The pictures posted on the food cart help to tell the story and let the customer know what options are available. The “Hero’s Flag” poster is basically used to explain that there are two version of takoyaki sauce available – regular or spicy. Another poster shows what items are available to “upgrade Osa Takoman’s Ability” and serves to explain what toppings are available to enhance the takoyaki.
And finally, the menu or “Hero Spell Scroll” gives the customer step by step instructions on how to order. The story becomes a role-playing game (RPG) and the customer gets involved by first deciding how many “Heroes” or takoyaki they want. They then choose the “Hero’s Flag”, which is the type of takoyaki sauce that they want. Lastly they get to choose items or toppings to enhance the “Heroes’ ability”.
For a snack, we ordered 5 Heroes ($3.50) to share. The “Heroes” or takoyaki balls were freshly made to order. The special pan that they cook the takoyaki in is similar to an Ebelskiver pan, which is used to make Danish spherical-shaped pancakes.
For our 5 “Heroes”, we chose the “Spicy Flag”, which consisted of Spicy Takoyaki Sauce and Osa Mayo. To enhance the “Heroes’ ability”, we chose the Para Para Sakana (dried shaved bonito flakes) as a topping. Other topping choices included maple syrup, dried shredded seaweed, shredded cheese, and curry powder.
Overall, I was really impressed with this order of takoyaki from Osa Tako Hero food cart. I can easily say these were the best takoyaki that I’ve ever had to date. For someone who never cared for takoyaki in the first place, these octopus balls have me converted. I was surprised at how tender the octopus pieces were and that they didn’t taste fishy at all. These are definitely head and shoulders above other versions that I’ve sampled in the past. And I will definitely be back for more on my next trip to Vancouver.
I found the whole story and RPG thing to be cute and imaginative. I didn’t mind it at all as it is a creative way to introduce the takoyaki to those who are unfamiliar with it. However, I could see that the ordering process could be very confusing for the uninitiated, especially if the cart is very busy and the takoyaki maker doesn’t have time to explain the story or the process.