While Michelin stars are commonly awarded to world-renowned fine dining restaurants and hotels, the recently released 2016 Michelin Guide contains several restaurants in Japan that feature B-Gourmet or B-class foods.
One of the many B-class restaurants featured by Michelin for their 2016 guide is Aizuya—a restaurant that specializes in takoyaki in the Kansai region.
Takoyaki is a classic Japanese B-Gourmet dish which literally means “octopus balls”. This dish is mundane in any tachigui shops along the shady streets of Japan. The batter contains bits and pieces of octopus and is molded into balls using a special cratered griddle, and is meant to be consumed while it is hot.
The ingredients and process of making takoyaki are the same in all regions of Japan. However, there’s something about the Aizuya takoyaki recipe that is a cut above the rest. It’s not that Aizuya got a three-star Michelin rating, but the takoyaki shop was listed in the Michelin’s Bib Gourmand 2016 Guide, along with other restaurants in Osaka and other areas in the Kansai region serving okonomiyaki and takoyaki.
So what separates Aizuya’s takoyaki from the rest of the takoyaki shops in Japan? Aizuya is perhaps one of the first innovative takoyaki restaurants in Japan that not only use boiled octopus tentacles in their takoyaki balls but also beef tendons (rodeo yaki), and spring onions as well as the very generous chunks of octopus tentacles.
Another unique take on the recipe is the absence of a sweet brown takoyaki sauce and mayonnaise that is commonly served in other takoyaki shops. Aizuya believes that there is already too much flavor in their takoyaki balls that they do not need to add any extra sauce.
The beef tendon and spring onion flavored takoyaki is usually recommended to be paired with the miso-flavored konnyaku gelatin and an ice cold beer. However, besides the usual brands of beer in Japan—Kirin and Asahi—Aizuya also serve bottles of Minoh craft beer. Indeed, this takoyaki shop truly earns its commendation from Michelin.