Frozen takoyaki is both a convenient and delicious snack or meal that can be prepared in the microwave or oven. Not only do they make great street food, but they are fun additions to obentos as well. With a variety of manufacturers such as Nissui and Showa making their version of the best frozen takoyaki, it can be hard to figure out which one to choose.
Our editors searched e-commerce sites popular in Japan, such as Amazon, Rakuten, and Yahoo! Shopping for the best brands of frozen takoyaki available online in Japan. We then picked out the 16 best-selling products and taste-tested them all.
We tested each of the products for the following:
We then chose and ranked the nine best products and put what we learned into a buying guide to help you choose the best frozen takoyaki.
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Table of Contents
Takoyaki, which can literally be translated to fried octopus, is a popular Japanese street food dish. They're soft savory dough balls that have small bite size pieces of octopus in them. They're fried for a crispy texture outside and a soft fluffy texture inside and are often enjoyed with okonomiyaki sauce, bonito flakes, seaweed flakes, and mayonnaise. They're most often enjoyed as street food and are filling enough to be full meals.
Due to their popularity as street food, takoyaki can be bought fresh from various places, such as food stands, restaurants, and bars. They can also be bought frozen to enjoy at home from supermarkets and convenience stores. Frozen takoyaki are in many ways more versatile than fresh ones as they can be tweaked and used in a variety of ways.
For example, some people like to use their own unique condiments on their takoyaki, while others prefer to cook them in a very specific way to get their preferred texture. In the same vein, some others enjoy using them as an ingredient in a larger dish, such as hot pots and broths, while others enjoy eating them as snacks a few balls at a time.
Here are three essential points to keep in mind when choosing a frozen takoyaki to purchase.
Frozen takoyaki differs in size, generally divided into large and small balls. Large balls are more filling and recommended for those who want to enjoy a fluffy mochi-like texture.
On the other hand, the small ones are perfect for those who prefer to eat them more like bite-sized snacks and want to be able to pick them up with a toothpick or bamboo skewer. Small frozen takoyaki is also easier for small children and the elderly to eat.
Takoyaki is made mainly of wheat flour and octopus, but many manufacturers can make variations and additional flavors as well. Check to see what, if any, additional ingredients are included to see if they offer unique flavors you may be interested in.
The Kansai area, home to major cities like Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe, is the original birthplace of takoyaki. Kansai-style takoyaki tends to use green onions, so if you are looking for an authentic taste, green onions are the way to go. Green onions give takoyaki a savory flavor and aroma.
While most people will likely simply microwave their frozen takoyaki, if you plan to deep-fry them, be aware that the green onions will burn quickly.
Takoyaki with agetama, also known as tenkasu (fried bits of batter), gives it a crispy surface, so you can enjoy takoyaki that is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Note that cooking them in a microwave may limit its ability to maintain a crispy exterior, but even so, the presence of the agetama keeps the inside tender, giving the takoyaki a melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Pickled red ginger is a common condiment in many Japanese foods, so you've probably tried it before. It's spicy and a little tangy and goes great with the brown sauce commonly used on takoyaki. We recommend serving it as a complementary snack with Japanese sake or other alcohol.
However, a lot of kids don't like spicy ginger. If you're having a kids' party with takoyaki, maybe skip the ginger or serve it on the side.
If you want a Takoyaki with a large amount of octopus, check the ratio of ingredients listed on the back of the package. Look for a percentage like the photo above, indicating what portion of the takoyaki actually comprises of octopus.
As a general rule of thumb, an octopus ratio of 10-12% means more octopus, while 5-6% means less octopus and more dough or other fillings.
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Takoyaki with Green Onion and Soy Sauce
Authentic Kansai Style Green Onion Takoyaki With Great Fluffy Texture
Large Filling Takoyaki With Three Pieces of Octopus per Ball
Hand-Made Takoyaki With Conveniently Cut Octopus Pieces
Nissin Group (Shikoku)
Takoyaki With Sweet Buttery Filling Good for Children
Showa Frozen Foods
Professional Flavor Takoyaki
Healthier Veggie-Filled Takoyaki With Great Umami
Gottsu Umai Takoyaki
Takoyaki With Creamy Dashi Dough but Small Octopus
Bite-Sized Takoyaki With Ginger Best for Snacking
Domestically Made Takoyaki
Takoyaki With Good Dashi-Based Filling but Not Enough Octopus
Hacchan's Large Takoyaki
Large Fluffy Takoyaki With Creamy Dough but Not Enough Octopus
Nissui's Takoyaki with Green Onion and Soy Sauce Flavor has the authentic Kansai flavor with thick, fluffy dough and plenty of green onions seasoned with soy sauce.
Even before defrosting the takoyaki, the aroma of the green onions was strong, and as it warmed up, the fragrance of soy sauce wafted throughout the kitchen. Although there were more green onions than expected, its scent was not overwhelming and the soy sauce-flavored dough was a perfect match. The main ingredient, the octopus, is large and gives great texture!
This takoyaki was impressive in that it contained many ingredients, yet each ingredient worked perfectly together. It is delicious on its own, but you can also enjoy combining it with mayonnaise or ponzu vinegar to give it a different flavor. This is a must-try for both those who want to experiment with different toppings and those who prefer the authentic flavor!
JFDA's takoyaki features a thick creamy dough with three pieces of octopus in each ball!
They are large enough that even a single piece will be filling and with three pieces of octopus per ball, you can enjoy great texture with lots of octopus. The cabbage's crunchy texture combined with the green onion's flavor drew high praise, as well as the soft and sweet chunky dough.
Some felt that the dough was packed too tightly and caused it to be dry. That being said, with a package that includes 50 pieces and each weighing about one ounce, you can throw a large party and have enough to satisfy everyone.
Handmade Takoyaki is produced by Nosui, a company that handles the processing and freezing of fish products. The takoyaki is made from ingredients that must be approved by the company's quality standards and are carefully hand-made and pre-cooked.
Our testers appreciated the chewy, soft texture and the tenderness of the dough. Its large size and satisfying texture made eating each piece highly enjoyable and pretty filling. It has a savory aroma and with green onion and red ginger, this takoyaki has an overall mild and pleasant taste.
There are a couple of smaller cut pieces of octopus in each ball, which gives these takoyaki balls less texture overall. That being said, the smaller octopus bits make these easier to chew.
This frozen takoyaki is sold by Shikoku Nissin Foods, a commercial food company. Although these takoyakis are smaller in size, the balance between the size of the octopus and the size of the dough is perfect.
What stood out to us most was the delicious flavor of the dough itself. Every time we bit into it, we were pleased by how its subtle buttery sweetness. While some criticized the unique flavor by saying it doesn't taste like takoyaki, it received high praise from our female testers, who said the sweetness made it easier to eat and even "feels like a light dessert."
Although it is a bit lacking in flavor and density for a full meal, we recommend it for those who prefer a creamy-textured, gentle, sweet takoyaki and for those who want to serve it to small children.
Showa Frozen Foods' frozen takoyaki is a healthy takoyaki with plenty of cabbage and green onions. Because it doesn't have that heavy carby feel, this takoyaki makes a delicious accompaniment to rice.
The dough is enriched with umami from shavings of bonito, mackerel, and soda bonito, and it is delicious enough to eat as is without any dipping sauce. It also goes great with a refreshing sauce such as ponzu (a Japanese condiment made from citrus juice).
The octopus is not particularly large, but it is very chewy and can be tough for some. The dough also has a firmer texture, perhaps because it is packed so tightly, so we recommend it for those who want to enjoy a firmer takoyaki.
Gottsu Umai Takoyaki is a product sold by Table Mark, which is famous for its frozen foods and packaged rice. The takoyaki is flavored with a hint of dashi (Japanese soup stock), which gives the takoyaki a rich flavor.
We were impressed that the outside of these takoyaki was left crispy and savory even when cooked in the microwave. It is on the smaller side, but the filling is very satisfying with a creamy texture. The texture of the red ginger in the creamy dough adds a nice contrast to the takoyaki as well.
Many of our testers wished the octopus were a bit bigger, as they were convinced that would make the takoyaki taste much better. That being said, we recommend trying this product if you're looking for a rich and creamy dough.
Nissui's frozen takoyaki, loved by many, has a rich flavor with all the critical ingredients for deliciousness: green onions, fried batter bits, and ginger.
The moment you bite into this takoyaki, the dough melts into your mouth. Among the ingredients, the ginger accentuates the flavor most, making it a great snack for adults. The size of the octopus is rather small, but it has a good octopus-to-dough ratio. But since these are not very filling, we recommend eating them as a quick snack rather than as a meal.
Okamoto Food's takoyaki is made with Japanese cabbage, eggs, and chives. It's marketed as a convenient stock food item as they come in large packs of 40 pieces.
Unlike other products, these takoyaki balls are half-circles, making them easy to cook without rolling around when defrosting. However, they were lacking in octopus as they were a bit small.
Some balls contained only the thin end of the legs, and many of our testers were disappointed. That being said, the dough is blended with the delicious flavor of dashi (flavored fish stock), giving the filling a rich flavor.
The most distinguishable feature of these takoyakis are how big and fluffy they are. Their exterior is nice and crisp while the inside is filled with creamy dough.
While we gave this product points for insisting on quality local ingredients, the amount of octopus in relation to the dough was much too small. The flavor of the dough received mixed reviews as well, with some loving how creamy and smooth it was and others noting it felt a bit thick and powdery.
Next, we searched e-commerce sites popular in Japan, such as Amazon, Rakuten, and Yahoo! Shopping for the best brands of frozen takoyaki available online in Japan. We then picked out the 16 best-selling products and taste-tested them.
We tested each of the products for the following
The most important factor in choosing a frozen takoyaki is, after all, its taste! To determine the most delicious ones, we did a blind taste test for all products and compared them.
The frozen takoyaki we tasted ranged from the best-selling takoyaki on the Internet to popular takoyaki found in supermarkets and convenience stores. We gave them a score out of five points for deliciousness. All takoyaki were cooked in a microwave to avoid any variables in cooking methods.
We noticed that what made the takoyaki delicious wasn't just their taste but also their texture. Particularly, we found takoyaki with fluffy dough and tender fillings to be the most delicious.
On the other hand, a characteristic common among the products we ranked lower in score was a filling that was too dense and gave the takoyaki a tough texture. Although those takoyaki resembled the chewiness of dumplings and were filling, the texture felt a bit powdery as well. We also found that having a lot of ingredients doesn't necessarily make the product delicious.
Next, we tested how much octopus, or tako, was included in each takoyaki. It is the main event, after all!
To do this, we randomly selected two balls from each bag, checked each octopus's size, volume, and thickness, and scored them out of five. Note that we did not compare the taste of each octopus in the takoyaki, only the amount.
While none made it into our top picks, comparing the size of the octopus, the frozen takoyaki from convenience stores such as 7-11, Family Mart, and Lawson had the best octopus by far! Not only was the octopus larger in size, but they were also thicker, making them chewier and more satisfying to eat. If you are looking for a higher octopus to dough ratio, a convenience store is the way to go.
Also, even if the overall octopus to dough ratio is smaller, we found that products with two or three pieces of octopus gave the takoyaki a nice texture, especially because you can enjoy a piece of octopus with every bite.
To begin with, takoyaki is made with a wheat dough with many ingredients, such as vegetables and ginger. Its components differ from Akashiyaki, a similar dish made only with wheat and starch flour. Takoyaki has more ingredients and is more filling.
In addition, Akashiyaki has a fluffy texture because of the starch flour in the dough, and when placed on a plate, it has a flattened rather than a round shape. Takoyaki holds its round shape, so the texture in your mouth will be different than that of an Akashiyaki.
Also, while takoyaki can be enjoyed with a wide range of flavors, such as sauce, mayonnaise, or even ponzu (Japanese citrus juice), Akashiyaki is made to go well with the broth. If you are looking for a rich and filling dish, choose takoyaki; if you prefer a lighter dish, choose Akashiyaki.
If you are on a diet or are generally conscious of what you eat, you may be wondering how many calories takoyaki has. With a flour dough and all that mayonnaise and sauce condiments, it looks like it could be pretty heavy in calories! But the calorie content of takoyaki is about 30 to 40 calories per piece for a normal-sized takoyaki without toppings. The standard time to burn 100 calories is 30 minutes of walking or 10 minutes of biking, so burning off calories from takoyaki isn't too difficult.
A good thing about frozen takoyaki is that you can choose the amount you want to eat when you microwave them. When you have a light craving, you can eat just a couple of takoyaki or eat it with a lighter flavoring such as ponzu (Japanese sauce made from ponzu citrus juice) instead of using the heavier, more decadent toppings such as mayonnaise.
No. 1: Nissui | Takoyaki with Green Onion and Soy Sauce | 18 pack
No. 2: JFDA | Large Takoyaki
No. 3: Nosui | Handmade Takoyaki
No. 4: Nissin Group (Shikoku) | Takoyaki
No. 5: Showa Frozen Foods | Professional Flavor Takoyaki | 60 pieces
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