Friday, October 9, 2009

Onagaya Taiyaki

Taiyaki is a traditional Japanese sweet made with what looks like and is similar to pancake or waffle batter. It has a filling which is often made of beans or custard in my experience, but can be any from a wide variety of fillings including savory ones.

There's a taiyaki place not too far from my home which I have walked past many times, so I've seen the process hundreds of times. There are two fish-shaped mold pans (like a large muffin tin with fish-shaped holes) which batter is poured into and a dollops of filling are placed in the center of one side. The two sides are then joined together and the batter is completely cooked and the filling warmed up or melted.

Recently, we got a flyer for a taiyaki place, Onagaya, opening up in our neighborhood. This one produces taiyaki which is a little different than usual because it is white and made with tapioca flour-based batter instead of pancake-style batter. They sell a great many varieties including black and red bean, grean tea, blueberry cheese, strawberry cheese, and mango cheese. We decided to sample their unique taiyaki and chose white bean, custard, and chocolate.

The texture of these is rather rubbery and the outside feels tacky, but is not actually sticky. The inside is good quality, sticky and hard to chew and like mochi. You have to be very careful to chew it well to prevent choking. The chewy shell was a little on the thick side in these sweets. I had to make an effort to take small bites and these were tough to bite off and cut in half with a knife. If you have a chance to sample these, don't underestimate the danger of eating them too fast or the difficulty of chewing them.

from left: chocolate, custard, white bean

custard: The vanilla pudding in this is rich and smooth. It has a nice vanilla flavor and is at the right sweetness level. The mochi mainly adds its texture so it was a pretty nice combination.

white bean: This was somewhat of a disappointment. It was good, no doubt, but the beans didn't have a strong flavor aside from sweetness. Both the mochi and the beans are mainly lending textural elements so you're getting two interesting textures, but a very bland flavor profile.

chocolate: Like the custard, this had a good pudding center which was creamy, smooth and rich with a bittersweet bite.

All of these were good, high quality and well made. The main issue was with the combination of tough, chewy mochi-like outer shell with those fillings. If the shell had been much thinner, I think this would be a definite repeater, but chewy, tough wrapper with a squishy filling isn't really a match made in heaven. One of these days, I hope to do a review of the more traditional taiyaki from our local shop to contrast the experience I had with these ones.


anchan said...

These look like those steamed bread manju. I do quite like the usual taiyaki, but I'd be tempted to give these a try. I've just bought some taiyaki gummy candy - they have anko flavoured jelly in the middle, and the packet is rather cool!

Orchid64 said...

I'd recommend trying these once. I've read some reviews and conventional taiyaki makers don't think this will last because it's best when it's fresh. I can't say I agree necessarily because it is good out of the toaster oven. I just think they're hard to eat.

If you can, take a picture of your candy and post it on your blog so I can see. :-)

Anonymous said...

I have falling in love with the creamed based not so much the bean (adzuki), it looks so soft.. like manju as Angela said... and I like things that are gummy or soft... I have not tried these yet...

ebidebby said...

Oh, taiyaki is one of my favorites! I am partial to the ones made with batter, though, rather than mochi. However, these do look tasty.

Greg said...

I had these one time at a Japanese market in Hoboken, New Jersey. Mine was custard filled, and supper tasty, but the flavor could have been stronger.

I am glad I found this blog! I think I am going to have to check back regularly.

Orchid64 said...

Hi, Greg, and thanks for commenting and for reading!

I post 5 times a week (every weekday), so that might help you decide when to check back. :-)

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it may be me, but I do find those fish to disturbingly resemble the real thing a little too much. From where I live those cakes are steamed till a little more golden brown.

On a sidenote, your blog's awesome. (:

Orchid64 said...

Thanks very much for your compliment, anonymous! I appreciate it so much!

I had the same impression as you about them being a little too real (my guess is that it is the detailed scales). I felt a little weird seeing them sawed in half with their pudding "guts" oozing out!