Over the weekend, I went with my friend Joe down to San Mateo to check out some potential new digs for him. Afterwards, we went to a local Japanese restaurant for dinner.
Another friend had told us about this place because of a special item on the menu – takoyaki roulette! You get an order of six takoyaki (fried dough balls with octopus filling), except one of them is filled with hot sauce instead. I am a bit of a masochist so I was down for the challenge, and because of my usually terrible luck, Joe was also down. While we were there, I think about four orders were served, but we were the only group of two to play.
Our waitress set the plate down in between us, and it was arranged in a ring of five balls and one at the center. I resigned myself to my fiery fate and just took the one closest to me. I tried sniffing it a bit to see if there was anything that would give away the hot sauce, but I only smelled the sweet takoyaki sauce, and felt pretty safe.
The takoyaki was pretty good. The chef did not go crazy with the sauce(s)/mayo/bonito like some other places do. The dough was nicely fried – crispy on the outside, still soft on the inside. The tako (octopus) was a bit spare, but had a nice fresh snap. Round 1 was a success! Joe also passed, so we moved on to Round 2. This time, i picked the center ball. And passed again. Joe also got a normal ball, and we moved on to Round 3. At this point, Joe and I were both pretty surprised that I had not gotten the hot one yet. I think he actually was getting nervous.
Round 3 – Sudden Death. With 50/50 odds of losing, I just picked the ball closer to myself. Joe asked anxiously if I had won, to which I exuberantly replied, “No, you won!” You should see the emotions run through him… shock, depression, then confusion… “Wait, does that mean… ?” No, he got the lava ball on the very last pick. I could smell the hot sauce off his breath as soon as he bit into it. And then he promptly downed his beer, a new beer, and a couple of glasses of ice water.
Feeling a bit bad for Joe, as well as curious about the hotness of the takoyaki, I asked our waitress if I could get a single hot takoyaki, but she told me they could not do that. She did offer a small plate of just the hot sauce, though, so I took that and tried it. I would say it was comparable to the ghost pepper sauce from the wing challenge I did with my family in Minnesota a couple of years ago – it was a slow build to a tear-jerking top note which lasted about 10 minutes. I would like to think that I handled myself better than at the wing challenge. No milk was ordered, and there was less tearing.
We were able to have normal food after, and we discovered a fantastic new beer.
All in all, a good time was had by all. After we got ice cream to settle our stomachs, anyway. If I make this a regular thing, I should become immune to pepper spray. That’s how things work, right?