Enjoy bite-size tastes of Kansai in Ginza


Originally published on on June 2009


Japan is well known for its regional cuisine, whether it’s Hiroshima okonomiyaki, Fukuoka tonkotsu ramen, Hokkaido crab or Kobe beef. Osaka’s famous specialty is takoyaki, those spherical octopus dumplings covered in sticky barbecue sauce and katsuobushi flakes. But you don’t have to go to Kansai to enjoy them: this distinctive Japanese fast food has a dedicated store of its own in Ginza.

Tucked away behind the Kabuki-za theater in Higashi-Ginza, Gindaco offers a reasonable alternative to the expensive eateries in this part of the city. Just ¥500 buys a tray of eight hot, filling takoyaki dumplings, covered with as much or as little katsuobushi, seaweed, mayonnaise and barbecue sauce as you like. The menu also offers less traditional toppings at a little extra cost, including tuna, mayonnaise and corn (¥580), or heaps of fresh negi (¥600).

GindacoUnlike the takoyaki found at a busy matsuri, Gindaco’s are freshly prepared and delicious. Crispy on the outside and moist in the middle, the octopus pieces are very well cooked—meaty but not too tough. The tuna, mayonnaise and corn mixture is cool and fresh, offering a nice contrast to the piping hot dumplings.

Being a specialty restaurant, Gindaco has a menu that may seem limited, but if you’re not in the mood for octopus, there are also dishes like yakisoba (¥500). The drink menu isn’t extensive either, but it does offer basic iced teas and soft drinks for ¥100 (with a meal) or ¥150 (separately). For dessert, there are freshly prepared fish-shaped taiyaki cakes (¥150) available with different fillings and flavors, including custard and green tea.

Gindaco is spread over two floors, with the kitchen downstairs and a separate seating area upstairs. We found it to be quiet at lunchtime, with next to no lines and plenty of seats available. The layout and decor are pleasant—downstairs, you can watch the cooks flip and spin the takoyaki as they’re cooked, while the upstairs seating area is softly lit.

Gindaco is welcoming and the staff friendly and talkative, but the lack of a nonsmoking section may make the restaurant uncomfortable if you’re sensitive to tobacco. A simple solution is to request your takoyaki to go. The slim wooden takeout trays are easy to carry, and the bite-size dumplings are easy to eat while on the move.