Food & Drink » Food

Rhett Dreams of Takoyaki

Pop-up Japanese dinner at Tasso pays homage to summer festival food


  • Courtesy Genki Takoyaki/Facebook
Rhett Atagi spent three years in Osaka, Japan, after spending 10 years as a professional sushi chef. He started to chase recipes and restaurants, looking for the best snacks in his family’s home country. Atagi fell in love with Osaka and the summer nights eating festival food, so when it was time to come back to the states, he brought that with him.

“I love Japanese food and lived in Japan for three years,” he said. “These specific dishes are some of my favorites.”

When Atagi came home to the City of Trees, he decided to open up his food truck Genki Takoyaki. He primarily serves up a Japanese snack, takoyaki. It’s an octopus-filled ball of dough cooked in a special pan that gives it a spherical shape. It’s typically topped with sauces and bonito fish flakes. Takoyaki is based on a Danish dish, but it came into vogue as a Japanese summer snack in Osaka.

On Friday, July 26, Atagi is expanding the menu at his pop-up dinner Japanese Summer Classics. The dinner starts at 6:30 at Tasso. Tickets are $45 per person, which includes one beer at the start of the dinner.

  • Rhett Atagi
Dinner starts with grilled yakitori skewers, takoyaki and a chilled hiyayakko tofu. It moves on to the main course where Idaho and Japan collide: cold soba noodles served with a grilled Idaho trout fillet.

The desert is Atagi’s own creation, hot mochi dumplings served with ice cream.

“I wanted to do it with Dan [Carruthers] because we’ve known each other for quite a while and I’ve seen that he’s done pop-ups,” he said.

Atagi has done other pop-ups before, and he hopes to make it a tradition at the Tasso venue.

“We’ve done a few ramen popups,” Atagi said. “Our goal with this is to kind of make doing pop ups at Tasso a regular event.”

Going forward, Atagi wants to explore some Japanese pub foods for pop-up dinners. There’s too many recipes he wants to try to fit it all into one pop-up dinner.

Atagi said the reason for this particular pop-up theme is simple, it’s summer and he wanted to highlight some of the summer foods he grew to love while living abroad. It also helps expose people to food they wouldn’t find at a standard sushi bar.

“In Japan, the summertime is full of little festivals,” he said. Now, he’s bringing a piece of those festivals to Boise.