Octopus doesn't make it onto many Boise menus. The cephalopod sometimes shows up on a sashimi plate, but it's usually revoltingly rubbery, which is a shame, considering that it can be a real treat when prepared with care.
At Genki Takoyaki, a new Boise food cart, owners Christy Beavers and Rhett Atagi soak their pre-cooked octopus in soy sauce and dashi for at least an hour before plopping cubes of it into their tiny round dumplings.
"The octopus has been marinated in a Japanese stock and then we have pork, which is Chinese-style like pork-and-seeds pork," explained Atagi, a sushi chef at Ling and Louie's. "We do orders of four, six and eight, and you can split them up if you'd like to try both."
The dumplings, called takoyaki, are a popular Japanese street food prepared in a cast-iron griddle filled with half-spherical molds. A batter of rice and cake flour is poured into each mold and a chunk of marinated octopus or pork is dropped in. The dumplings are turned slowly as they cook until they form round balls that are crispy on the outside and fluffy inside. They're topped with a streak of mayo, a drizzle of takoyaki sauce, a shake of ground nori, a pile of bonito flakes and a scoop of green onions. "We lived in Japan for two years teaching English and this was our favorite food," said Beavers. "We just wanted to bring our favorite food back to Boise, really. We built this cart from the ground up."
Genki Takoyaki had its soft opening May 22 in front of PreFunk, before setting up shop at the Capital City Public Market May 24.
"We actually did the Saturday market this weekend and we thought, 'People aren't going to want to try the octopus; they're going to be freaked out.' But we sold out of that at like noon," said Beavers. "I was very surprised."
Beavers and Atagi will be back at PreFunk this Thursday, May 29, for the debut of Crooked Fence's new, politically charged India brown ale.
"This Thursday we're going to be at PreFunk again for the Little Bitch Otter release," said Beavers. "So we're going to call them Little Bitch Balls and we'll have canned tuna ... corn and jalapenos for that one. That's my favorite."
Genki Takoyaki will also be set up on Eighth Street in front of Ruth's Chris each Saturday at the Capital City Public Market. For more info, Genki-Takoyaki's Facebook page.