EAT THIS: balls of goodness

By Ron Swarner on August 10, 2010


I can just hear moan, "Oh fabulous, here goes the Weekly Volcano waxing wonderful the Pacific Grill for the billionth time. Seriously?"


I think it would be a crime not to spread the good word about Chef Gordon Naccarato's takoyaki, one of the Japanese street foods on the Grill's Noodle Bar menu. These balls are chunks of heaven. They're currently my favorite dish in the South Sound.

Given the fact that the takoyaki ("tako" means octopus and "yaki" means grilled) are perfectly round crispy little balls of goodness, it's easy to assume they're fried (like fritters or beignets) octopus balls.

No so fast tentacle breath.

The reality is that these popular Japanese street snacks are griddled, using a custom cast iron pan with indentations that allows the Pacific Grill chefs to crank out sets of ping pong-ball-size savory munchkins. They're much airier than you might expect.

"The batter is essentially a fritter or dumpling batter, to which we add sparkling water to make the batter light - like a beer batter does to onion rings," explains Naccarato via email.

Also, Pacific Grill substitutes shrimp for octopus.

Wet, dry, crackle, puff - four textures collapse on my tongue and a tender shrimp emerges as a fifth. Beside the shrimp, Pacific grill's takoyaki includes bonito, scallion, ginger syrup and sweet takoyaki sauce. Each flavor bursts wide open in unison. 

Pacific Grill sells five balls on a plate for $9. I bought two. I thought about a third.

Pacific Grill's Noodle Bar opens at 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday. Download Pacific Grill's Noodle Bar menu here.

Pacific Grill

1502 Pacific Ave., Tacoma

LINK: Previously on our website

LINK: Pacific Grill grabbed several Best of Tacoma 2010 awards