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January 2018

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You’re probably familiar with Japanese cat cafes — they’re popular enough that we’ve even got a couple in Toronto.Pug Cafe Living Room in Kyoto, Japan

Well, Kyoto has a pug cafe, and yeah — it’s just as amazing as you’d hope.  Whoever came up with this is a genius, because being surrounded by about a dozen snorting, wheezing pugs is flat-out delightful.

After eating several bowls of ramen in Japan — most of them amazing — I wasn’t sure I could still have my mind blown by the dish.

Well, clearly I couldn’t have been more wrong, because I just went to Gogyo Ramen, and my mind?  Blown to smithereens.

If heaven exists, it probably looks something like the Nishiki Market in Kyoto: a seemingly endless street market filled with one vendor after another serving up delicious-looking food.

Nishiki Market in Kyoto, Japan

If it’s food-related, you’ll probably find it here.  Aside from all of the enticing prepared food, there’s a smorgasbord of various meats, seafood, fruits, and vegetables  — it’s a one-stop shop for all things food.

Nishiki Market in Kyoto, Japan

I came here without anything in mind, basically just looking for whatever stall looked the busiest.  And there was no contest: this bustling takoyaki stand was clearly where it was at.

Nishiki Market in Kyoto, Japan

For the uninitiated, takoyaki is basically a ball of dough with a piece of octopus in the middle, typically served as street food.  They had a few different varieties, including one with cheese, which I had no idea was even a thing.  Obviously that’s what I got.

Nishiki Market in Kyoto, Japan

I like takoyaki, though it’s never really been my favourite.  Most of the ones I’ve tried have been one-note doughy, with a rubbery piece of octopus inside.

Nishiki Market in Kyoto, Japan

The ones here, on the other hand, were delightfully crispy on the outside, creamy and a little bit gooey on the inside from the cheese, and contained a surprisingly tender piece of octopus.  The sweet sauce on top does a great job of balancing out the savouriness of the balls.

Takoyaki is an Osaka specialty, so I’ll obviously be getting them again when I go there, but they’re going to have a very, very hard time living up to this.  Takoyaki perfection.