Tatoyaki at Wasabi in Ottawa
Tatoyaki at Wasabi in Ottawa

Tatoyaki at Wasabi

Wasabi, a Japanese restaurant down in Ottawa’s Byward Market, was a terrific restaurant back in its day and I was saddened when it finally closed its doors. The chefs there could be very inventive and produced some uniquely interesting and delightful dishes over the years.

Sometimes, though, the culinary attempts at creativity that came out of the kitchen were just a teensy bit misguided and the results ended up being flops of monumental proportions. The Tatoyaki dish you see pictured above was, I regret to tell you, very much one of their more epic fails…


For those unfamiliar, Tatoyaki is prepared by adding batter to a special griddle pan with indentations and placing chunks of octopus in the batter. More batter is added on top and after a few minutes (as the underside becomes cooked just right) the cook deftly flips the entire assembly to produce a fried ball. These are then served with a variety of different toppings.

At Wasabi, they managed the fried octopus balls very skilfully, and two of the toppings, Eel Sauce and Bonito Flakes, were both fairly traditional and very decent additions. It was with the third topping, however, that things took a left turn at ‘traditional’ and made a bee-line into the territory the truly and irredeemably bizarre.

Now, to be fair, the menu *did* say that cheese was included as a topping (something that should have given me pause, I suppose), but I never really expected that the cheese in question would turn out to be that fake, American concoction that is wrapped in individual slices and marketed in every supermarket as ‘Processed Cheese-Like Plastic’ (or whatever).

In all honesty, I like that gooey, vaguely dairy-tasting substance on a cheeseburger (I prefer it to real cheese actually), but here, that thick, yellow ooze you can see on the otherwise excellent Takoyaki balls?

Well… it was just wrong.

With all due respects to the chefs who once made Wasabi a restaurant I loved to visit, processed cheese on Tatoyaki was, and, IMHO, will always be, a huge mistake. My advice to all who might read this … Do NOT try this at home!


Comments, questions or suggestions most welcome!