My travel companions and I spent a rainy day at Tokyo Solamachi, an enormous shopping mall/entertainment complex attached to the Tokyo Skytree. If you live in the US, think Mall of America but more of a feast for the senses!
There it was… a cheerful red and white storefront prominently advertising something called “Octopus Senbei.” My understanding was that senbei were rice crackers… but these were clearly, definitely, octopus! How could I resist? It’s not like I would find THIS at Mall of America!
One piece of octopus senbei was about the size of my hand, wafer thin, and cost 378 yen (about $3.69). As food bargains go, this wasn’t a great one. Clearly, there was a bit of a tourist mark-up for goofy tourists like me! Curiosity got the best of me, and there I was, standing in line with a few 100 yen coins, waiting for a crispy octopus.
When I reached the counter, I was told that both “well baked” and “half baked” varieties were available. Also, the senbei cook showed me that a few shrimp senbei were still warm on the grill. The octopus, however, had captured my attention.
My octopus senbei was delicious! It was crispy, a bit salty, and not too fishy. Instead, it was chock full of the savory umami flavor that Japanese cuisine captures so well. If you have an opportunity to sample octopus senbei, don’t miss out! It’s a small world. Eat well.
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