How to enjoy Gindaco Highball Sakaba | Lightheartedly combine takoyaki with highballs!
Did you know that there are pubs dedicated to enjoying Japan’s iconic street food of Takoyaki (a ball-shaped octopus dumpling) alongside liquor? The beverage of choice to accompany Takoyaki is a whisky soda “highball” – this beloved combination is popular throughout Japan. For this article, we’ve visited Gindaco Highball Sakaba to learn the smart way to enjoy this delicious pairing! Gindaco Highball Sakaba’s locations are mostly centered on the greater Tokyo area, with expansions including Shizuoka and Fukuoka.
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Learn about Gindaco Highball Sakaba
Gindaco Highball Sakaba is a nationwide chain of pubs where you can enjoy the renowned Tsukiji Gindaco brand of takoyaki. While the house favorite drink is the whisky soda “highball”, a wide variety of alcoholic beverages are available, including beer, shochu, sake, Japanese gin, and more.
In addition to takoyaki, there are plenty of other snacks to choose from, making Gindaco Highball Sakaba the perfect place to stop for a few drinks on the way back from work. Indeed, it seems that much of the repeat clientele falls under this category!
After taking your seat, order a starting drink
After taking your seat at a table, start by ordering a drink. Let’s take a look at the drink menu.
Here are the major drink variations. From the left are Tateyama sake, a Maker’s Mark highball, a gin soda made with Sui (a Japanese gin), a Suntory Kaku highball, and a Suntory Premium Malt’s draft beer.
Pass the chopsticks and serving plates
Each table is set up with waribashi (disposable chopsticks), shoyu (soy sauce), ichimi togarashi (chili powder), and the like, all available to use freely. In Japanese drinking party etiquette, whoever is seated closest to the chopsticks and plates should pass these items out to the others.
Order a few dishes
Moving on, let’s order a few dishes to nibble on. Gindaco’s menus include pictures, so go ahead and try anything that strikes your fancy. We asked the staff at the Ginza Itchome location for advice on how to order. Let’s take a closer look at what they recommended.
Beer and light snucks as starters
In classic Japanese drinking party style, “Mazu wa, biiru de kampai!” (“To begin, a toast with beer!”) As starters to accompany a draft beer, try ordering takosashi (octopus sashimi), edamame (green soybeans), and potato salad.
Octopus Sashimi たこ刺し takosashi
Octopus sashimi. This variation is finished in carpaccio style, with olive oil, salt, and black pepper. The thickly-sliced octopus is tender and succulent – hallmarks of a specialty restaurant.
Potato Salad ポテトサラダ poteto sarada
This homemade potato salad is another of the pub’s most popular items. Roughly crushed potatoes are mixed into mashed potatoes and seasoned with black pepper, creating a variety of textures.
Green Soybeans 枝豆 edamame
Green soybeans boiled with salt, edamame are a classic izakaya (traditional Japanese pub) dish that has become known worldwide.
Move on to takoyaki accompanied by a highball
After enjoying the starter dishes with beer, it’s time for the star of the evening, takoyaki, to make its appearance! Whisky soda highballs are the perfect pairing. Let’s try some kushiyaki (skewered and grilled dishes) alongside. This is Gindaco Highball Sakaba at its best.
Ball-Shaped Octopus Dumplings たこ焼 takoyaki
Let’s start with the tried-and-true standard of “sauce” dressed takoyaki, an iconic Japanese street food. Gindaco’s signature sauce is savory, sweet, and clings to each dumpling perfectly. The takoyaki batter is a mixture of wheat flour and dashi, an umami-rich Japanese soup stock, and is cooked in a dimpled iron griddle, creating a ball shape. The freshly-cooked takoyaki are garnished with kezuri-bushi (dried, shaved fish flakes, in this case, a mix of mackerel and skipjack tuna) and aonori (dried green laver seaweed). At Gindaco Highball Sakaba, order sizes start at four pieces.
Spring Onion Takoyaki ねぎだこ negi-dako
Instead of dressing in the traditional sauce, this takoyaki variation is served with a mound of shredded negi (spring onions) and nori (dried laver seaweed). Enjoy with a light, fresh-tasting tentsuyu (tempura dipping sauce) and grated daikon radish.
The trick to enjoying negi-dako is to first use your chopsticks to break a small hole in the plain takoyaki, and stuff some of the spring onion topping inside. Pick up the takoyaki and dip it into the tentsuyu, which already has grated daikon mixed in. This is a sure-fire flavor sensation!
Skewered Chicken Thigh もも串 momo kushi
Momo kushi is a type of yakitori (grilled chicken) recommended to accompany takoyaki and a highball. This is thigh meat, glazed in a slightly sweet sauce and grilled to perfection.
We recommend also trying a dusting of ichimi togarashi chili powder, which is provided at your table, to suit your taste!
Beef Inside Skirt 牛ハラミ gyu harami
This kushiyaki (grilled skewer) features harami, a beef diaphragm cut that is popular at Japanese barbecue. Featuring beefy, bold red meat flavor and tender texture, these skewers are dressed in a soy-based onion sauce.
Finish the meal with yakisoba and sake!
In Japan, it’s common to have noodles as the last dish to finish off a wonderful meal. At Gindaco Highball Sakaba, yakisoba is a very popular finishing dish. After polishing off a highball, how about moving on to sake to accompany the final dish?
Japanese Fried Noodles 焼きそば yakisoba
Yakisoba is a Japanese-style fried noodle dish. Gindaco Highball Sakaba uses a specially-made noodle with fine cuts in the surface, so that it will be coated in plenty of sauce. Large chunks of juicy pork belly are the perfect topping to these already addictive noodles!
At the side of the plate, you’ll see a bit of bright red beni shoga (red ginger) served as a palate-cleansing garnish. While the brilliant red color of this vinegared ginger might come as a bit of a surprise, it is definitely worth a try!
What do you think about these recommendations to enjoy the Gindaco Highball Sakaba experience? These ordering tips are just one example of how to navigate the menu, which in pub style, is designed to be mixed and matched to suit your liking. Washing down freshly-cooked takoyaki with a briskly fizzy highball is sure to bring a moment of pure bliss!
* The published information is current as of October 2022. Prices and other details are subject to change.
This easily-approachable pub is operated by Tsukiji Gindaco, a renowned nationwide takoyaki chain. Locations are currently centered around the greater Tokyo area, with expansions in regions such as Shizuoka and Fukuoka.