There was a time when takoyaki (octopus dumplings) were dismissed by Tokyoites as festival fare or a snack for kids. In recent years, though, takoyaki has found fans outside its birthplace of Osaka and joined the ranks of other Kansai-Kanto crossovers such as okonomiyaki and Yoshimoto-style comedy (think Downtown or London Boots).

A number of takoyaki stalls and shops -- some franchise businesses and others privately owned, often by Kansai natives -- have opened up in Tokyo in recent years. And, according to at least one Osaka native and self-described "takoyaki-ist," this is the place to be for lovers of the dish, as more varieties can now be found here than anywhere else in the country.

"People in Tokyo are more open-minded about takoyaki than Osakans, so new types of takoyaki have appeared here," explains Mana Kumagai, author of "The Mystery of Takoyaki," which deals with the history of the dish.