Octopus is one of those ingredients. There's no in-between, you either nail it or you don't. The ones that nail it tend to find themselves in my Best Dishes lists. That's just the way it goes. I happen to really like good octopus.
So many great food memories in my life have evolved around the great 'pus. My most vivid one was on the Greek island of Naxos watching this old man smash an octopus along the stone-walled wharf to tenderise it after which he whacked the poor sucker (see what I did there?) on this massive old school grill with the smell wafting across the promenade....it tasted as good as it smelled too. Clean, natural, slightly smoky from the char....simply served with lemon wedges. Man it was sensational.
If you've ever had an authentic version of the great Spanish dish, Pulpo a la Gallega, you'll also know how good great 'pus can be. It's a simple dish with only four ingredients: octopus, olive oil, paprika and salt - and generally served with boiled potatoes. I reckon Azabu's Grilled Octopus is their take on it, riffing on the traditional elements of the dish and replacing them with yuzu pepper soy, shichimi pepper, and purple potato mash. It's bloody delicious. Pure yum. And one of my favourite entree/small plate dishes in Auckland. Visually it looks fantastic too. Oh yeah, and did I mention it has octopus in it? Nothing like good 'pus.
Keen on checking this dish out? Go to: Azabu, 26 Ponsonby Rd, Grey Lynn | www.azabuponsonby.co.nz