Over the weekend I came across an innovative new company while doing a bit of Christmas shopping in pop-up design store The Temporium.
Lured in by tasters, I couldn’t get enough of the Pom Pom’s at the Pom Pom Takoyaki stall! Not too be confused with a cutsey toy or Christmas decoration, Pom Pom’s the brain child of Japaneses natives Hana and Tomo are golf sized savory pancake balls made of batter. Traditionally it is made with octopus, spring onions, pickled ginger and tenkasu, but food fanatics Hana and Tomo decided to fill their Takoyaki’s with more familiar tasty and sweet variations of the original recipe.
Pom Pom Chicken – Teriyaki Chicken and sauce
Pom Pom Apple – Caramelised apple, cinnamon and honey , Pom Pom Chocolate – cherry & chocolate sauce, Pom Pom Banana – Banana, chocolate sauce and coconut
I asked Hana and Tomo how the idea came about…
Why did you decide to bring this particular traditional Japanese dish to the UK?
Takoyaki (octopus ball) is a popular tasty street food snack in Japan. We felt that there was a lack of snacks like takoyaki available in the UK so we knew we would fill a gap in the market. We still offer the traditional takoyaki on our menu but we wanted to do something new and unique, so we developed Pom Pom’s which is similar to takoyaki but with different fillings and flavours to suit a UK clientele. After all octopus isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
How did you go about developing your business Pom Pom Takoyaki?
We started off by coming up with the Pom Pom concept and then tried to find the right type of brand image, then we started experimenting with different recipes. When we felt confident that we had something that we totally believed in, we started to do the practical things like opening a business bank account, printing business cards and contacting various people, including Dezeen who offered us a space in their Christmas pop up store The Temporium. The Temporium is actually our first public introduction and Pom Pom’s have had a lot of interest. We are learning along the way and enjoying the whole process.
Tell me a bit about your journey from Japan to London?
Hana: I originally moved to Cambridge with my family because of my father’s job, but returned to Japan after 2 years. I decided to come back to study at a university in London because I loved the cosmopolitan lifestyle.
Tomo: I wanted to learn French cuisine so I lived and worked in Paris. I met my Husband in Paris, he was from the UK, so we returned together. I love my country and miss many things including the food, but London allows me to be unique. Individuality is respected and accepted here perhaps a little more than in Japan.
What has been the public’s response to Pom Poms in the UK?
It’s been very positive! A lot of people approach Pom Pom’s with a curious look on their face until they try them. Once they have had a taste there has been nothing but positive responses. At first we found that not many people know about takoyaki. It helps us a bit because they have nothing to compare Pom Pom’s with and we can introduce new flavours. We describe them as edible Pom Pom’s because there isn’t one particular recipe that has been more popular. They have all been equally popular so it’s hard to predict what assortment people choose to have in their box*. We found that children really like them because they look cute and fun and customers have commented on how visually appetizing they look when we decorate them with different sauces and toppings. For us that is our biggest compliment because it was our aim to create something unique and tasty.
The Pom Pom Takoyaki stall will be at The Temporium – 65 Mounmouth Street, Covent Garden until 24th December.
*Box of 5 Pom Pom’s for £3.80
Images by Luke Hayes