30 Nov 2012
A Masterful Oden
When the cold starts to murmur in our bones, many Japanese would find culinary consolation in a good serving of oden.
Oden is a traditional winter dish in which a large variety of ingredients are stewed in a konbu (seaweed)and soy broth. The typical ingredients include, fishcakes, eggs, konyaku and daikon served with mustard as a complimentary warming condiment.
I will be honest with you, I never really cared for oden. I have found it too heavy and the broth far too strong to really enjoy the variety of flavours introduced to the pot. However, Takocho in Kyoto spun my opinion around completely....
How we wound up at Takocho was serendipitous to say the least. We were staying in a rickety old Ryokan just down the road and the slightly forlorn look of the restaurant really spoke to us.
Founded in 1888, Takocho is a tiny counter eaterie that serves 18 varieties of oden in a convivial atmosphere. Generation after generation of masters have devoted themselves to this gourmet art of preparing the perfectly balanced broth with each item cooked and served to perfection.
Like many counter-top restaurants in Japan in which you are served by a master. There are no prices on the menu. The master dutifully serves you himself and decides the cost when you are ready to leave. It is a real exercise in trust.
It was a real joy to experience this dish here. Sadly for me, I enjoyed this oden so much so that I find myself disliking the standard variety even more. Someone slap me!!