October 17, 2018
by Miyu Arimoto, Yuko Yasuda & Yuma Ogata
Oden is a Japanese one-pot simmered dish that has been developing for over 1,000 years. Every Japanese person loves oden. Originally, oden was simply dengaku, which is a grilled eggplant with sweet miso paste.
Back in the late Muromachi period, people used to skewer ingredients like tofu, bake them, and eat them with miso, or fermented soybean paste. When Muromachi period changed to the late Edo period, people began to boil oden instead of bake it.
When we make oden, we definitely need dashi, which is a traditional Japanese broth made from bonito flakes and/or kelp. If you want to make your own dashi, you need to boil these things. Dashi in Kyoto is usually made with bonito, so when you eat oden, you can smell the aroma of bonito. Experiencing the aroma of dashi is one way to enjoy oden. The taste of oden is very simple, but distinct. For example, vegetables become very tasty when boiled in dashi. Typically, 45 minutes of boiling the ingredients is the best way to make delicious oden.
There are many kinds of oden. For example, there is satsuma-age (deep-fried fish paste balls), hanpen (solidified minced fish paste), boiled egg, Japanese radish, konnyaku (a rubbery gelatin made from the konjac plant), tsukune (chicken meatballs), chikuwa (a tube-shaped fish paste cake) and so on. Especially, the main ingredients of oden are boiled eggs, Japanese radish, and konnyaku. Oden ingredients are slightly different depending on the area of the country, however.
Oden goes well with Japanese mustard and yuzu pepper. Yuzu is a citrus fruit native to Japan. Yuzu pepper is a Japanese spice made from yuzu rind, chili and salt.
There are many oden restaurants in Japan, but it is so difficult to find them because usually they are located in out-of-the-way places. For this reason, foreign visitors to Japan don’t know much about Oden, so they won’t enter these restaurants. In this article, we introduce three different oden restaurants in Kyoto’s popular Kawaramachi district.
Kiyomizu Gionshinbashi is an izakaya (Japanese style bar and grill) located near Gion Shijo station that serves oden, amongst other foods. It has a very nice atmosphere with a beautiful garden and tokonoma (Japanese-style alcove) rooms, giving it a truly urban Kyoto feeling.
The oden at Kiyomizu Gionshinbashi is delicious. It includes boiled eggs, daikon (Japanese white radish), atsuage (a block of deep-fried bean curd), and potatoes. Interestingly, the broth of the oden here is not made from bonito, but rather from chicken. So, it gives a unique aroma and taste, much different from the oden of other restaurants.
Kiyomizu Gionshinbashi also serves okara, which is a traditional food made from tofu and soy milk. It has a unique texture and flavor. Actually I ate this. It smells like between tofu and atuage. I enjoyed this one.
If you come to Kyoto to do sightseeing, and you are near Kawaramachi, we highly recommend you to visit this izakaya to eat some delicious food.
Usually, Kiyomizu Gionshinbashi is closed on Sundays, but if Monday is a public holiday, then it is closed as well. Opening hours are from 5:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Expect to spend between 4,000 to 5000 yen ($40 to $50). This shop has a menu in English, so it is easy for you to request the food. And surprisingly, I went to this shop, the shop owner thanks to me with writing paper. If you want to visit, it is sure to you to make reservation on the web site. (web site: http://www.kyoya-kiyomizu.com/ )
Our second oden restaurant to recommend is called Gokomachi Ono. It is located only about 5 minutes on foot from Kawaramachi station. There open from 5:00 p.m. to 12:00 p.m. For dinner, the average cost is 5,000 yen (5$). The atmosphere of the shop is very good, so you can relax inside. You can either sit at a table or a counter seat. You can eat many kinds of oden ingredients and other Japanese food in this restaurant, some of which cost only 200 yen ($2.00).
Our recommended oden ingredient is tomato.
It is juicy and sweet, and it goes well with the dashi of the oden. We also recommend daikon, which is the most popular oden ingredient at Gokomachi Ono. We like it very much. Please try it. It goes very well with yuzu pepper.
Another delicious food served at Gokomachi Ono is kamameshi, which is rice boiled with various ingredients such as seafood, meat and vegetables in the small iron cooking pots.
The kamameishi at Gokomachi Ono is made with seasonal ingredients, which makes it even better. For example, you can order taimeshi, which is rice with minced red sea bream. It is very tasty, so we recommend that you eat that dish.
Moreover, you can drink many kinds of nihonshu at Gokomachi Ono. Nihonshu is a Japanese distilled alcohol made with a kind of mold called koji. People drink it in small ceramic cups called ochoko. We want you to enjoy the delicious oden and nihonshu in Gokomachi Ono. It also serves tempura and fresh sashimi. However, it doesn’t have English menu, so you should research about ingredients of oden before visiting.
Daruma to Kingyo
Daruma to Kingyo is the name of an oden izakaya on Teramachi Street near Kawaramachi station. This is a very cozy-looking restaurant with many unusual items on the menu. However, their oden is so simple. And even though it is very simple, it is super delicious with an elegant taste.
This restaurant is very famous, not only for oden, but also for potato salad. You should try the potato salad here. It is so delicious that you will become addicted to it.
This is potato salad.
This is Oden.( Japanese radish, Potato )
This is unique menu in that restaurant ( chicken and mocheese. Mocheese is mochi and cheese. )
Daruma to Kingyo is open from Wednesday to Sunday between 6:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. For dinner, the average cost is around 3,000 yen ($30). If you want to eat there, it’s better to make a reservation in advance. It is usually closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
This picture is in front of the restaurant. It’s a little bit difficult to find it.
It’s in inside of restaurant.
In conclusion, we visited three oden restaurants in Kawaramachi. All served delicious food with nice atmospheres, so we think you should visit all three. However, if we had to recommend only one, we would recommend Gokomachi Ono. It offers many kinds of Japanese food at reasonable prices. Enjoy eating oden in Kyoto!